Patrick Long, fresh off a win in American Le Mans Series competition at Lime Rock, Connecticut, rejoined his longtime French team IMSA Performance MATMUT to take 2nd both overall and in the GT2 class at the FIA-GT Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium. Joining the team for the fourth consecutive year, Long drove the #16 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with fellow Porsche works drivers Patrick Pilet (FR), Richard Lietz (AT) and team principal Raymond Narac (FR). The sole American Porsche works driver, Patrick is the youngest American to win all four endurance sportscar ‘classics’ – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans. Spa-Francorchamps is among the most storied race tracks on the planet, with famous and fearsome corners like La Source, Eau Rouge, Raidillon and Blanchimont. 24 Hour races have been held at Spa since 1924 and Grand Prix racing since 1925.
Porsche scored a 1-2 finish at Spa, with the #23 BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche finishing 1st in GT2 and overall. The #79 GTN-classed BMW had led for more than 22 hours of the race, but a broken steering component with 40 minutes to go erased the one-lap lead they’d held, promoting the #23 to the race lead and the #16 to its eventual 2nd place finish. Long and his teammates finished a scant 1:16.822 seconds behind the victors, roughly half of one lap of the ultra high-speed track. As always, changing weather played a major factor in the Ardenne forest, with teams responding and reacting to fog, rain and dry conditions time and again in the race.
Patrick said, “I’m thrilled with how our race went. Sure, we were just more than a minute from the overall win, but Porsche finishing 1-2 takes the sting out of it. Our car never missed a beat, and with rain, fog, and darkness we were able to steer clear of all of it as a foursome. The competition was tough, with factory Ferraris, BMWs, Audi R8s and the third factory-supported Porsche – and there were a ton of accidents, including one of the top Ferraris and one of the top Audis taking each other out. Raymond Narac was solid as usual, but every time we get to Spa – this is the fourth year in a row now – he’s that much closer to the bar that the professionals set. This weekend he was trading fastest laps with the best of our competition with all-pro lineups, which is a testament to his skill and shows how hard he’s worked at his driving.”
He continued, “There’s such a great bond among the factory drivers, and we had a great time. There were six factory drivers out of the top eight on the overall podium, so needless to say the champagne showers got a bit out of hand and there were plenty of laughs in the press conference. I’ve said it over and over: I always race for the win, but ultimately there are so many factors that go into making a 24 hour race enjoyable and deeming it a success. Racing at the front through the entire race is the most decisive factor; a well balanced car and great pit stops and strategy are icing on the cake. This weekend we checked off all the boxes at IMSA Performance MATMUT!”
Patrick will be back in action this coming weekend, August 6-7 at Mid-Ohio for round 6 of the 2010 American Le Mans Series. The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge will be broadcast in documentary form, as was the Laguna Seca round earlier in the year, on CBS Sports on Sunday August 15 at 12:30pm ET. The American Le Mans Series will present free streaming video all of qualifying and Saturday’s race on http://americanlemans.com. The full streaming schedule is as follows:
Qualifying: Friday, August 6 – 1:45pm ET – Presented by Porsche
Pre-Race and Race Action: Saturday, August 7 – 2:30pm ET – Presented by Falken Tire
– PL Motorsports