The Racer's Group qualified for Sunday's ALMS Grand Prix of Portland today, with Porsche factory driver leading the TRG charge in 6th position in the GT class. Long raced his ...
The Racer's Group qualified for Sunday's ALMS Grand Prix of Portland today, with Porsche factory driver leading the TRG charge in 6th position in the GT class. Long raced his #66 New Century Mortgage/Monster Cable Porsche 911 GT3 RSR around the sweltering Portland International Raceway at 1:14.534, and will start tomorrow's race in fifth position in the GT field. Conditions were brutal on Friday and Saturday both, as a record temperature of 103 was set in the early afternoon Friday. The extreme temperatures caused a number of problems for the ALMS teams, as drivers suffered through 150 cockpit temperatures and crew members sweated through their fire suits. Particularly affected were tire compounds; at the start of qualifying the track temperature was recorded at 135 making tire choice imperative.
Long's co-driver Cort Wagner, of Pacific Palisades, CA, commented on the setup strategy for Sunday's race. "The heat here makes us have to focus a great deal on balance," he said. "We're trying to set up a race car that's neutral over the duration of its stint -- the high temperatures make the grip of the tires go away very rapidly, so we're being very conservative on the way we set the car up in relation to tire life. With the weight of the engine over the driven wheels on a Porsche, maintaining grip in the rear wheels is very important to a competitive race car."
Pierre Ehret qualified his #67 Flamingo Resort/TRG Porsche in 11th position, setting his fastest time of the weekend in the process. "The new set of tires for qualifying helped a great deal in lowering our times from the morning session," he said. "We still have some snappy oversteer in the car which limits how fast we can go through corners, but otherwise we're doing great. I'm looking forward to the race as we've set the car up for endurance rather than outright speed. Simply put, it's very hot today."
Team owner Kevin Buckler reflected on the week's developments. "It's wonderful to have all the top GT cars grouped so tightly," he said, "and it's gratifying to see our guys do so well. Patrick and Cort have been driving very well all weekend, and it was great to see Pierre lay down a flyer in qualifying. As usual, we build our race cars to be competitive for the duration of a race rather than focusing on building fragile qualifying cars, but I like our position for tomorrow."
Round five of the 2004 ALMS season takes place Sunday, July 27 at Portland International Raceway. Speed Channel will broadcast the race live at 4pm ET, and will cover the entire race.