Long Weekend at Mid-Ohio

August 08, 2011

Patrick Long endured a mixed weekend at Mid-Ohio, during which he spun off-course while leading the GT class of his ALMS race in a blinding, torrential downpour, but gained and then extended the championship lead in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. Racing three times – twice on Saturday – and qualifying twice, Long had one of the busiest weekends of his career at the classic American track outside Mansfield, OH.

In Saturday’s round 7 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series, Long claimed pole position despite a 148lb. “success ballast” penalty in his #45 Privacy Star Porsche, and went on to finish 2nd in the race. He looked set to make a charge for the race win, but three lengthy cautions caused the race to finish under yellow, robbing him of an opportunity to make a late pass. Nonetheless, Long overhauled erstwhile championship leader James Sofronas despite missing round 4 at Miller Motorsports Park due to an ALMS commitment.

In Saturday’s ALMS feature, Long and teammate Jörg Bergmeister started 4th on the hyper-competitive grid, and worked their way up through the field, benefitting when the two BMWs came together and spun each other out. When Long took over the controls after half-distance, he threaded his way through traffic and when rain began to fall, pitted for rain tires. With just more than 20 minutes left in the race, Long was passed by a charging Wolf Henzler in the Falken Tires Porsche, then locked up his rears in whiteout conditions and torrential rain, spinning into the gravel at the entrance to the Keyhole turn. Long was hardly alone in struggling with the rain – more than 10 cars spun on that single lap. The race was red-flagged due to the deluge and became only the third race in ALMS history to finish under red flag conditions.

In Sunday’s round 8 of the World Challenge Series, Long qualified 2nd, despite another additional 48lbs. of “success ballast” – forcing him to carry 196lbs. of additional “success” weight on top of a series-mandated 80lbs. of weight added to all Porsches in the field. Long’s horsepower deficit to the V8-powered Corvettes and extreme weight disadvantage was evident throughout the race as he was freight-trained by more powerful, lighter competitors out of turns and along straightaways. His experience and intelligence as a racer showed, however, as he kept his nose clean and watched the two leading cars take themselves out of the race on the last lap. At the end of a very long weekend, Patrick had claimed the Pirelli World Challenge championship lead on Saturday, then extended his lead on Sunday. With four races left to go in the 2011 World Challenge season, Long leads the championship by 44 points, despite missing 1 round of 8 run to date.

Patrick races next at scenic Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI on August 18-20. Live streaming will be available from 3:45-8:15 p.m. ET on August 20, on ESPN3.com.