Patrick Lindsey believes Team Project 1’s result in Sunday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans has “solidified their right” as FIA World Endurance GTE-Am champions following a “tumultuous” season in the pro-am class.
Lindsey and co-drivers Joerg Bergmeister and Egidio Perfetti finished second in GTE-Am and took home first-place WEC points in the 2018-19 season finale, which was more than enough to clinch the drivers’ title as well as the teams’ championship for the German Porsche squad.
It came after a hard-fought race that saw Bergmeister challenge for the GTE-Am win in the closing stages after issues struck the Keating Motorsports Ford GT.
“It was a difficult thing as you want to push for the win,” Lindsey told Sportscar365. “But I don’t think we had anything for the Ford, really, at the end of the day.
“They were too good on tires, too good on long runs and overall pace. They showed that throughout the whole race and had the car to beat.
“Not that Joerg didn’t try, he had to remember the risks taken in traffic ultimately could ruin the bigger picture, which was the championship.
“To win the championship as being the top-placing car in the WEC here was special.
“It solidified our right to be on the top to win this championship, so that was great for the team.”
While ending the season with a 41-point margin over the second-placed No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche duo of Matt Campbell and Christian Ried, Project 1’s title was impacted by the disqualification at Fuji and removal of all points for the Proton squad in the first four rounds due to a data logger scandal.
It immediately put Lindsey, Bergmeister and Perfetti into the points lead following the Shanghai race, after surviving a challenging first half of the season for the first-year WEC team.
“Looking back at the season, we had a rough start with a new team and a little bit of turnover in the early days as we sought to get it right,” Lindsey said. “But it came together fast.
“We were on a steep learning curve and we had really good drives and pit stops. The execution came together really well.
“We always struggled for pace at times in terms of the car in qualifying but you look back at our execution in the things we overcame, like Sebring our car burning down… Shanghai with the wrong tire choice, on and on and on…
“This team overcame a lot of tumultuous races.”
Lindsey said he was particularly proud of their performance at Le Mans the second time around after taking the lessons learned from the team’s 24-hour debut last year.
“I think all of us, especially the team, felt so much better this year having one [Le Mans] under our belt that we were just ready to get to work,” he said.
“You could see it from the green flag to the checkered flag. Every pit stop was perfect; we really didn’t put a wheel wrong.
“That’s the kind of day you want when you’re trying to win a championship and it comes down to the last race.”
“Nothing Set in Stone” For Lindsey Next Season
Lindsey said he’s still yet to decide whether he will return to defend his GTE-Am title next season, hinting that his increasing business and racing commitments in America could take priority.
The Park Place Motorsports team owner has seen a recent expansion of its customer racing efforts, which Lindsey indicated could take priority over a full-season WEC run in 2019-20.
“Obviously I have a team back in America that needs me,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out how we can do this and IMSA with Patrick Long, who is our full-season guy. A team championship in IMSA would mean a lot as well.
“But this WEC championship, the Super Season has been really tremendous.
“For me, getting to spread my wings a little bit, seeing new places, experiencing new things and a different championship has been a lot of fun and rewarding.
“If it’s possible to do it again, that would be fun and fantastic.
“But we’re obviously trying to grow our program back in the States. If it takes me away from that too much, then I’ll probably have to stick with the Park Place crew and team and clients and drivers because there’s a lot going on.”
Project 1 has already confirmed its WEC return as a team, with an expansion to a two-car effort.