The Finish: From Jorg Bergmeister's Seat
The GT2 finish at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring still has people buzzing and likely will until next year’s race. Jaime Melo and the Risi Competizione Ferrari F430 GT held off Jörg Bergmeister in one of Flying Lizard Motorsports new Porsches in a thrilling final lap duel by 0.020 seconds, the closest finish in America’s greatest sports car race. The finish wasn’t without controversy as the two cars collided as they entered the frontstretch for the final time.
Here is how Bergmeister viewed the finish and what surprises next week’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg holds:
Question: Have you ever been involved in a race that long with the finish being that close? Road America two years ago was tight but that wasn’t 12 hours...
Answer: I have had a few races that were pretty close. I finished second in Le Mans with a difference of 1.5 minutes. But for sure Sebring was the first long-distance race that was that close for me.
Q: Have you viewed a video of Sebring’s last lap? Is there anything there that changes your perception about what happened at the end?
A: I have watched the video. When you see the video, the footage is not as clear as what actually happened. He rode into Turn 17 with a lot of speed. He first bumped me on the right rear near the apex of the corner. I got an oversteer and had to lift off the throttle and then we were side by side. He was on the inside, I was on the outside. He bumped me again and pushed me toward the wall. I had to really back off the throttle - if I hadn't I would have gone into the wall. I thought that making a move like that at the end was very dangerous.
Q: It may have surprised some that the Porsche held up as well as it did in its first major endurance race (at least since Spa last year). Obviously there has been a great deal of development since then. Where was most of the focus between the Winter Test and the race last week with the Flying Lizard Porsches?
A: Definitely Porsche did a great job on developing the car. As a team, we were focused on preparing the car for the 12 hours - making sure that we did not have any technical issues and getting to a good race setup. I think our preparation was a large of part of why we were so competitive.
Q: Given the nature of street circuits, does the Porsche gain or lose performance in handling, braking or acceleration? Porsche has yet to lose in GT2 on a street course so there must be something there that works.
A: Obviously the 996 performed well on a street circuit. For the 997 we have to wait and see. For example, the extra weight might affect us there. But we hope to be competitive as the traction of the Porsches is always really good and that’s important on a street circuit.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. The race will start at 5:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 31. SPEED will provide a same-day broadcast event from 8 to 11 p.m. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia will carry the race live. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.