Road Atlanta II: Patrick Long ALMS debut report

Long comes up Grand at Petit Le Mans; helps propel Racer's Group to 4th place. BRASELTON, Ga. Racing in his homeland for the first time this year, American Patrick Long drove sensationally in his first-ever endurance race, helping propel the ...

Long comes up Grand at Petit Le Mans; helps propel Racer's Group to 4th place.

BRASELTON, Ga. Racing in his homeland for the first time this year, American Patrick Long drove sensationally in his first-ever endurance race, helping propel the Racer's Group Porsche GT3 RS to a come-from-behind fourth place finish in the GT Class at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Driving with teammates Kevin Buckler and Cort Wagner, Long pulled a double-stint in the race's waning hours as the team tried to make-up ground lost for an early-race incident that resulted in a flat tire and a yellow-flag lost lap. Long set a blistering pace, picking up four positions in his final stint.

"It was great to finish my first endurance race," Long said. "It was an emotional experience to come from behind and finish strong. Once I was in the groove, all the elements fell into place.

"I have to thank Kevin and Cort for helping me come to grips with endurance racing. They were invaluable, sharing all they knew about getting the best from their Porsche. Most importantly, they had confidence in me and gave me the opportunity to drive the double shift at the end. All weekend, those two guys really shortened my learning curve."

Long had several adjustments to make, foremost being a kinder, gentler driver. "Supercup and Carrera races are a sprint," he explained. "You only have to make the car 'live' for 80 fender-banging kilometers. In endurance races, the health of the car is much more important."

Long also had to adapt to a slightly different Porsche GT than the one he pilots for the UPS Porsche Junior team in the German Carrera Cup and Michelin Supercup series. The American Le Mans Series GT Porsche has more horsepower, is heavier, and is more stiffly sprung, and does not utilize ABS brakes.

Considering the different car, endurance format and dealing with lapped and lapping traffic, Long's performance was indeed impressive. He was particularly quick driving in the dark, lapping only three-tenths off his daylight lap times. Long spent a total of four hours behind the wheel.

Long earned seventh place in the recently completed 2003 German Carrera Cup series, an outstanding result for a rookie a rookie who had never before raced cars with fenders. He scored two podium finishes, including a victory in Round Six at the Norisring. Twice he suffered cut-tires while leading. Long also won twice at the Snetterton circuit in England while competing as a guest in the British Carrera Cup. In addition, Long showed well in select Michelin Porsche Supercup races, scoring a third at Monaco and a second at the Nurburgring, from pole.

This was Long's sixth year of living and racing in Europe, where he has won international events in karting, Formula Ford, Formula Renault, and the German Porsche Carrera Cup. For more information on Patrick Long visit his website at: www.patricklong.com.

-plr-

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About this article
Series ALMS , Porsche
Drivers Kevin Buckler , Patrick Long , Cort Wagner