Laguna Seca: Patrick Long race report

Patrick Long, the sole American Porsche factory driver, clinched the 2009 ALMS GT2 Driver's Championship Saturday at Laguna Seca, as he and teammate Jorg Bergmeister won a thrilling four-hour finale to the American Le Mans Series season. Long...

Patrick Long, the sole American Porsche factory driver, clinched the 2009 ALMS GT2 Driver's Championship Saturday at Laguna Seca, as he and teammate Jorg Bergmeister won a thrilling four-hour finale to the American Le Mans Series season. Long and Bergmeister capped a fantastic season in style, as the duo diced with Corvette Racing's Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen back-and-forth for the closing two hours of the race. The race came down to a five lap attack and counterattack sprint between Bergmeister and Magnussen, in which the lead was swapped multiple times, and which ended with a spectacular drag race to the finish line between Bergmeister's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Magnussen's Corvette C6.R. Magussen spectacularly crashed just before the finish line and was unhurt, leaving Bergmeister to capture he and Long's sixth ALMS GT2 victory of the season.

Patrick and Jorg have teamed for three seasons of ALMS competition in their careers, producing 14 victories together; 2009 marked Long's second ALMS GT2 championship and Bergmeister's record-equalling fourth. Additionally, 2009 also saw the duo win the GT class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, giving Patrick a victory in each of the modern endurace 'classics' over his career - the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

Laguna Corkscrew Long's six ALMS wins in 2009 helped his team Flying Lizard Motorsport capture its second consecutive Team Championship, helped Porsche take the Manufacturer's Championship, and his win at Laguna Seca marked Porsche's 100th win in ALMS competition, a record for any manufacturer. Additionally, Long and Bergmeister teamed to take two victories in the Michelin Green X Challenge. Developed in cooperation with the United States Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International., the MICHELIN® GREEN X® Challenge is a race within the race at every 2009 ALMS event. The awards are based upon a formula developed by the Argonne National Laboratory including over 30 measures of speed, distance, energy use, emissions, and environmental impact.

Long commented, "We've been saying it since Sebring this year, but the competition has been incredibly intense all season in the GT2 class of the American Le Mans Series. It was already incredible at the opener, with the factory Ferrari and BMW programs and strong privateer efforts from Panoz, Dodge and Ford, but the intensity got cranked up another notch at Mid-Ohio when Corvette debuted their GT2-class C6.R. It's been a battle royale all season as predicted.

"We started the season with a rough race, but salvaged a points finish at Sebring after two on-track incidents that we had no control over, but we buckled down and while everyone else was finding their feet in the next several races we annihilated the competition. Our run from St. Pete to Mid-Ohio really set us up for the home stretch. We took a few conservative points finishes toward the end, and finally at Laguna this weekend, once we knew we had the championship in our grasp, it was an all-out attack to win the final race. Through flawless pitstop work and strategy calls by the Flying Lizard team, we were locked in a huge fight between our Lizard Porsche and the #3 Corvette. I battled with Johnny O'Connell on the last restart for a full stint, tooth and nail, and then of course Jorg and Jan's battle went down to the line. It was a very wild end to the season."

Speed Last Lap Laguna "In retrospect, I think we had a three-step process to win the championship: the five consecutive wins, then the consistent finishes, and then a thrilling charge to the championship with a win. We accomplished everything we could have hoped for - we won six of 10 races on traditional road courses and street courses, captured the driver's, team and manufactuer championships for Flying Lizard and Porsche. For Porsche, our goal for 2010 needs to be focusing on recapturing Sebring and Le Mans, and trying to defend our championship successfully. I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that there's going to be even more fireworks in 2010 - four factory BMWs, two factory Corvettes, our sister Porsche teams, the new Jaguar program, a second Ferrari program and the always solid privateer efforts. It's going to be cutthroat all season, and fantastic for the fans. I can't wait for Sebring!"

-credit: plm

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