Sebring 12 Hours
6th Place at 12 Hours of Sebring March 20, 2011
Patrick Long endured an up-and-down race at the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing 6th in the ultra-competitive GT class. Along with teammates Jörg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb, the #045 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR would finish behind the two BMW M3s and two Corvette C6.Rs. Despite the 6th place finish, Long was able to salvage 5th place points, as one of the cars which finished ahead of the #045 is not entered in the full American Le Mans Series for 2011.
In his first stint, Long was able to work up to P3 in class, passing the number 04 Corvette on a restart. At the end of that same lap, Long and Jan Magnussen, driver of the #04, came together in turn 17, spinning off track. Long's car was not damaged, but he did have to serve a 60-second penalty for avoidable damage. The team was able to regain the lap lost with clever pit strategy, but later electrical issues, caused by a water leak from the cool suit system, slowed the #45's progress in the race.
Long said, "We had a day where a couple of instances took us out of the running, but true to form, the Lizard team kept their wits about them and we soldiered on to put 5th place points on the board. At Sebring, where extra points are awarded, we couldn't afford to DNF, so we achieved our first goal, which was gaining reasonable points for the championship. The mood was difficult at the end of the race because we hadn't factored in with our outright pace as we had done in previous years - the potential in the car wasn't quite where we'd hoped to be. That said, we have to put our heads down and just push forward. It's going to be a tough, competitive year from the looks of things."
He continued, "With the incident with Jan Magnussen in the 04 Corvette, we talked as soon as we saw one another and before I even gave him my take on it, he knew what had happened. There are a few different lines through Turn 17 at Sebring, and each one of them has so many different bumps and obstacles. I was running closer to the middle of the line than normal, and he was running wider - I hit a massive bump and with the lateral g-forces through that turn, I got all four wheels off the ground and my car turned right into him. Before I knew what was happening, I was into him and spinning, and we lost some time when I served a penalty for avoidable contact. All in all, a tough Sebring 12 Hours, but it's a long season and there's a lot to look forward to."
The American Le Mans Series next races on the streets of Long Beach, California, April 15-16, 2011.