SONOMA, Calif. – The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge came to a close this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, the home track of Flying Lizard Motorsports. The team closed out its maiden GTS season second in the team championship points, with Rodrigo Baptista and Nate Stacy earning a total of ten podiums and four wins with their Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs.
“I am very proud of both Nate Stacy and Rodrigo Baptista this season,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “We had our ups and downs, as any season brings, but to come into our first season of PWC racing with this GT4 car and come away with four wins and ten podiums not only says a lot about their driving ability, but also about our Flying Lizard team. It is such a great group of people that work well together.”
Baptista dominated most of the final qualifying session, setting provisional pole position early only to have it taken in the final moments. He set a lap to start race one in third, with teammate Stacy starting in eighth. The outright speed of Ian James in the Panoz Avezzano GT, Martin Barkey in the KTM Xbow GT4, and Parker Chase in the Ginetta G55 showed early in the race, bumping Baptista’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR to fifth by lap three. Stacy gained a spot on the start to battle for position in seventh. The field began to spread out, leaving only a few cars to battle for position as the race stayed green. Derek Deboer’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 raced side by side with Baptistsa on lap eight, taking the position and moving the Brazilian to sixth with Stacy in seventh. The No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro GT4 of Lawson Aschenbach dropped to fifth, and Baptista stayed close to his rear, looking to make the pass for position. The minutes remaining in the race wound down, and the pair raced side by side, with Baptista continuously looking for room to make a run. With five minutes left, Rodrigo made the pass on the inside of turn seven, and kept position to the checker flag, earning fifth position overall, fourth in class. Stacy created a comfortable gap over the field behind him, finishing in seventh overall, sixth in class.
Baptista and Stacy qualified for race two in fifth and seventh, respectively. The first two positions launched off the line for the standing start and immediately pulled a gap, but Baptista and Stacy launched to compete for fourth and fifth in the opening turns. Parker Chase quickly worked his way up to pass Baptista, with the Flying Lizard duo running in fifth and sixth. Baptista continued to push, staying close to Chase, working to set up the pass. An optimistic move for third from Chase on Barkey took both drivers off track, allowing Baptista and Stacy to advance to third and fourth. An early checker flag due to an on track incident, bringing Flying Lizard Motorsports its tenth podium of the season.
“It was a great race,” said Baptista. “I don’t think we had the fastest car here, I did what I could and finished third. It was great to get a final podium. I have to thank the team for all their work this year. Not knowing the tracks, I was not expecting to be able to fight for the championship, but we did. It was a really good season with a great team.”
“It was a good effort by the team this weekend,” said Stacy. “I had a little faster pace in the second race, but I wasn’t close enough to take advantage of it. I got a solid fourth place.”
Following the checker flag, the team will participate in Sunday night’s end of season Pirelli World Challenge banquet, where the 2018 season is expected to be announced. Flying Lizard Motorsports will make announcements regarding the 2018 season at a later date.
“I also want to thank Porsche Motorsport for all of their support,” concluded Law. “Thank you to eSilicon for their support as well. They have been partners with Flying Lizard Motorsports for many years, and it is nice to bring results for them. We are already working on next season and we hope to make decisions soon and to announce our plans before too long.
About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Since its inception in 2004, Flying Lizard Motorsports has become an iconic team in the world of sports car racing. The California based team has celebrated seven driver and team championships, as well as competed internationally at the 24 Hours of Le Mans eight times. The Lizards burst on the American Le Mans Series scene in 2004, competing in the GT class until 2012. In 2013, the team moved to the GTC class, still competing in legendary events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona. In 2014, the team expanded its program to include running two Audi R8 LMS in the TUDOR Championship, and in 2015, again expanded the program to include two Porsches in Porsche Club racing. Flying Lizard closed out the season with a dominating win at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Toyo Tires, a win they repeated with a 1-2 finish in 2016. For more information, visit lizardms.com. For additional photos and all behind-the-scenes updates, check us out on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.