Patrick Lindsey, whose team fields the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, and six-time IMSA champion Joerg Bergmeister are now winners of the GTE Am class in the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Lindsey and Bergmeister teamed with Norwegian driver Egidio Perfeffi in the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR at Le Mans and took the checkered flag in second place at the end of the race on Sunday behind the No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ford GT shared by IMSA competitors Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga.
However, the No. 85 was disqualified late Monday due to a breach of fuel tank capacity regulations revealed in post-race technical inspection, giving the class victory to the No. 56 team. It was the first Le Mans victory for Lindsey, who also clinched the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) GTE Am “Super Season” championship alongside Bergmeister and Perfetti.
“Well, it’s certainly unexpected news,” said Lindsey, who will return to IMSA competition in his No. 73 Porsche at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on June 30. “Winning the championship was the goal going into the race and having accomplished that with a second-place finish was beyond satisfying. With the news that we are now the winners, it’s a lot to wrap my head around.
“For starters, I felt like we had already executed the perfect race, so to be made the winners – even post-race – feels like the perfect reward to the team for such a monumental effort. It’s the biggest race victory in my career and to go along with capping off the Super Season championship is just too amazing to express.
“Pride in my teammates, relief of the past months of trying to maintain the championship, and of course, thankfulness of the full support of my wife, family and friends are emotions just swirling around that I can’t really distinguish. I’m looking forward to digesting it all and getting a little perspective of the whole thing, then figure out how to do it all again.”
German driver Bergmeister is a six-time IMSA champion, tied for fifth most all time. He was selected as one of the 50 Great IMSA Drivers in the “IMSA: Celebrating 50 Years” book to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of IMSA Celebration in 2019. This was his second class victory at Le Mans.
“Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the perfect finish to our first FIA WEC season and makes our two titles even more precious,” Bergmeister said.
Another past IMSA champion, Jeff Segal, moved up to second in GTE Am at Le Mans in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE alongside co-drivers Manuela Gostner and Rahel Frey.
And moving onto the GTE Am podium were more IMSA regulars in the Scuderia Corsa-run No. 62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE squad of Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander, as well as the Le Mans teammate, Robert Smith, in third place.
“Not the way you want to get up on the podium,” said MacNeil, who also finished third at Le Mans in 2017. “Our WeatherTech Ferrari ran a flawless race and the drivers didn’t put a wheel off over the 24 hours. The strategy and pit stops were great by the Scuderia Corsa team as well. We started planning our 2020 Le Mans this morning with the goal of getting on the top step of the podium next year.”
In addition to the No. 85 entry, the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA entry shared by 2016 Le Mans winners and IMSA regulars Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais also was disqualified for a similar breach of fuel-tank regulations after finishing fourth in the GTE Pro class.
Bleekemolen reacted to news of the No. 85 team’s disqualification on social media.
“A rollercoaster full of emotions,” he said. “It took us 24 hours to win the race, took us 24 hours to get disqualified and it took me 24 hours to move on. Was very hard to take this one in. But very proud of the race we have done. Rules are rules and we didn’t comply. Let’s come back stronger and make sure the result still counts Monday night after the race next time. Big thanks to the whole team! Can’t wait to go back out there.”
Photo Credit: Porsche