The combination of Flying Lizard Motorsports and Porsche has always produced a commanding performance at Lime Rock Park, and this weekend was no different. From 2004 to 2013, Flying Lizard never finished outside the podium, earning six wins in the ten races. With drivers Rodrigo "Digo" Baptista and Nate Stacy, the Lizards celebrated two more wins and an additional podium finish to add to the record, marking the first Pirelli World Challenge GTS win for the California-based team.
With just one day of on track testing, the Lizards celebrated the strongest qualifying performance of the year for both drivers when Baptista and Stacy qualified third and fifth, respectively.
Dark clouds hung overhead as the field set the grid for Round 7, and Pirelli World Challenge officials made the call to start the race under caution, with the safety car leading. As the field ran behind the pace car, the engineers at Flying Lizard consulted with the drivers, ultimately deciding to stay on slick tires, hoping the rain, now hitting the track, would shortly subside. The pace car pulled into pit lane and the field went green, with Baptista and Stacy holding position in the opening laps. The second place Mustang of Chris Hall pitted in the opening lap to take rain tires as the rest of the field stayed on the Pirelli slicks.
In lap ten, the leaders began to lap the field, and Baptista made his move to take the lead from Ian James. With the suberb handing of the Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR in the rain, Stacy confidently moved up from sixth position to fourth while Baptista created a two second lead over James.
With less than fifteen minutes remaining, lapped traffic held up the race leader, allowing the second place Panoz of James to close in on Baptista. As the track started to dry, Hall's mustang climbed through the field to race in third, but Stacy made the dive in turn one to take position with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock. Baptista crossed the finish line in first place, earning Flying Lizard Motorsports their first win of the season. Teammate Nate Stacy finished third, rounding out the Pirelli World Challenge GTS podium.
Race one's fastest lap set the grid for race two, placing Baptista to start in third, and Stacy to start sixth. Race two began with the traditional standing start, which showed Baptista's Porsche Cayman Clubsport MR launch from third to first in a matter of seconds. He charged down the front straight, creating a gap of several car lengths before getting to turn one.
Stacy also produced a strong start, jumping from sixth to fourth as the field rain through the opening turns.
Baptista put on a clinic for the GTS field, quickly creating a ten second gap over the competition. With 30 minutes remaining, Baptista informed the team he had a problem with the brakes. The team quickly resolved the issue, but Baptista lost the lead. With the problem fixed, Baptista set impressive lap times, eager to gain the lead back from the 50 Panoz.
With each lap, Baptista closed in, shrinking the gap from 2.7 to 1.9 seconds at the halfway point. Trouble hit for the race leader with 25 minutes to go when No. 50 Panoz pulled into pit lane with smoke billowing from the car. Baptista re-assumed the race lead with a 25 second gap to the next car.
With 14 minutes remaining, a full course caution came out, eliminating Baptista's lead. The pace car grouped the field back together and Baptista led the field back to green with teammate Nate Stacy in fifth. Stacy climbed to fourth on the restart, then battled for third position with Hall. The checkered flag waved, and Baptista took home the second win of the weekend for Flying Lizard Motorsports with Stacy securing a fifth place result.
The victorious weekend holds another special meaning for the team, as the first professional win under the ownership of Darren Law, Tommy Sadler, and Thomas Blam, who took the company over from founder Seth Neiman in December 2014.
The GTS team will enjoy a month long break from competition until the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship resumes June 23-25 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
*From team media release
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