Disappointment at Le Mans for Long

June 17, 2012

Patrick Long, driving the #80 Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3RSR, was dogged with bad luck from the start of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans. Long’s teammate Jörg Bergmeister started seventh on the GTE Pro grid, and by the one-hour mark, after working through early-race tire pressure issues, he had moved to up to sixth in class. He was settling into his race pace when he had an off-course excursion into the gravel trap at Indianapolis. He was quickly pulled out and back underway, but pitted immediately for the crew to look over the car and a driver change to Patrick Long.

Twenty minutes later, a damper came apart which sent Long limping slowly around the track back to the pits. (The damper was most likely the reason for Bergmeister’s earlier off.) The crew quickly replaced the damper but the garage stop cost the car several laps to the GTE Pro leader. Long headed out again, now in ninth position. Near the three-hour mark, halfway through his double stint, a tire puncture sent him back into the pits for a replacement left rear tire. At hour four, he turned the wheel over to Marco Holzer. Thirty minutes into his stint, Holzer returned to the pits for the crew to replace another damper, then just past the five-hour mark, Holzer pitted again to change a third. The #80 returned to the race in P9, 10 laps down on the GTE Pro leader. Bergmeister then took the wheel for his stint, and turned the #80 over to Patrick Long around midnight, still in P9.

Just after midnight, Long hit heavy gravel on track in the first chicane. The debris was from another car, which had just spun into the gravel trap, then drove across the track and covered it with gravel. Long hit the gravel, spun and impacted the tire wall. He was fine, but the car sustained heavy damage and he was unable to drive it safely back to the garage and the car was retired.