Exclusive: Flying Lizard Goes with Audi for 2014

Photos: Bob Chapman/Autosport Image

Photos: Bob Chapman/Autosport Image

After racing Porsches since its inception nearly a decade ago, a new chapter for Flying Lizard Motorsports will begin next year, as the California-based team makes the switch to a new manufacturer for the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

The two-time American Le Mans Series GT class champions, which also won this year’s GTC teams’ title, has confirmed to Sportscar365 Monday that it will campaign two Audi R8 LMS cars in the GT Daytona category.

While the full driver lineup will be announced at a later date, team principal Seth Neiman will continue behind the wheel, but now piloting one of the team’s brand-new mid-engined sports cars.

“This is certainly a substantial change for the team as Porsche has been a great partner for many years,” Neiman said. “Equally, Audi is a great company with a spectacular racing pedigree, a serious commitment to GT racing, and a great desire to forge an alliance to continue both of our winning traditions far into the future.

“They know how to win, we know how to win, and we both are totally focused on doing just that. This is a strong foundation for a long and successful relationship.”

Considered to be the most successful GT3 car in the world, the R8 claimed 40 wins and 113 podiums in 211 races in 2012 alone, as well as finishing 1-2 in class in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

With many teams, particularly in the GTD category, starting with a clean sheet of paper, team manager Eric Ingraham felt the timing was right to make the move to a new manufacturer.

“Going into next year, we’ve got a new racing series, a new class and it would be a new car for us, no matter what. From a car standpoint and a technical standpoint, it’s a low impact year to do it in terms of that,” Ingraham told Sportscar365.

“Our intent is to be competitive as quickly as possible. The R8 is a proven car in Rolex GT and we’re very confident it will be competitive immediately. It’s a known commodity in endurance racing worldwide.”

The move comes after running Porsches for the last ten seasons, which included a six-year run as a factory backed operation in the ALMS GT class.

Ingraham stressed the decision to go with Audi in GTD was not influenced by their initial negotiations with Porsche to run its works GT Le Mans program for 2014, which went to CORE autosport.

“We wouldn’t have made this change to do something for one year,” Ingraham added. “It’s a big decision obviously, and I know some of our fans are going to love it and some of our fans are not going to love it. But it’s really about what puts us in a great position as a team for the long-term.

“Audi is very committed to GT racing and GT Daytona and this car in the TUDOR Championship. We think it was a great thing to do and the right time to do it and would have only done it with commitment, as we do with everything on the team.”

The Lizards got their first taste of the R8 last month in a test at Putnam Park, with the team set to take delivery of their own cars at Audi Sport Customer Racing USA’s headquarters in Indiana this week.

Both cars are slated to take part in the official pre-season tests at Sebring and Daytona, beginning this weekend.

17 Comments

  1. Steven W

    November 11, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I’m sad to hear that Flying Lizard is leaving the Porsche stable to race Audis. I started following them because they raced the 911. At least they are going to still be involved in the series and if they had to move to another manufacturer Audi is a good choice. There will still be options to cheer on Porsches in the new series, but Flying Lizard had a first class operation and did a great job connecting with their fans.

    • rissas dad

      November 11, 2013 at 9:46 am

      I guess you are a Porsche fan. As an Audi owner, I will now be cheering for FLM as well as GMG and Fall-Line. Variety is GOOD!
      Porsches, Audis, Ferraris, and a Viper so far in GTD.

      • kak133

        November 11, 2013 at 4:38 pm

        TRG has the Aston Martin V12 Vantage as well.

        • Matt

          November 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

          I’m really disappointed by the V12 Vantage, it sounds like a whisper when it goes by.

          • Tim

            November 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

            really?!? This car was supposed to debut at Road America…It didn’t, they lied! I was sad lol

    • Raphael

      November 29, 2013 at 1:45 am

      i don’t know what your opinion if this is, but doesn’t the lizard emblem look like a Charizard to you? (Oh, Charizard is a Pokemon).

  2. djosbun

    November 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

    The Flying Lizard organization has proven that they know how to go sports car racing. They operate as close to a manufacturer team as is possible for a privateer and obviously have the team talent to win. I’ll never forget how they leased a Grand Am Daytona Prototype for the Daytona 24, tested it for a few days and ended up taking pole position for the race. The weakest link was always Seth behind the wheel, but he brings the fat wallet.

  3. norcalaircooled

    November 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    im only sad because the move to GTD means no trip to LeMans for them anymore.

    • Doug

      November 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Not necessarily. Dempsey did it by leasing a LeMans car when he went last year.

      If the Lizards wanted to do it, they could do the same thing.

  4. Jason

    November 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Two questions this brings up:

    1. Can FLM even get a 2nd entry with the car cap rule?
    2. What would be the car number of the 2nd entry if there is one? 44 is taken my Magnus and 46 I think goes to Fall Line.

    • Kevin

      November 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      1. I would think they would be given the opportunity to run 2 cars, since they ran 2 cars in GTC last year.
      2. Your guess is as good as mine, but if 44 and/or 46 aren’t available, they could opt to run their Le Mans numbers (79-81).

      • Shaun

        November 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm

        Per the FLMS press release sent out this morning the #44 FLMS will be replaced with #35 as Magnus has #44

    • joe

      November 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      number 34 i saw

  5. Hedgey

    November 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Great stuff. Anything other than a deluge of Porsches is welcome.

  6. thomas

    November 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I feel that the driving force behind this decision is the need for variety in GTD. Probably more likely to receive two entries with something other than porsches.

  7. mark trank

    November 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Welcome news for the Lizards and their fans. They have been one of the best and classiest teams in the ALMS for years. No knock on CORE Autosport, but FLM has been THE Porsche team in sports car racing in the US and if Porsche NA is going to choose another team to run their factory car, they might as well go with the R8, which is a proven international GT winner. Plus, as someone else said, more variety in sports car racing is a good thing.

  8. Jeff Wagner

    November 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    Hopefully this is a start getting back to the cutting edge technology of the GT LE-MANS class in 2015. GT-DAYTONA is good but that is where they belong in 2015!!!

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