Patrick Long Wins Pole, Dominates GT2 Race at Bahrain FIA-GT Festival
SAKHIR, Bahrain Le Mans GT Class winner Patrick Long, the 23-year-old factory Porsche driver from Southern California, scored a sensational GT2 class victory last Friday at the inaugural Bahrain FIA-GT Festival at the Bahrain International Circuit in the Middle East. The Bahrain FIA-GT Festival drew the best sports car racers from across Europe, in an season-ending, all-star shootout.
Long, co-driving with Lars Neilson of Denmark, dominated the final half-hour of the one-hour final event in the Team Infineon Farnbacher Porsche 996 GT3-RSR.
Long was quick from his first lap of the ultra-modern Bahrain circuit, site of the recent Formula One race. He was quickest in both qualifying sessions, setting a fast lap of 2.03.64 6-tenths of second quicker than the next GT2 car. Lap qualifying was then followed by three 35-minute qualifying races (which would determine the grid order). Long handled races one and three, Neilson the second. In superb form, Long dominated the first qualifier at one point running second overall in the 48-car field -- and placed an easy second in third. Neilson finished a steady fourth in his round.
The final race was a one-hour sprint, with each driver obliged to drive at least 22 minutes. Based on Qualifying race points, Neilson took the green flag from second on the grid and held a strong third position before turning the Porsche 996 GT3 over to Long.
Although Long entered the race during a brief Safety Car caution period, it didn't him long to make his mark. He blew by the two GT2 cars ahead of him including GT2 leader Jean-Phillippe Belloc in the JMB Racing Ferrari 360 Modena and simply drove off into the proverbial distance.
At the end of the hour race, Long was a 25 seconds clear of second place. The overall race winner was ex-Formula One driver David Brabham in his GT1 class Ferrari 550.
"What a great way to finish off the year," Long said. "It was really fun to drive endurance Porsches in a sprint format. It's fun to go flat out, and it reminded me of formula cars racing. I'd like to thank all the guys on Infineon Team Farnbacher who prepared a perfect car, and my co-driver, Lars, who showed fine form all weekend, too."
Following the race, Long flew directly to Germany to participate in the annual Porsche factory driver fitness training camp, held at the University of Frieburg. There, the select group of eight factory Porsche drivers are put through a battery of fitness evaluation testing, as well as a grueling training regimen.
The past seven years Long has lived and raced in Europe, where he has won international events in karting, Formula Ford, Formula Renault, the German Porsche Carrera Cup, plus the GT class title at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.