Patrick Long, driving the ...
Patrick Long, driving the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, claimed his second consecutive and third career ALMS GT Driver's Championship with a 5th place finish at Petit Le Mans. Long and teammate Jörg Bergmeister were joined by fellow Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb, who himself won the 2010 European-based Le Mans Series GT driver's championship just two weeks ago. Patrick was GT champion in 2005 while driving for Petersen White Lightning in the ALMS, and now has claimed successive championships for Flying Lizard Motorsports in 2009 and 2010. All three of his championships have come with Bergmeister. Furthermore, the duo won the Michelin Green X Challenge for the season in the #45; the Green X Challenge rewards the car that go the farthest, fastest while making the smallest environmental impact. Long and Bergmeister won four races in the season - at Long Beach, Laguna Seca, Lime Rock and Mosport.
The tense race saw eight different leaders in GT, including both the team cars from the Risi Ferrari team, Extreme Speed Ferrari team, Corvette Racing team and RLR BMW team. The #62 Ferrari of Toni Vilander and Gimmi Bruni, which had looked set to win, ran out of fuel with less than two corners to go on the last lap of the race, handing victory to the #4 Corvette. When Ferrari's gamble failed to pay off, Ferrari lost the manufacturer's championship to BMW. Flying Lizard Motorsport finished second to Rahal Letterman Racing in the team championship - by a single point. As predicted, the 2010 ALMS GT class was frighteningly competitive. With Porsche and BMW splitting the championships by only a few points and both the manufacturer's and team championships coming down to the last two turns of the last lap of the season, that competition lived up to its billing.
Patrick said, "We really stole this championship, in a way. To earn our past titles, we would race against one or two competitive cars, but this year, we were both lucky and good against the best sports cars and top road racers in the world - eight cars which could win at any given event. This was indeed our sweetest championship ever. Pulling out the victories that we had this season only comes when every single person hits their mark from the start to the very end of the race weekend. I've never worked with a group like the Lizards that demonstrates such a common goal of victory but with mutual respect for one another. This year we all proved to ourselves that we can go up against the best and that we can win. I'm really proud to be part of the team and a small part of this huge success."
Patrick won't be out of action for too long - he heads to Surfer's Paradise, Australia on October 22 to race in the Australian V8 Supercars Gold Coast 600 with Garry Rogers Motorsport in a Holden, then will race in the Intercontinental Le Mans Challenge (ILMC) finale at Zhuhai, China in the new Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid on November 6-7.