Lindsey closing in on GTE Am title

Image by Trienitz/LAT

Lindsey closing in on GTE Am title

Le Mans/WEC

Lindsey closing in on GTE Am title

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Project 1 driver Patrick Lindsey is on the brink of something special: winning an FIA WEC GTE Am title in his debut season.

With one race to go – Le Mans – the IMSA regular has a 30-point lead at the top of the GTE Am standings, and with only 38 points on offer in the 24 Hour, there is reason for optimism.

Lindsey (center) and his Project 1 teammates at scrutineering on Monday. Image by LAT

It’s been a wild ‘Super Season’ for the American and his teammates Jorg Bergmeister and Egidio Perfetti, competing in the German team’s Porsche 911 RSR. With a win at Fuji, four further podium finishes, and a seismic change in the points due to Dempsey Proton Racing’s penalty for data tampering, the Project 1 squad finds itself atop the standings.

There have been many memorable moments: The win in Japan is obviously the high point, but the team’s huge effort to get a car ready for Sebring may be looked back on as the moment that saved its season.

Though its first chassis burned to the ground in pre-event test, the crew didn’t give up, shipping a new car in from Europe and building it up during race week to ensure they made Friday’s Sebring 1000 Miles WEC event. Lindsey and his teammates went on to finish third.

The real low came last time out in the weather chaos at Spa. The team finished fifth, crucially behind its title rivals, after Perfetti collided with Clearwater Racing’s Ferrari toward the end of the race and ended up in the barriers.

Despite this, Lindsey and the team are confident they can finish the season strong.

“I haven’t thought about the title race,” Lindsey told RACER. “I’ve rarely been in a position to win championships. For now, nothing has changed in our outlook, though there’s more on the line – there’s more to lose.

“If we celebrate a world championship after Le Mans, it’ll be special. It’ll be my first, and it’ll be dear to me, as the effort and hard work that’s gone into my racing over the last decade and a half is crazy. I’ve had lots of near-misses, so I’ll celebrate and try and do it again.”

Going into the season, which was also the first for Project 1 in GTE racing, Lindsey said the team expected it could execute well, but had no title-winning thoughts.

On a personal level, just getting up to speed with the car was a hurdle for the Californian, who has successfully juggled his commitments running Mira Vista Aviation, his WEC program, and Park Place Motorsports over the past year.

“When I first got in the 911 RSR, I didn’t like it, because it was so different from the GT3 R,” he said. “It handles truly like a mid-engined car, and it took getting used to. A Porsche usually drives like a Porsche, but this didn’t feel like one. But once I got used to it, I realized it’s a dream to drive.

“Now I want to push on with Project 1 in 2019/20, as I don’t want to say good bye to this car!”

Before next season, though, there’s one more race: the Le Mans 24 Hours. GTE Am has been incredibly competitive this year, hard-fought among all the full-season entries; so the addition of a handful of guest cars for the race in France will only add to the drama.

“There are a lot of factors to consider at Le Mans. I felt my performance [here] wasn’t good last year, and even then we were fourth toward the end, before our issue.

“If we do what we know we can, I have confidence,” Lindsey continued. “Luck will play a part, but you can’t control that. So we’ll take it lap by lap.

“Spa last year was difficult, and at Le Mans we had a brake issue that cost us third place. But putting those aside it’s been a flawless run, with podiums almost all the way. Whenever you win a race, you expect to win more, you get more confident, and that’s how we feel.

“Of course, there were deciding factors that changed the title race off the track. It’s disappointing, but we keep racing and don’t worry about the other teams.

“We’ll go into Le Mans with a cautious approach and our heads down to finish out the championship.”

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