Victory at Last! Long Wins Round 4 of the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Zetec Series Â Â Â Â Â OULTON PARK, Cheshire, U.K. -- Young southern Californian Patrick Long started second, took the lead on lap two, and then led all the way to ...
Victory at Last! Long Wins Round 4 of the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Zetec Series
OULTON PARK, Cheshire, U.K. -- Young southern Californian Patrick Long started second, took the lead on lap two, and then led all the way to the checkered flag, winning the fourth round of the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Zetec Championship at Oulton Park today -- the first win for an American driver in the prestigious series since 1996.
Quick in Oulton's pre-race testing, Long, 19, qualified his works Van Diemen second, only 0.075 seconds behind teammate Robin Rudholm of Sweden. In the race, though, Long slipped by Rudholm in the first turn of the second lap. An accident brought out the safety car on lap three, but Long blitzed the restart and opened up a 1.5-second gap. On lap four, Long ran over a kerb and slightly bent a front suspension wishbone, causing a slight understeer. Undeterred, he kept his composure and drove conservatively yet quickly to keep his tires from overheating. Long led another Swede, Robert Dahlgren across the finish line by 0.18 seconds.
"It felt so good to be in the lead," explained Long. "I knew I had the speed all season from testing and qualifying results, and it was disappointing not to have won a race earlier. But now the monkey is off my back. My confidence is as high as it's ever been in Formula Ford. I'm looking forward to winning more races and challenging for the championship."
In the season's first three races, Long demonstrated his potential, but a variety of factors resulted in three disappointing finishes: At the Silverstone opener, he finished sixth while fighting for second place and being pushed on to the grass after qualifying third; at Snetterton, a dry-then-wet qualifying session resulted in a fifteenth starting position and a ninth place finish after charging through the field in a shortened 4 lap race; and at Donington Park, he qualified second, but was punted off the road while challenging for the lead. Driving for the Van Diemen works team, Long entered the 2001 season as a favorite in the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Zetec Championship, acknowledged as the most competitive junior series in the world. Last year in the Zetec series he scored eight Top-10 finishes in 14 starts, plus earned a Winter Series ride with Van Diemen. He won one race (Snetterton), secured two pole positions, and was consistently quick in testing and practice.
The championship chase continues on May 27-28 at Croft. For more information on Patrick Long, visit his website at: http://www.patricklong.com/. And to follow the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Zetec Championship, log on to http://www.powertour.co.uk/.