Flying Lizard Motorsports has been a staple on the North American sports car racing scene for years, and will be focussing on running a pair of Audi R8 LMS GT4 machines in Pirelli World Challenge GTS competition next year.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Flying Lizard team principal/program manager Darren Law fills us in on the team’s offseason changes and provides some insight into a team that has long been a fan favorite.
What went into the decision to switch from Porsche to Audi in Pirelli World Challenge GTS next season?
“There were several factors that pushed us in that direction and it was not an easy decision. When you evaluate the performance potential of the new cars compared to the existing GT4 cars you have to take a serious look at the different options.
“It is about picking a program that has an opportunity to not only produce success in 2018 but for many seasons beyond. We have had a long relationship with Porsche and we won several races last season but there is such a demand right now for the GT4 class and part of that is driven by all of the new cars that are available.
“Performance is just one factor, the support system from the manufacture is also very important, from BoP to marketing to track side support and cost, all of these factors helped us to choose the Audi R8 LMS GT4.”
Did your previous relationship with Audi in IMSA and the Audi program at Thunderhill in recent years make the choice an easier one?
“Yes, having had a relationship with Audi and also still racing and winning with our R8 GT3 played a role in our decision.
“We know the people in the organization, we know the system and we have had success with them both in IMSA and as you mentioned at Thunderhill so they were at the top of our list.”
How much work is it behind the scenes when you switch manufacturers? Is there a great deal of new equipment needed?
“There is quite a bit of work that has to be done behind the scenes. The team has to get acquainted with a new car and understand the nuances of how things work, we have to restock with all new parts, understand a new system and procedures.
“It also takes a lot of new equipment as not everything transfers over from one manufacturer to another like set up fixtures, fueling systems and even tools.”
What is the focus of the team in the next month and a half until the season begins in St. Petersburg?
“Aside from rebranding everything, once we get the cars, we have to completely go through go through them to understand everything, prepare them the way we want things to be so that they work best for our team’s procedures.
“We want to understand what they require for setup and the drivers need to get comfortable as well which means testing.”
How has SprintX changed the business model for teams like yours?
“What the series does with the racing program is critical for our business, in theory this should bring more drivers but it hasn’t proven to do that yet for us.
“Last season GT3 had SprintX and GT4 did not. This year both classes are running SprintX so things are still changing and I think many teams are struggling with how to adjust the business model to make this work for them.
“We need some consistency to properly structure things, so as of right now, I can’t say for certain that SprintX has helped us or hurt us. We are still trying to adjust the business model to work for this type of program.”