Rounds one and two of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship dealt Flying Lizard Motorsports a challenging hand, but the Audi R8 LMS GT4 team persisted to close out the weekend with two strong finishes at Circuit of the Americas.
Mike Hedlund started the Texas weekend in a strong position during the opening practice sessions, running in the top five overall. Traffic hampered his qualifying run, setting him to start in the middle of the pack for race one. At the wave of the green flag, the field spread out on the front straight, and a BMW turned in to the Flying Lizard Audi, pushing the R8 LMS GT4 into the concrete barrier. The car limped to turn one and was brought back to the garage, where the team worked for over twelve hours to repair the heavy damage done to the machine, finishing at 3:00AM on Sunday morning. Adam Merzon started from 30th position and made it through the chaotic opening laps and caution periods, gaining seven spots in the first green lap. He methodically worked his way up to 18th overall, and pitted within the 10 minute mandatory pit window. Required to spend 77 seconds in pit lane, the #23 Audi R8 LMS GT4 had a slightly longer driver change, when one of the belts did not immediately secure. Ryan Eversley took over for the second stint, and joined the battle towards the rear of the field, but made quick work to climb back to 17th position. He maintained the position until the checkered flag, finishing 17th overall, and 13th in class.
The No. 23’s quick lap of the race produced a race two starting position of 14th overall for Ryan Eversley, with Hedlund and the No. 45 starting at the rear of the field in 36th. Hedlund immediately worked an impressive charge, gaining four spots in the opening lap. The No. 23 of Ryan Eversley showed early strength, working his way up to eighth to fight side by side with Nate Stacy for position. Eversley kept the position and charged forward. He pitted from eighth during the mandatory pit window, and Adam Merzon took over for the second stint of the race. Continuing his own impressive drive, Hedlund made his way up to 15th by the time his required pit stop circled around, gaining 21 spots in the first half of the race. Adam Merzon rejoined in 11th position, and Mike Hedlund returned to the fight in 20th with less than 30 minutes remaining.
A full course caution came out with 20 minutes to go, eliminating any open track space between competitors. Ready to fight for positions, Merzon and Hedlund charged forward, to race side by side in 11th and 12th. Hedlund took 11th position over Merzon in the final laps, and a full course caution with less than five minutes left on the race clock brought out an early checker flag. The duo of Hedlund and Merzon finished 11th and 12th respectively, with a combined total of 27 positions gained. Hedlund finished fourth in class, narrowly missing the opportunity to fight for another podium position before the early checker flag.
Rounds three and four of the four of the Pirelli World Challenge GTS SprintX Championship resume April 27-29 at VIRginia International Raceway. Flying Lizard Motorsports has already once tested on the Danville, Virginia road course with the Audi R8 LMS GT4s, and will return again to test at the beginning of April.
Darren Law | Program Manager
I’m really proud of this entire team. We had a tough weekend to begin with the incident with Mike’s car in the first race, but the guys put in a lot of hard hours and hard work. They were here at the track repairing the No. 45 until 3:00AM. To bring both cars home in 11th and 12th at the end of the weekend is great for points. We’re really happy and I have to say congratulations to all three of our drivers. With 37 cars in the field, Mike Hedlund drove from last to 11th, and Ryan Eversley and Adam Merzondrove to finish one position back in 12th shows their ability to handle the traffic in difficult conditions. I’m looking forward to the next race.
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4
Our weekend started off strong with our Audi R8 GT4. I made a little mistake in qualifying and had some traffic which set us back in race one’s starting position. We started race one in mid-pack, and got hit by a BMW on the start, which put us into the wall. There wasn’t much we could do, but the guys spent all night working on the car. This morning it was as good as new, and we started race two from last position. We had some fun, passed some cars and were able to finish 11th overall. It was a good weekend. We got some points in SprintX round two, and I’m looking forward to the next round.
Adam Merzon | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4
I don’t think our race results really showcase the progress we made with the #23 Case-It Audi. I was able to turn my fastest laps to date at COTA and was really coming to grips with what the R8 responds to as a driver. Unfortunately both of my stints were marred by yellows so I didn’t really get to utilize the technique Ryan and I worked on in practice.
Ryan Eversley | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4
This GTS class is pretty awesome, but when you have this many cars entered, it can cause a bit of chaos. I think our races could’ve seen better results for the Case-It machine but we’ll have to settle for our 12th place finish. I’m really proud of Adam; he was really fast and consistent in practice and I can see his comfort level growing with the R8. We did a pre-season test at VIR and Adam was hauling the mail there so I’m anxious to see how we do!
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports