Long: Second Straight Laguna Win; Dramatic Nose-to-Tail Battle Into Darkness Flying Lizard Motorsports scored another dramatic GT victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Patrick Long winning in class by 0.365 seconds with JÃ¶rg Bergmeister...
Long: Second Straight Laguna Win; Dramatic Nose-to-Tail Battle Into Darkness
Flying Lizard Motorsports scored another dramatic GT victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Patrick Long winning in class by 0.365 seconds with Jörg Bergmeister over BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team's Joey Hand. Long passed Hand's BMW M3 GT on the inside of Turn 11 just as the green flag flew on the final restart with eight minutes left. The race had been a knock-down, drag-out fight for its entire 6 hour duration, with eight different cars leading at one time or another - three Ferraris, two Corvettes, two BMWs and Long's #45 Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Long took advantage of the final restart of the race - with three laps remaining - to make it two in a row for himself and teammate Jörg Bergmeister.
Long, Joey Hand in the #90 BMW and Ollie Gavin in the #4 Corvette all led in the final hour of the race, swapping the lead back and forth in classic nose-to-tail fashion. During the final round of pitstops, the #90 BMW stopped early for fuel, the #4 Corvette changed tires, and the #45 Flying Lizard stopped for a splash of fuel just prior to the final yellow flag. Having assumed the lead in the caution period, the #90 BMW wasn't able to hold off Long for more than a lap, as Patrick passed at the drop of the green flag at the exit of turn 11. Long and Hand then had an intense three-lap sprint to the finish; the final margin was .40 of a second after six hours of racing.
Long and Bergmeister assumed the championship lead - which they won in 2009 in a memorable last-lap battle at Laguna Seca between Jörg and Corvette Racing's Jan Magnussen - heading into the ALMS' traditional break for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Patrick said, "At the end, I was racing against Joey (Hand) in the BMW. We've been competing for more than 15 years - all the way back to our karting days - and I knew he would fight me to the end. During the yellow, the team had to make a decision - would we go for the safe finish and points or for the win, but in the end, we got both. After the last restart, heading into Turn 11, Joey left me three-quarters of a car width, then we went 3 wide into 11. I edged past and then it was about running and I was able to hold on to take the win. We came from P8 and worked our way through a very competitive field."
Long added, "The win was that much sweeter since it was at our home track with our sponsors and families cheering us on. It's pretty early in the year for everyone to be racing at this level of intensity, but I think that just points to what the rest of the season is going to be about. Today was, by far, the most memorable race of my career. It was not only what happened in the last few minutes but the entire race, fighting the BMWs, the Corvettes, the Ferraris- it was healthy, hard racing and a lot of fun."