Stuttgart. A strong season finale for Porsche in the American Le Mans Series: At the thrilling 1,000 mile Petit Le Mans race in Road Atlanta, Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Patrick Long (USA) and Patrick Pilet (France) snatched second place in a heart-stopping final. At the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports, the trio were a mere six seconds shy of a GT class victory after more than nine and a half hours packed with tough fights for positions and many changes at the lead. Their second position secured the vice-championship for Porsche in the race series featuring the world's fastest sports cars.
On the time-honoured circuit in the US state of Georgia, Joerg Bergmeister again showed nerves of steel, waiting until the penultimate lap before making his decisive move on the BMW in front of him. "In my last stint I speculated that I would be able to snatch the BMW," said the five-time Road Atlanta winner. "I used the traffic after the safety car phase, took a risk and overtook him on the outside through Turn six. I'm pleased that I secured the decisive points to win the tyre manufacturers' classification for Michelin."
His teammates Patrick Long and Patrick Pilet had laid the foundation for this success with their faultless performances. "It was a fantastic experience to contest the Petit Le Mans for Flying Lizard Motorsports," said Patrick Pilet. "Over the course of the race the balance of our car became better and better and towards the end it was virtually perfect. I'm totally happy." Patrick Long added: "We stuck to our plan and kept out of any trouble so that we could attack in the last ten laps. This plan worked."
Another decisive factor in this good result aside from the strong performance of the drivers was the perfect work of the pit crew. "The entire Flying Lizard squad did a tremendous job. Every single pit stop was incredible," commented Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. "Through their excellent effort, the team compensated very well for the handicap from the Balance of Performance measures that were again in place here. In a sensational push at the end, Joerg Bergmeister secured second place and this gave our partner Michelin the tyre manufacturers' title. Well done to all those who contributed to this success."
Rounding off the excellent team result for Porsche at the 1,000 mile classic was Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and his teammates Bryan Sellers (USA) and Martin Ragginger (Austria). Driving the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Falken Tire, they brought home fifth place. "I'm very pleased with this," said Wolf Henzler, winner of the races in Mid-Ohio and Baltimore together with Bryan Sellers. "We drove a controlled race and didn't take any unnecessary risks. I can look back on a good season with two victories to our credit. That was more than we had expected." His factory pilot colleague Marco Holzer (Germany) and his American teammates Seth Neiman und Darren Law saw the flag in eighth place in the second Flying-Lizard Porsche.
Victory in the GTC class went to Porsche Supercup pilots Jeroen and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (Netherlands) together with American Tim Pappas, who won the title. Petit Le Mans, which counts as a round of the GTE Am class of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, brought no luck for Porsche works driver Richard Lietz (Austria): With the Proton Competition-run Porsche 911 GT3 RSR he lay in the lead, but had to retire after 163 laps with a damaged drive system. Statistics: 9th and final race in Road Atlanta, Georgia
Result GT class
1. Fisichella/Bruni/Kaffer (I/I/D), Ferrari F458 Italia, 367 laps
2. Bergmeister/Long/Pilet (D/USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 367
3. Werner/Auberlen/Farfus (D/USA/BRA), BMW M3 GT, 367
4. Magnussen/Gavin/Westbrook (DK/GB/GB), Chevrolet Corvette, 366
5. Henzler/Sellers/Ragginger (D/USA/A), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 365
6. Sharp/van Overbeek/Farnbacher (USA/USA/D), Ferrari F458 Italia, 365
8. Holzer/Neiman/Law (D/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 361
11. Maassen/Miller/Collard (D/USA/F), Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, 357
Result GTC class
1. J./S. Bleekemolen/Pappas (NL/NL/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 346 laps
2. Sweedler/Keen/Wong (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 346
3. Pumpelly/Ende/Ludwig (USA/USA/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, 345
Final standings GT class
1. Dirk Muller, Joey Hand, BMW, 161 points
2. Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen, Chevrolet, 135
3. Dirk Werner, Bill Auberlen, BMW, 129
4. Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Long, Porsche, 102
5. Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers, Porsche, 97
6. Jaime Melo, Toni Vilander, Ferrari, 83
1. BMW, 180 points
2. Porsche, 162
3. Chevrolet, 139
4. Ferrari, 127
1. BMW Team RLL, BMW, 180 points
2. Corvette Racing, Chevrolet, 139
3. Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche, 115
4. Team Falken Tire, Porsche, 97