Porsche Michelin Supercup Features Last Week's Le Mans GT Winner INDIANAPOLIS, June 16 -- He may be only 22 years old, but these four weeks are going to be times that Oak Park, California's Patrick Long will remember for years to come. Last ...
Porsche Michelin Supercup Features Last Week's Le Mans GT Winner
INDIANAPOLIS, June 16 -- He may be only 22 years old, but these four weeks are going to be times that Oak Park, California's Patrick Long will remember for years to come.
Last weekend, in front of more than 200,000 sports car enthusiasts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Long combined with two other Porsche factory drivers, Jorg Bergmeister and Sascha Maassen, to score the GT class victory in the Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
This weekend, Long will be a guest driver in one of the two factory-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars entered in each Porsche Michelin Superup event run in conjunction with the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Next weekend, it's off the Mid-Ohio for Round #2 of the American Le Mans Series championship in The Racer's Group Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, and July 4 weekend, he will run another ALMS race at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.
"Four races in four weeks; four new tracks -- Le Mans and Indianapolis. Wow!," said Long, who ran selected Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup events in Europe last year as a member of the UPS Porsche Junior team.
"Just participating at Le Mans is an experience every race driver should have. Everyone from the townspeople to the track officials treat the drivers like kings, and the effort the White Lightning team put in to overcome some of our mechanical problems made the win really special," he said.
Long reminds fans that the Porsche Michelin Supercup grid is loaded with drivers who have won championships throughout the world, and being a guest driver -- especially one that has just scored a major success like Le Mans -- makes him the center of attention.
"World-class drivers like David Saelens, Christian Menzel, Tim Bergmeister, Klaus Graf, Allesandro Zampedri and Patrick Huisman are not going to move out of the way for me just because I am a guest driver or just won Le Mans. I drove in several of these events last year, and it's tough to get by anyone," said Long.
Round #5 and #6 for the world's fastest single-marque international sports car series will take place with two 16-lap races on the 2.605-mile road circuit at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first race starts at 3 p.m. (EST, Indy time) Saturday, June 19, with the second race at 10:40 a.m. Sunday, June 20
The other guest driver -- also in a factory-prepared Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car -- will be Indy 500 rookie Mark Taylor, last year's Infinity Pro Series champion. This year, with a regular ride in the Indy Racing League with Panther Racing, British-born Taylor has compiled most of his driving experience in formula cars. Neither guest driver is eligible for Supercup points.
Because the GT3 Cup car is also a popular choice for American racers in the Rolex Grand-Am series as well as Porsche Club and SCCA club racing events, there are several local entries this year to challenge the European regulars. They also not eligible for points, as the point-earners are required to run the whole season.
The largest entrant in this category is The Racer's Group, Kevin Buckler's team from Sonoma, CA. Buckler has just arrived in Indianapolis from Le Mans, where his car finished in the top ten in the GT class, and he is headed to Watkins Glen where his team is competing in the Rolex Grand-Am series. His five-car team at Indy includes drivers Patrick Flanagan (#23) and Joseph Kunz (#24) both from Laguna Hills, CA, Gary Becker (#25) from Encino, CA, Jim Collier (#26) from Dallas, TX and Marc Bullock (#27) from Tulsa, OK.
Another three American guest entries take up the challenge running under their own teams: Steve Johnson (# 28) from Bristol, VA, Gary C. Pennington (# 29) from Irmo, SC, and Tim Rosengrant (#30) from Cresco, PA.
Other regulars competing this weekend include Wolf Henzler from Germany, who narrowly missed clinching the championship here a year ago and now has a big points lead having won the first four races of the season. Fellow German Klaus Graf, a former factory driver for Panoz in the American Le Mans Series and currently signed up to do several NASCAR races later this season including the Brickyard, is second in points, followed by former Alex Job Racing driver and Sebring winner Christian Menzel.
All the competitors will be driving evenly matched 2004 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, purpose-built racecars manufactured by the Porsche factory on the same assembly line as Porsche's complete line of sports cars for the consumer. The 2004 model features further improvements to driver safety and comfort as well as measures to avoid over-revving or overheating of the engine.
The six-point safety belt and racing bucket seat underwent modifications tointegrate the Head and Neck Support System (HANS), which helps prevent head and neck injuries. The safety cage features an additional cross bar as well as a transversal bar behind the seat and reinforcement to the A-pillar. Withthis, the GT3 Cup meets the current FIA safety requirements.
Thanks to a new adaptor for the seat bracket, very tall drivers now enjoyenough head room. The new rear side windows of plastic with ventilation slotsprovide good air flow through the cockpit and help reduce weight.
Three minor modifications improve operational safety of the 2004 GT3 Cup: A shift light comes on in the cockpit warning the driver when shifting revs arereached. The speed-limiter ensures that the speed limit in the pit lane is notexceeded. The water level control light warns the driver when the coolant levelis too low.
As in 2003, the six-cylinder boxer engine with 3,598 cc capacity delivers 390hp (287 kW) at 7,200 rpm. Maximum torque remains unchanged at 390 Nm (6,500 revs), with maximum revs reached at 8,000 rpm.
New for 2004 is an intake air shrouding on the engine, which prevents hot airfrom around the engine or from under the vehicle reaching the combustionchambers and causing power loss.
The continuously variable adjustable height, camber and track of the suspension with Sachs gas-pressure shock absorbers adjustable in two position as well as adjustable anti-roll bars open many possibilities for setting up the car.Through the use of carbon fiber and plastic, the weight of the 911 GT3 Cupremains at 1,160 kilos. All windows, with the exception of the windscreen,are plastic, with the rear lid and doors made of carbon fiber.
The 2004 911 GT3 Cup competes in the Porsche makes cup races as well as many other racing series. Older vehicles can - with the exception of the safety cages - be modified to 2004 specifications. Due to the great demand for the 911 GT3 Cup, Porsche built about 150 new units.
Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.