Patrick Long lines up at the head of the GT category in Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for his first outing at Le Mans. The young American driver, who finished fifth in the 2004 Daytona 24 hours and has won in...
Patrick Long lines up at the head of the GT category in Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for his first outing at Le Mans. The young American driver, who finished fifth in the 2004 Daytona 24 hours and has won in the German Porsche Cup and Formula Renault UK, took time out from his busy schedule before the start of qualifying on Thursday to talk exclusively to Motorsport.com about his Le Mans experience so far and expectations for the race.
"I have less than twenty laps in my whole career here so I chose to keep an eye in the background, do my three laps for qualifying and really let these guys find a smooth consistent set-up so that I can get in the car and have no doubts on what the car is doing and not have to question 'is it the car or is it me?' because I'm still at a point where I'm going around and I'm learning and trying different things so that makes it difficult to develop the car at the same time."
The car was involved in an incident late in the second part of Wednesday's qualifying and spun through at the gravel trap at the hands of Sasha Maasen, who is participating in his fourth 24 hour race at Le Mans. "That was a quick trip through the gravel," Patrick explained. "Everything is cleaned up and fine. There was no damage. It was a bias issue - we were figuring how to get the most out of the brakes and Sascha, being the most experienced driver, was the one willing to take the risks so it's good that he was able to keep it in one piece and find the limit."
"There's always the potential but no. The straights are so much longer, the Audis are so much more of a race car than the Daytona prototype, so I think the gaps will remain as far away as they are in the dry, but I also would like to think I could get to the point where I was in Daytona of challenging for victory as far as lap time go and being consistent and smart.
"Daytona helped me on a confidence level. I know I can do a 24 hour race. I know I can run a car consistantly through the night. I know now that I can go to sleep, wake up and still perform because things like that area big apprehensions before you go into your first 24 hour race. A lot of that is laid to rest."
The full interview with Patrick Long, covering his career so far and aspirations for the future, will be published next week.