Twelve years have passed since Flying Lizard last raced at Portland International Raceway in the American Le Mans Series, and this weekend, the sports car team will return to the Oregon track for the Pirelli World Challenge Rose Cup Races for rounds seven and eight of the GTS SprintX Championship.
The 2018 Pirelli World Challenge calendar is split into eight 50 minute Sprint races with one driver per car, and ten SprintX races. This weekend’s double header will give Portland fans their first taste of a SprintX weekend, where all competitors must perform their mandatory pit stops and driver changes during a ten minute window in the one hour race. Tire changes are not allowed during GTS class pit stops.
Per the Pirelli World Challenge rule book, as a bronze driver, Mike Hedlund is permitted to run the entire race by himself, but will still be required to make the mandatory pit stop for the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4. Hedlund has earned four GTSA class podiums this season at St. Petersburg, Circuit of the Americas, VIRginia International Raceway and Road America.
Ryan Eversley will return as co-driver to support full season driver Adam Merzon in the No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 in the GTSA class. Each driver will need to complete the minimum about of drive time during both races, and will each have to start one race and finish the other.
Portland International Raceway has a different history than most race tracks on the 2018 schedule. The city of Vanport, Oregon was built in World War II, and became Oregon’s second largest city. Home to 400,000 people, a flood in 1948 completely destroyed Vanport, leaving the site to be abandoned until 1960 when the city of Portland purchased the land. A year later, the first Rose Cup race was held, and has now become an annual tradition. The Pirelli World Challenge last visited the track in 2005, and the service has since been repaved.
Flying Lizard Motorsports has competed at Portland International Raceway with the American Le Mans Series in 2004, 2005, and 2006, earning two podiums and four top five finishes. In 2004, the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Darren Law and Johannes van Overbeek underwent an engine change between the morning warm up and the race, forcing the team to start from the rear of the field. After starting the race from pit lane after the rest of the field had taken the green flag, Law and van Overbeek finished in an impressive second place.
The Engineering: From Team Engineer Jim Bell
It’s rare that we return to a track after such an extended period of time, and this provides an interested set of tasks for drivers and engineers. Since we haven’t tested at this track recently, we have to rely on the feedback of locals who participate in track days or work on cars at the track. We’re expecting the track surface to be bumpy, which means we’ll have to focus on a lot of shock work like we do at tracks like Sebring International Raceway. Instead of coming in to this race weekend with our standard configuration, our concentration will be focusing on the track condition and what set up is best for the cars.
At older tracks like this, we have to consider the possibility that the fast way around the track may not be the proper line. Knowing that, we’ll find a technical setup that allows us to deal with whatever track conditions we may have, and then we’ll work from there. We’ll keep the car within the proper ride height and within its capabilities, and we’ll have the ability to be agile and give the car the capability to be adjustable.
Mike Hedlund | No. 45 Audi R8 LMS GT4
I’ve never been to Portland before and I’m looking forward to learning the first of two new tracks! We showed strong pace and left Road America with good momentum and expect to continue that up north at Portland International Raceway. Hope to see all the Lizard fans at the track this weekend and put on a good show!
Adam Merzon | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4
I learned a lot at Road America about race craft and I plan to continue to utilize that skill set in Portland. Our last Sprint X race had potential for a win and resulted in the track record for our Case-It Audi. That’s a testament to the Flying Lizard crew and how hard they work. They deserve a podium and we really want to give them one in the Pacific Northwest.
Ryan Eversley | No. 23 Case-It Racing by Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4
I’m excited to be heading back to Portland to race in the Rose Cup weekend! The last time I was there in 2005 as a mechanic I remember a ton of fans that came out and were excited about the event, so I’m looking forward to more of the same. The track should suit our Case-It machine and anytime you show up with the Lizards you have a leg up on the competition, so hopefully Adam and I can take advantage of that.
Source. Flying Lizard Motorsports