The Pirelli World Challenge is halfway complete, and this weekend, the series journeys to Elkhart Lake Wisconsin for the Grand Prix of Road America. Flying Lizard Motorsports will return to the fan favorite track with its two full season Audi R8 LMS GT4 sports cars in addition to a third entry of a Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Flying Lizard customer Andy Wilzoch.
Due to the size of the course, the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Road America will feature all GT, GTA, GT Cup, GTS, and GTSA participants, marking the first time the series has combined all five fields. Forty entrants will compete on the 4.048 mile road course, with every session except qualifying featuring the combined field.
Following the SprintX double header at Lime Rock Park three weeks ago, the series returns to the regular race format for rounds three and four of the GTSA championship and rounds four and five for the GTA championship.
As the series returns to the regular Sprint championship, full time drivers Mike Hedlund in the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4 and Adam Merzon in the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 will be the only drivers of their cars this weekend. Within the last two events, both drivers celebrated their first pole positions of the year, with Mike Hedlund earning three podiums to date this season.
Longtime Flying Lizard Motorsports customer Andy Wilzoch will return to the Pirelli World Challenge for the first time since 2016. That year, Wilzoch made his PWC GTA class debut at Road America, finishing third in both races. He will make his return in the No. 46 Porsche 911 GT3 R, this time in a new livery representing his longtime sponsor and partner, Stiles Machinery.
Always a fan favorite event on the race calendar, Road America first opened for business in 1955, and currently hosts a variety of racing, including karts, NASCAR, sports cars, and open wheel. The facility sits on 640 acres of rolling hills and woods in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, roughly 60 miles north of Milwaukee. Flying Lizard Motorsports earned its one and only Road America victory in 2013 with Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache, but has celebrated nine podiums and sixteen top five finishes at the Elkhart Lake track.
The Engineering: From Team Engineer Jim Bell
Road America is a very difficult track from an endurance standpoint, because if something happens, you’re a long way from the pits and have to limp the car back or park it. Dependability of car is serious because it’s a very fast place, and very long place. It’s technical for the driver, and very technical for the engineer.
You’re going to go as fast as the car will go into turn one. We probably won’t go faster anywhere else, any track we go to. There’s a heavy emphasis on braking into turn one because of the long, fast straightaway. It’s a technical run through the brake zone on the left hander, and into turn five, which is one of the few places at this track you can pass, and one of the more desirable places to get by.
We’ll make technical adjustments necessary to get through carousel, which is an off camber, constant decreasing radius, long right hander. After that, you have the kink, which is another gutsy technical scenario, because you’re going so fast. Then you have Canada corner, which is followed by a long straight, and hard breaking, and getting up the hill.
For this course, you have to set up for the high speed and mid speed parts of the track. The kink has to have mid speed and agility, and enough grip to be able to get through there. This is very important to the lap time.
Last but not least, it rains at Road America, and it rains a lot. It dries immediately here, which is amazing. It’s one of the fastest drying tracks we have now. Even in the rain, there’s grip on the track, but it’s a different rain line through the twists and technical parts. You have to always have a rain set up in your back pocket because the weather can come up quickly.
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4 | GTSA Class
After having strong pace and a bit of bad luck at Lime Rock, I’m excited to get to return to one of the best tracks in the world! Road America should suit the strengths of our #45 Flying Lizard Opti-Coat Audi R8 and we’re all looking forward to some strong results for the team. Having combined GT and GTS races for the first time this weekend should make for an interesting event as it’ll be a new experience for many of the GTS competitors. I’m hoping my experience in multi-class endurance racing will give us a slight advantage and keep us out of trouble. Can’t wait to meet all the Flying Lizard fans back at Road America!
Adam Merzon | No. 23 Audi R8 LMS GT4 | GTSA Class
At Lime Rock we showed we had the pace to run with anybody in the series so I’m hopeful that we can continue our progress with the Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi. We’re racing alongside the GT3 cars at Road America so that adds another challenge to the race but I raced with those cars last year and I’m hoping that gives me an advantage on some of my competitors. The Flying Lizard team has won at this track before, so I know they’ll be working hard to get me to the front.
Andy Wilzoch | No. 46 Porsche 911 GT3 R | GTA Class
I am very excited to race and my wife is looking forward to cheese! Road America is always such a fun event, for competitors as well as fans. I’m excited to be returning to the Pirelli World Challenge, and looking forward to getting the Stiles Porsche on track! Hopefully we can again finish strong on the podium. The increased level of multi-class racing the series has introduced will make things interesting, and hopefully we can bring home some strong results.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports