Flying Lizard Motorsport is probably one of the reasons I became a deeply-entrenched Porsche fanatic, as their red and silver 997s served to dominate the American Le Mans Series in the late-aughts, and I loved watching Pat Long and Jorg Bergmeister scrapping at the front of the field week after week. Hero-level racing, in hero-level cars. It was sure influential. Then, a few years ago, they left Porsches in endurance racing and started racing McLarens in sprint races. They'll still be doing that next year, but now they're adding a pair of GTS class Caymans to go with their pair of 650S GT3 McLarens in the GT category.
Here is what Flying Lizard had to say about their new Porsche expansion in a press release:
As part of a continued expansion of its customer racing program, Flying Lizard Motorsports has confirmed it will be adding a two car entry to its Pirelli World Challenge efforts for 2017, entering two Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR race cars in the Grand Touring Sedan (GTS) class. Flying Lizard's continued relationship with Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA) will strengthen the effort, becoming a part of the North American Young Driver Development program.
"This just feels right to see Flying Lizard Motorsports back again with a Porsche program," said Program Manager Darren Law. "We have had so many successful and memorable races with Porsche. Much of my driving career has been with Flying Lizard Motorsports, so I am happy that we will have the opportunity to join forces with Porsche for the upcoming season."
Flying Lizard proudly joined the Porsche family upon its professional racing inception in 2004, entering into full season competition in the American Le Mans Series. From 2007 to 2012, Flying Lizard Motorsports ran as a factory supported effort, with 2013 being the final season the team would run full season with Porsche Factory Drivers. In the nine year relationship, the Lizards and Porsche acquired three driver championships, three team championships and two manufacturer championships. Much to the delight of the devoted fan base, in 2016, the team unveiled a Lizard liveried Porsche 911 GT3 R for competition in select amateur and professional racing events.
The 2017 season with the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR will mark the first time the team has run a full season Porsche entry since 2013. After its debut and class victory earlier this year at the 24 Hours of Nuerburgring, the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR has been homologated by the SRO, making it eligible for national and international competition in the GT4 class. The two Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs will race the entirety of the estimated nine race GTS season, and in the traditional Lizard livery.
The combined effort of Flying Lizard Motorsports and PMNA will provide up and coming young racers the opportunity to develop their race craft and compete on a challenging level within the Pirelli World Challenge while being watched by the Porsche Young Driver coaches.
"For Flying Lizard, this is a great opportunity to work with Porsche both on and off the race circuit to develop young drivers," said Law. "We are giving them the opportunity to be viewed and evaluated by one of the most successful and iconic manufacturers in the industry."
"We are pleased to welcome Flying Lizard Motorsports back into the Porsche Motorsport fold, fulltime," said Jens Walther, Porsche Motorsport North America, president and CEO. "Our fans still fondly remember the 911 RSRs they campaigned in their unique livery. For the 'Lizards' to come back with the new Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, is welcoming news for all. Their interest and involvement with young drivers is a great reminder of their unwavering dedication to motorsport."
The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge begins March 10-12 in Florida for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Drivers for the two Flying Lizard Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs will be announced at a later date.
"The GT4 cars are ultra-competitive and I am confident the Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR will be able to race for a championship," concluded Law. "The goal is to not only win races and championships but to develop drivers to give them the opportunity to have a career as a professional."
And in a separate press release just earlier today, the first of the team's two drivers has been announced. Flying Lizard have signed 17-year-old Nate Stacy (above) to drive the first of their Caymans. The kid is a truly impressive youngster, having netted his first Touring Car class victory as a 14 year old, as well as an impressive eight further podiums that season. During the 2016 season, Stacy competed as a driver for Roush Performance in one of their Mustangs, and continued to impress. Here's the full release on Nate Stacy joining the program.
Flying Lizard Motorsports made headlines last week following the announcement of its 2017 program in the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class. The Porsche team has now announced 2016 stand out driver Nate Stacy as the first driver to sign for the two car effort. Stacy has signed a one year deal with Flying Lizard Motorsports with the option to pursue a second year. Seventeen year old Stacy showed an impressive performance throughout the 2016 season, earning one win and eight podiums in his first full season in the GTS class.
"It means a lot to me as a driver to be a part of this effort," said Stacy. "It is a big step forward for me to run with such a proven race team with so much history. With their experience, it'll be exciting to learn so much from the whole team."
The Oklahoma native began his racing career at age twelve, winning two races in the production altered Comma Series, as well as becoming the youngest driver to not only finish in the top 10, but to even compete in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. Stacy returned to the Comma Series in 2013 and became the youngest driver to win the championship, earning six wins and two top five finishes.
He joined the Pirelli World Challenge in 2014, competing in the Touring Car class. In his rookie season, he earned one win and an impressive eight podium finishes. The following year, Stacy focused on gaining experience and furthering his development as a driver, starting the season in the TC class before switching to GTS for the remainder of the season.
At just 16 years old, Stacy entered the 2016 season as a full season GTS entry with Roush Performance, showing increased talent with every race. He capped off the season with one of his most impressive drives to date, starting from the back of the grid to finish third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"I've come a long way in this last season," said Stacy. "I still need to improve on my driving before I step into GT, so there's still a lot to learn."
As part of the driver development program that Flying Lizard Motorsports has established with Porsche to coach and cultivate young talents in North America, Stacy will race one of two FLMPorsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MRs. The 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS season kicks off at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, March 10-12.
Program Manager Darren Law
With our latest announcement of Flying Lizard coming back into the Porsche Motorsport fold fulltime, we have a lot a great things happening for the upcoming season. One of our goals is to give young drivers the right opportunity in the racing industry to be successful and showcase their talent. During the last two seasons in Pirelli World Challenge, I have had the opportunity to watch some of the other classes, especially the GTS Class and follow the progress of some of the up and coming talent. This is a great platform for young drivers, and Nate Stacy is one that really caught my eye. He showed the ability on track with raw speed, he was able to fight for podiums and wins in a car that was difficult to drive. He showed great race craft in difficult conditions against some veteran drivers, and we felt he should be given an opportunity with our program. The combination of Flying Lizard Motorsports, Porsche Motorsport, and the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR will be the right platform to do just that. We are happy to announce the signing of Nate Stacy as one of our drivers for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GTS class.
[Source: Flying Lizard Motorsports (lizardms.com)]