ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – This weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Flying Lizard Motorsports celebrated a successful debut to their Pirelli World Challenge program in the GTS class with drivers Rodrigo Baptista and Nate Stacy. The two Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs earned four top ten finishes, effectively surviving a street course known for intense racing.
The Florida weather cooperated all weekend, providing warm temperatures and clear skies throughout the season opening event. After the field completed the practice and qualifying sessions, track officials, worried about the safety of the drivers and cars, made changes to the track surface in turn three. When the GTS field pulled on track for Race 1, the Pirelli World Challenge stewards allowed the field to run under caution for the first four laps, in an effort for the field to familiarize themselves with the track changes. 25 cars took the green flag. Rodrigo Baptista started in eighth, and in the opening lap, sprinted to fifth. Nate Stacy stayed close, climbing a position from 10th to ninth before getting bumped back to eleventh. As the laps continued, the duo stayed focused, and Stacy continued to pick off several positions with each lap. Baptista came close to a podium with an impressive fourth place finish, and Stacy showed a strong run to finish sixth.
The pair’s fastest laps in race one awarded Baptista with an eighth place start for Race 2, and Stacy with an eleventh place starting position. In traditional GTS form, Race 2 began with a standing start, one which showed the launch potential of the Porsche Cayman GT4 MR. Both drivers launched off the line to gain position heading into turn one. Another car pushed Stacy wide heading into turn two, dropping him down the charts to 16th position. Undeterred, Stacy rejoined, clocking in fast laps as he fought to regain ground. With each lap, he passed another car, ultimately working his way back up to ninth as the race concluded. Baptista fought hard to run as high as fourth with the lead pack, but in the final laps, strong battles pushed him to sixth.
“We are so proud at how both drivers and all the crew did at this first event,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “Being a first event with new cars, and a new program, there is a lot of work that goes in to putting everything together. Starting the season on a street course is risky as the potential for damage is high. To come out of here with two cars in one piece and scoring good points is a win for us. It is a new chapter for Flying Lizard Motorsport, and everyone did an incredible job. We’re looking forward to a competitive season.”
My first weekend with Flying Lizard Motorsports went well. The team worked really hard, and the engineers were excellent to work with. The mechanics worked so hard to get everything exactly how it needed to be. Rodrigo is an excellent teammate to have on board. Jim Bell, our engineer, fined tuned our cars to perform strong. We could have done better, but there will always be room for improvement. We survived and got strong points from the weekend. Virginia International Raceway will be a good spot for us.
My first race in the U.S. was a little different, but I really liked it. The team was good, and the car was perfect. I did my best in qualifying, and set a time for eighth position. We could have been better, but we need a little power. The first race was good, and I finished fourth. For my first race in the U.S, I’m proud of that finish. The second race was more difficult. I started eighth, and finished sixth, which was still good. I brushed the wall at one point, but the car was okay, and we still finished.
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, and two McLaren 650S GT3s with K-PAX Racing in the World Challenge series. Flying Lizard closed out the season with a dominating win at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill with Toyo Tires. In 2016, Flying Lizard supported K-PAX Racing to clinch the World Challenge Driver, Team, and Manufacturer Championships. No matter the race series or race car, Flying Lizard Motorsports has proven to be a championship contender in sports car racing. For more information, visit lizardms.com. For additional photos and all behind-the-scenes updates, check us out on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.