Flying Lizards have Long Beach experience Going to a new venue is always challenging but Flying Lizard Motorsports may have the upper hand this weekend at Long Beach. Three of the team’s entered drivers - Jörg Bergmeister, Darren Law and Patrick Long - each have previously raced at the site of the American Le Mans Series’ third round of 2007. What it takes to be successful at Long Beach and expectations for the new Porsche GT2 challenger were just a few of the questions they answered leading up to Saturday’s race:
“Long Beach is a great track, lots of fun. There are some similarities to St. Pete in that there are some really tight sections. Most of the corners are medium speed, so there’s no high-speed stuff like there was in Florida.
“I think that everyone might run into issues with some of the prototypes, especially through the 1-2-3 corner complex. There’s one line at most through there, so everyone’s going to have to be cautious during the race. Whether there’s any trouble depends on whether everyone behaves. If any of the prototypes are overanxious and get stuck behind the GT2 cars entering Turn 1, it could be tough.
“The last corner, leading onto the front straightaway, has got to be the slowest corner that we drive at any racetrack, anywhere. It’s basically a U-turn! The Porsche should be good through the slow stuff, especially when we get back to power.
“It’s so cool to race in Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, and I certainly have fond memories of the Grand Prix. It’s one of the best-attended races we’re likely to have this year so I’m excited about it.”
“Long Beach is a fun track. It has some very tight sections so it will be interesting to see how traffic will be. It’s not as bad for us as we just have to stay on our line but the guys in the prototypes have to very patient.
“I think the Porsche should be good in Long Beach as in general the car has very good traction and mechanical grip.
“I think St. Pete had quite some fast corners for being a street track. Long Beach has some first gear corners and is more a stop-and-go track.”
“Long Beach to me is a special place because I grew up watching races there. I can remember it really precisely, and it was almost eerie to go out and drive it last year. It felt great, though! The track is super challenging, super technical - I really enjoy street courses because they demand precision. With no room for error whatsoever, it’s a great challenge as a driver.
“Long Beach itself is super low-grip, and it demands a certain driving style. It requires technical, crafty racing, an old-school setup focused on mechanical grip rather than knife’s-edge aerodynamics, and with the narrow nature of the track, it feels like you're driving by the seat of your pants.
“There are some unique additions to the circuit that are really scenic - especially around the fountain - but they’re really narrow.
“With the four different classes in the American Le Mans Series, it'll make for an awesome show. With so many different classes and speeds, the bottlenecks will be super action-packed.
“The 997 in particular with the bigger tires ought to have an advantage in the low-grip sections of the course. The aero and braking capacity has been improved also, so we’re going to have to focus on making the setup and handling of the car really manageable for the slow parts of the track. We want the car to be nimble through the switchback sections, especially that last corner coming onto Shoreline where it’s really tight. It’ll be really important to get the power down out of that corner so we can drag-race down the front straight.
“I’m confident that given that Jörg, Darren and I have all been to the track, we’ll be ahead of the curve, which ought to help the team’s effort.”
The Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 3 of the 2007 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 14. SPEED will provide same-day broadcast coverage from 8 to 10:30 p.m. ET. 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.