Flying Lizard No. 79 fourth in GTE Am at Le Mans

No. 80 Retired in Hour 10 After Accident

Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France – The 24 Heures du Mans proved again to be a long, difficult race for both Lizard Porsches. The No. 79 finished fourth in GTE Am but the No. 80 (competing in GTE Pro) was retired in hour 10 after battling multiple suspension issues and then, finally, an accident at the first chicane.

#79 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 RSR: Seth Neiman, Patrick Pilet, Spencer Pumpelly
#79 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 RSR: Seth Neiman, Patrick Pilet, Spencer Pumpelly

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

In the No. 79, Porsche factory driver and French national Patrick Pilet started on the GTE Am pole. It was a clean start for the whole field, and although the No. 79 moved to second position at the start, Pilet soon regained the lead, which he held for his double stint. Near the two-hour mark, Spencer Pumpelly took over, maintaining the lead for his double stint.

At hour four, Pumpelly handed the wheel over to Seth Neiman. Neiman had an uneventful stint until the end, when, on his inlap, the car spun at the exit of Indianapolis, travelling across the track into the guardrail. After a lengthy garage repair to replace the front radiators, front and rear bodywork, exhaust, oil lines and undertray, the No. 79 returned to the track, now in eleventh place and 15 laps down on the GTE Am leader.

It was an uneventful (but very chilly) night for the No. 79 as Patrick Pilet and Spencer Pumpelly moved through their stints. At the race halfway point, the crew had to replace a cross-threaded wheel nut on the left rear which required a longer than normal pit stop. By morning, the No. 79 was back to sixth position with eight hours left to go in the race.

Over the final eight hours, all three drivers cycled through their lineup, encountering relatively few problems and setting a fast pace. In hour 18, Patrick Pilet set the fastest GTE Am time of the race and beat his own pole with a lap of 3:56.596. By race end, the No. 79 had climbed back to fourth position.

The No. 80 was dogged with bad luck from the start. In the No. 80, Joerg Bergmeister started seventh on the GTE Pro grid. By the one-hour mark, after working through early-race tire pressure issues, he had moved to up to sixth in class. He was settling into his race pace when he had an off-course excursion into the gravel trap at Indianapolis. He was quickly pulled out and back underway, but pitted immediately for the crew to look over the car and a driver change to Patrick Long.

Twenty minutes later, a damper came apart which sent Long limping slowly around the track back to the pits. (The damper was most likely the reason for Bergmeister's earlier off.) The crew quickly replaced the damper but the garage stop cost the car several laps to the GTE Pro leader. Long headed out again, now in ninth position. Near the three-hour mark, halfway through his double stint, a tire puncture sent him back into the pits for a replacement left rear tire. At hour four, he turned the wheel over to Marco Holzer. Thirty minutes into his stint, Holzer returned to the pits for the crew to replace another damper, then just past the five-hour mark, Holzer pitted again to change a third. The No. 80 returned to the race in P9, 10 laps down on the GTE Pro leader. Bergmeister then took the wheel for his stint, and turned the No. 80 over to Patrick Long around midnight, still in P9.

Just after midnight, Long hit heavy gravel on track in the first chicane. The debris was from another car, which had just spun into the gravel trap, then drove across the track and covered it with gravel. Long hit the gravel, spun and impacted the tire wall. He was fine, but the car sustained heavy damage and he was unable to drive it safely back to the garage and the car was retired.

Driver Perspectives

Spencer Pumpelly, No. 79: "I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of this. Everyone on the Lizard team put in a phenomenal effort, not only in this 24-hour race, but for the entire program leading up to the race week. The car ran flawlessly and it was a joy to drive. A huge thanks to everyone on the team."

Joerg Bergmeister, No. 80: "It was a very disappointing weekend for the No. 80 drivers, and even more so for the crew who had put so much time and effort work into preparing the car. And with all of the suspension issues that we had during the race, the crew kept repairing it and putting a solid car back on track. After the last damper was replaced, the car actually felt pretty good and we were running a reasonable pace. Patrick was unlucky: he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that was the end of our 2012 Le Mans."

Marco Holzer, No. 80: "That was a rough one. We had so many issues, but the crew was so quick to repair everything and get us back out. Then we had to retire. It was definitely frustrating, but it was good to have the opportunity to be here with the Lizards."

Patrick Long, No. 80: "Congratulations to the 79 team: I know from experience that going from the top to the bottom of the running order can really get into your head. But the crew as always never missed a beat and the drivers fought through the night knowing that a win was unlikely, but they pushed to the end. I only wish we could have had the opportunity to do the same in the No. 80. Coming up on the exit of a corner on a pitch black racetrack and hitting gravel, debris and fluid full throttle meant that I was just a passenger. But that's Le Mans – what might otherwise have been just two wheels off, on this track at those speeds and it can be game over. Now our focus has to shift immediately to Lime Rock and the rest of our ALMS season."

shares
comments
Aston Martin Vantage GTE scores podium on Le Mans debut
Previous article

Aston Martin Vantage GTE scores podium on Le Mans debut

Next article

Primat successfully finishes the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Primat successfully finishes the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Load comments
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans Prime

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload Prime

How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload

The 23-car GTE Am field promises to be one of the most open in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the added jeopardy of managing the enthusiasm of amateur drivers to boot, as Absolute Racing Porsche driver Marco Seefried explains

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021