LAKEVILLE, Conn. – The Pirelli World Challenge at Lime Rock Park proved to be a weekend filled with attrition for Flying Lizard Motorsports. The Memorial Day double header had its moments of success with a pole position and a fastest lap of the race, but a series of unfortunate events prevented the team from repeating its podium success at the Lakeville, Connecticut road course.
Mike Hedlund put in a strong performance in qualifying for race one, setting a fast lap to put him in a starting position of seventh overall, fifth in the GTSA Am class for the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4. Adam Merzon qualified 16th in class, 23rd overall. Merzon gained three positions on the start, and began to pull away from his pack, chasing the next set of cars. As Hedlund began to fight for fifth position, debris on track caused a puncture, forcing him to pit the Audi for a new left front tire. The early pit stop set him back to rejoin at the rear of the field, and the course went under caution to clean up the debris. Hedlund rejoined in 28th, climbing his way back up to 20th position overall, sixth in class, by the end of the race. As the mandatory pit window opened, Merzon pitted in 18th and Ryan Eversley took over the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi. He quickly rejoined and made his way back up to 12th in class before a significant accident brought out a full course caution with 15 minutes remaining. The race finished under caution, and Eversley finished eighth in the pro/am class, and Hedlund sixth in the am class.
Following the checker flag, the competitors took a brief lunch break and the drivers participated in the autograph session before heading back to the false grid for race two. Ryan Eversley started from the Pro/Am pole position and third overall, with Mike Hedlund sixth in class, 18th overall. At the green flag, a battle between the two leaders allowed Eversley and the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi to take second place, now in position to fight for the overall lead. By lap two, a crash in the back of the track brought out a full course caution. The lengthy delay lasted the entire first stint, leading to race control to move the mandatory pit window back seven minutes to allow the field to pit under green flag conditions.
Just after the restart, Hedlund reported to pit lane that the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS had damage on the right rear tire. Still able to race, he stayed on track, hoping to climb further up the field before the mandatory stops. As the pit window slowly approached, Eversley brought the No. 23 Audi to the overall lead, extending his gap over the field of sports cars from 1.6 seconds to 2.5. He finished his stint and Adam Merzon took over for the final stint, rejoining in the top five. In the final twenty minutes, both flying Lizard machines reported contact with other cars. While Hedlund was able to continue and finished ninth in class, Merzon’s car finished the race in pit lane with ten minutes remaining. In addition to starting from pole position, the No. 23 Audi R8 LMS set the fastest lap of the race.
The championship will take a one month break and resume June 22-24 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Pirelli World Challenge will combine the GT and GTS classes, sharing the four mile course, the longest track on the 2018 calendar. For more information, visit world-challenge.com.
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4
The crew and entire team deserved better results than I was able to achieve this weekend, but as they say, that’s racing! We started the weekend strong after our crew found a small mechanical issue with the car that affected us last weekend in Canada, and our car was great straight off the truck. A solid qualifying effort parked us near the front, but some bad luck with a tire puncture early in race one put us on the back foot. Fighting through the mid-pack of race two resulted in some heavy contact on the front of our #45 Flying Lizard Opti-Coat Audi R8. However, the tank like Audi still drove well after a quick pit stop for the crew to tear off the damaged parts. A little, or a lot of bad luck this year won’t stop us. We’ll be back strong at Road America on June 23-24!
Adam Merzon | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS
This weekend was a lot of fun despite the result. I’ve gotten comfortable with the setup of our Audi and really appreciate the effort the Lizards have put in. Ryan showed in both races we had the fastest Audi and even fastest car overall. Before I got taken out in the second race I was hopeful of a podium, but I guess we’ll have to get one at Road America instead. Thanks to Flying Lizard for preparing such a fast car, I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
Ryan Eversley | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS
I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made as a team and with this car. I knew on the first lap of the weekend we were going to be strong and getting the fastest lap of the weekend and leading overall for a while was really satisfying. The guys on the team were all really pumped up after my stint, and that felt great to see them happy.
Adam was nursing a dislocated rib this weekend and put in a very brave drive despite being in pain. I’m really proud of him and his pace in the Case-It car.
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 lizardms.com. Flying Lizard Motorsports has proven to be a championship contender no matter the race series or race car.