Canadian Tire Motorsport Preview: Flying Lizard Motorsports Resumes Sprint Championship

SONOMA, Cal., – Flying Lizard Motorsports kicks off two weeks of racing action starting in Bowmanville, Ontario for the Victoria Day Speedfest at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP), May 17-19. Rounds three and four of the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint Championship at CTMP will be immediately followed by SprintX Rounds five and six at Lime Rock Park Memorial Day weekend.

The Format
After SprintX double headers at Circuit of the Americas and Virginia International Raceway, it’s finally time to return to the traditional sprint race format. Rounds three and four of the Sprint Championship will have a single driver complete each race’s 50 minute run. No pit stops will be required, allowing for competitors to spend the full race battling for position on track.

The Drivers
Bringing with him the momentum of a third place finish at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), Mike Hedlund will be a strong contender this week in Canada. He currently sits second in the GTSA Sprint championship point standings, having finished second and fourth in rounds one and two at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.

Adam Merzon had a strong finish within his grasp at the previous race round at VIR, but contact from another car shuffled the No. 23 Audi R8 LMS GT4 back several positions in the final lap. Merzon sits 10th in the Sprint championship, but sitting just eight points away from sixth position, can easily climb up the charts with two strong finish. SprintX co-driver Ryan Eversley will not be sharing the driving duties this weekend, but will instead offer coaching to Merzon throughout the weekend.

The Track
Located 90 kilometers (56 miles) Northeast of Toronto, Ontario, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is 3.957 kilometers (2.459 miles) of permanent road course, with high speed turns rolling through the wooded hills of Bowmanville, Ontario. The roller coaster-like elevation changes make this 10-turn track a challenging favorite for amateur and professional competitors.

Flying Lizard Motorsports has competed at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park eight times and celebrated a in 2010 with Jörg Bergmeister and Pat Long. Three additional podiums came in 2004 (Lonnie Pechnik/Seth Neiman), 2006 (Johannes van Overbeek/Mark Leib), and 2013 (Nelson Canache/Spencer Pumpelly).

The Engineering
Team engineer Jim Bell calls Canadian Tire Motorsport Park the bravest track on the Pirelli World Challenge 2018 calendar.

He explains:

“CTMP is one of the greatest tracks you’re ever going to go to. There comes a time when you have to divide what the work is according to the track. It has high speed, off camber, very technical corners and because you’re going so fast, and it’s easy to get it wrong. It is a high speed course, and the car has to be very good, and very stable. The stability of the platform is so crucial here, so that it does exactly what the driver wants it to do so that he doesn’t get caught out or have any surprises.

“At CTMP, we tune the car to exactly what kind of speed and most importantly, stability that the driver needs. They need a car that can pass on the outside. The combination of the way car sets on the track, the amount of tire that you keep on the track, is governed by the platform and the amount of camber that’s in it.

“The concentration is to keep them in the high speed places, they need to be able to pass, and to drive. We try to make it handle for than one racing line so that they can pass and not get stuck in a conga line of cars. There will be parts where the track will take a driver’s breath away, and that’s where the engineering will provide help. Whatever the driver comes up with after you give them that high speed platform is where you go.”

Race one, Round 3 of the Sprint Championship, will begin Saturday, May 19 at 4:10PM Eastern, followed by race two, Round 4, Sunday, May 19 at 10:06AM ET. Live timing for the event will be available on the TSL event page, and Flying Lizard Motorsports will offer live updates throughout the event on twitter. Pirelli World Challenge will offer live streaming, available on the series stream page, and as well as on the series YouTube channel. Following the event, Rounds 3 & 4 of the GTS Sprint championship will air on CBS Sports Network at a later date to be determined.

Driver Quotes
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4
After our rain shorted GT event last year, I’m anxious to get back to Canada in the #45 Flying Lizard Opti-Coat Audi R8 GT4! It’s an amazing track with some of the fastest corners in the world. Our Audi should be strong here and I’m looking forward to making up some points and hopefully making a donation or two to local charities! Weather is always a little dicey at this time of year so it should be an exciting event for all the fans who come out and see us and for those who tune into the live stream.

Adam Merzon | No. 23 Audi R8 LMS GT4
We have quite a few less cars entered in the Sprint races, so hopefully that will result in more green flag running this weekend. I think the Case-It Audi will be more suited to this track than the car I raced here last season, and with Flying Lizard helping me get up to speed, I think we’ll have fun when we get north of the border!

About Flying Lizard Motorsports
Based out of Sonoma, California, Flying Lizard Motorsports is one of the most iconic sports car teams in motorsports, having celebrated six driver and team championships, as well as competed internationally at the 24 Hours of Le Mans eight times. The team currently races in Pirelli World Challenge, Porsche Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA, and Porsche Club of America.

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 in 2016 and 2017. For more information, visit Flying Lizard Motorsports has proven to be a championship contender no matter the race series or race car.