Flying Lizard Battles Heated Weekend in Virginia
ALTON, Vir., (June 18, 2023) – Both the temperatures and the attrition were high this weekend for Flying Lizard Motorsports at VIRginia International Raceway for the next two rounds of the Pirelli GT4 America and GT America Powered by AWS championships. Racing the No. 460 Porsche 911 GT3 R, No. 2 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and No. 8 Aston Martin Vantage GT4, the team encountered various obstacles while fighting to maintain their championship points lead. The team rebounded to close out the weekend with a third place finish and three additional top-five results.
“VIR is an amazing track but also demands respect,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “It is very fast and has high consequences if you get off track. We saw that this weekend. The field is so tight as far as speed and lap times and now that we are at about the halfway point in the season the points battle is coming to a critical point. We can’t afford to make a mistake on track, but having said that the points are so close we also can’t afford to take it easy. It is still anyone’s championship right now, several cars had issues this weekend but I was happy we came away with a good amount of points and are still in the fight.”
The first of two GT America races offered little racing, with various contacts interrupting the 40-minute sprint race. Elias Sabo and his No. 8 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 were among the early casualties, when contact from another car sent the Lizard car into the wall and back to the garage. The extensive damage to the black and orange Aston Martin resulted in Sabo’s early retirement from the race as well as the remainder of the GT America weekend. Though having only a two-lap window of green flag racing, Jason Bell gained two spots during the race to earn his seventh podium of the GT America season. Andy Wilzoch also enjoyed a strong run during the brief race, finishing seventh after starting in tenth place.
After an issue on the pace lap caused Jason Bell to move to the rear of the field for the second GT America race start, Bell had quite the task ahead of him on Sunday morning. He started the race in 11th, but gained three positions within the first three turns of the opening lap. He engaged in a tight and entertaining battle with Tim Savage for fifth place, and eventually took the position to fight for third place with Tony Gaples. The ensuing battle resulted in the Flying Lizard car spinning, but Bell recovered to finish in fourth place.
The GT America series will next compete at Nashville, Tennessee’s Music City Grand Prix, racing on the temporary circuit built of the city’s downtown street circuits, August 4-6.
Elias Sabo started the opening GT4 America race from sixth place, gaining a position in the opening lap. The heat of the day made the track slippery, but Sabo maintained position and gave the No. 8 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 over to Lee at the halfway point. A quick and clean stop in pit lane, aided by speedy driving by Lee brought the team up from fifth to fourth place, giving the team a satisfactory points haul headed into day two.
Determined to build on the previous day’s progress, Lee started race two from sixth place, gaining two stops in the opening laps. His green-flag race time was robbed with a full course caution, but he was still able to fight for third in class before his stint reached its end. Despite having contact from other cars while engaged in side-by-side battles for position and being sent off track more than once, Lee was able to continue and give the No. 8 Aston Martin to Elias Sabo for the remainder of the race at the halfway point. Sabo joined the race in seventh place, and he climbed up to fifth place at the drop of the checkered flag, earning a seventh top-five finish.
The GT4 America series will take a one-month break, next competing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 18-20.