One of the toughest days in Flying Lizard Motorsports’ history as an organization came to a similarly frustrating ending when Spencer Pumpelly’s left rear tire went down in the eighth hour to cause the 12th yellow flag of this year’s Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Pumpelly lost the rear on corner exit and hit the tire barrier at the corner in his No. 45 Audi R8 LMS. He got out of the car and was OK, but the damage was serious to both the car and the tire barrier.
It capped off a day that involved a penalty issued following contact between the No. 45 and No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP early in the race, Pumpelly’s left-side door coming loose, a second instance of contact between the No. 90 and No. 45 at Turn 10 where a penalty was issued and later rescinded following the No. 90’s wave-by attempt, an engine sensor issue and a flat left rear tire for Nelson Canache.
The Venezuelan was able to limp the car back to the pits on that occasion. A flat for the sister No. 35 entry also occurred during the race.
The Lizard’s accident was one of two major dust-ups in the eighth hour. The other came following the restart from the 11th full-course caution.
Contact between the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3, driven by Markus Palttala, pitched the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford of Memo Rojas into a spin and facing the wrong direction at Turn 10.
That also collected Michael Valiante in the aforementioned No. 90, which has had a fraught race, while Patrick Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR took evasive action to the grass to avoid any contact.
No caution flew on that occasion.
At the eight-hour mark, and after completing 311 laps, Christian Fittipaldi led overall in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP by 8.4 seconds over Ricky Taylor. That helped the No. 5 to secure more points in the quest for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup titles.
Other class leaders, and top TPNAEC points scorers in the second segment of the race, were Tom Kimber-Smith for 8Star Motorsports (PC), Wolf Henzler for Team Falken Tire (GTLM) and Christopher Haase for Paul Miller Racing (GTD).
Henzler led the fellow Porsche of Patrick Long, the No. 912 factory entry. Henzler’s lead was enough, unofficially, to clinch the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Manufacturer’s championship.
The recent yellows have brought the PMR Audi R8 LMS, which had been on a different strategy, closer to the leaders in class.
Of the overall title contenders, the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R currently sits third in GTLM and would put Kuno Wittmer in the GTLM title seat, while the No. 93 Viper and No. 3 Corvette sit sixth and eighth.
In GTD, Turner’s BMW still runs second, while the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche and No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari are stuck in seventh and eighth. It would put Dane Cameron in pole position for the GTD driver’s title.