The race on the street circuit in Long Beach marks another highlight on the American Le Mans Series calendar. Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) tackle the prestigious Californian city race on 16 April with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. Last year, the pair won the GT class for the second time straight. Wolf Henzler (Germany) competes for the Falken Tire squad as the third Porsche factory driver.
The Porsche drivers
Last year’s victors, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long, are back to contest the GT class in Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Their factory pilot colleague Wolf Henzler shares driving duties in the Falken Tire 911 GT3 RSR with Bryan Sellers (USA). Darren Law and Seth Neiman join forces in the second 911 GT3 RSR fielded by Flying Lizard Motorsports. The Paul Miller Racing team also run a 911 GT3 RSR with Bryce Miller (USA) as one of their drivers. In the GTC class, double Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands) teams up with Tim Pappas (USA) to compete for Black Swan Racing at the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Comments leading up to the race
Hartmut Kristen, Porsche Head of Motorsport:
“Long Beach particularly suits Patrick Long. He has proven this many times in the past. As we saw at the season-opener in Sebring, the competition in the GT class is even stronger this season. We’ve taken a very close look at the data from the race and have drawn our conclusions. Even IMSA, as the governing body of the American Le Mans Series, has realised that a regulations had led to an imbalance between vehicles. So I think spectators will witness an extremely exciting race in Long Beach.”
“A street circuit like Long Beach has its very own set of rules. You have no time for a breather, you’re constantly steering, shifting gears, braking. There are no long straights to relax. You’re driving non-stop at the limit. In principle, Long Beach has always suited out car in the past. We enjoyed a certain grip advantage in the corners. But we’ll just have to wait and see what this year brings.”
“One of the secrets to success in Long Beach is grabbing a decent position on the grid. It’s extremely hard to overtake on this narrow circuit. In fact, there is just one place where it works, but even then you need luck. It’s also very important not to lose too much time during the regular pit stops. In the pits, such races are won… and lost. All in all, Long Beach is a highly fascinating event.”
“I really enjoy street races. Last year in Long Beach we were leading but lost the race in the pits. Basically, you have to drive with extreme precision. There is no room for the slightest error and there are no run-off areas. If you don’t watch out you’ll end up in the wall. I like city circuits for practical reasons: The hotels are right next to the track and when you want to go out for dinner there are real restaurants and not just fast food places.”