May 2012

Two races in and we’re not yet where we want to be after Sebring and Long Beach. The upside is that we’ve made huge improvements on the current GT3 RSR, but the tough part is that we’ve had just rotten fortune in both races. To spare you the details Jörg was taken out before the start of the race at Sebring in a completely freak incident where he was rear ended by one of the GTE-Am Ferraris who seemed to have a lapse of concentration as the pack checked up going into the last corner. It’s pretty common for the accordion effect, as the front of the field jostles for position, sort of sends a wave of chain reaction back through the pack. That’s one of the tough parts about being in GT because you are last to be hit with the ripple effect. Unfortunately, it just caught the driver out who was starting just directly behind us and it pretty much ended our chances on the spot. In typical Flying Lizard fashion the team just hustled and rallied to get the car back on the track some one hour after the incident and we soldiered on for a long 12 hours and we were able to put points on the board by achieving 70 percent of the race.

Long Beach was another strange one; after practice in torrential rain, qualifying was cancelled so we started according to points which wasn’t great for us after Sebring. I believe we started tenth in class. I took the start of the race and I was able to make my way up to fourth by the end of the third lap and then the tire pressure alarm went off inside the car and I knew I had a tire going down. We dived into the pits and made a quick change but without a yellow it wasn’t enough to stay on the lead lap. From there we were able to battle back onto the end of the lead lap through some great strategy and Jörg did a great job to get the car back up to P7. So it’s been a slow start on the points side to say the least. We’re not quite where we want to be pace-wise against our three main rivals—Ferrari, Corvette and BMW—but the humble pie continues to be consumed and it’s only making us just that much hungrier to get back up where we know we should be.

We’re heading into Laguna this week, which is a really great event. We’ve been able to win the last three years there and we’d love to keep the streak alive. We know we have our backs a little bit against the wall but, as I’ve referenced for the last year plus on this blog, it’s not about to get us down. It’s just pushing us to strive for the top. The six-hour race plays to our strengths of consistency and strategy. It also tests the cars and we know that Porsche has the reliability. Last weekend at Spa our counterparts were able to achieve a victory against the ever-quick Ferraris in Spa during the WEC race. The six-hour format works well because of attrition and reliability. We’re still not there on qualifying pace; although we’ve made huge improvements, our competition have stepped up their games as much as we have or maybe even a bit more.

On the positive side, it was nice to spray some champagne last weekend in Salt Lake. I was filling in for my ride from last year, the Entrust Privacy Star Porsche, and it was nice to be back in the World Challenge. I’m not competing there this season just to allow time to focus on the ALMS exclusively. Victory came in a pretty extreme battle with Johnny O’Connell in the factory Cadillac so it was lot of fun and great to be back with Truspeed who is sort of a second family team to me.

Now it’s off to Laguna. We’re walking around with heavy hearts because Jörg’s brother Tim had a pretty tough accident last weekend at Fuji. Tim is on the mend but we want everybody to keep the Bergmeister family in their thoughts. Jörg is still there in Japan with Tim as we speak. Tim has had some surgeries and is still in a medically induced coma. Things are looking good, no spinal or head injuries to report, so that’s the good part. We’re really hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. It’s been a tough couple of months with Timo Bernhard having had big accident while testing at Sebring in the Audi prototype. It’s a brutal reminder that what we do is dangerous and as much as safety has really improved, we know that there are still areas in which to be better. It’s a good reminder for us drivers to continue to work with the circuits and the series and the engineers to improve safety as we go on. We’ll be racing for Tim this weekend.

Send your comments and questions to Patrick at askpatrick@pca.org. Although he can’t respond individually, he’ll get to as many as possible in his blog.