Patrick Long – Le Mans race report

May 16, 2009

Photo © Rick Dole.

Patrick Long, driving the #76 IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, ran in the lead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the top three for the bulk of this year’s race, but ultimately retired with gearbox trouble in hour 21. After taking the lead in a thrilling first hour of the race, Long and his teammates Patrick Pilet (FR) and Raymond Narac (FR) ran with only minor issues through the majority of the race, staying comfortably in the top four until their retirement. In the race’s opening stint, Long led a tightly bunched group of the GT2 contenders, including friends and fellow Porsche factory drivers Marc Lieb in the Felbermayr Porsche, regular ALMS teammate Jörg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Porsche, and Risi Ferrari’s Jamie Melo.

Patrick said, “fter the rainout of our practice on Wednesday, we used Thursday’s qualifying sessions to simulate race conditions, tune the car and find our race setup, and get my Le Mans rookie teammate Patrick Pilet up to speed. The race went according to plan in the beginning — we were able to move into the lead in the first hour, and I had a fierce battle with my friends Marc Lieb and Jörg and the Risi Ferrari of Jamie Melo. I was able to lead through my double stint, and all three of us were extremely happy with the car. We then traded the lead and ran in the top three all the way until the final hours of the race, when we lost the gearbox and recorded a DNF.”

He continued, “The whole Le Mans experience this year was very positive — every time I got out of the car I had a smile on my face. The wicked fight that the four of us had at the beginning of the race was just a lot of fun, and the IMSA Performance team hit every one of their marks. We had a couple of small issues which put us in the garage for a spell, but we managed to stay in the top three. My teammate Patrick got hit by Sebastien Bourdais in what was the overall lead Peugot which sent us in for a tire change, but that was about all the major drama. I’ve learned through my experience that in 24 hour races you rarely go trouble free, but the times that you do tend to be podium finishes and usually, wins.”

“The RSR was the right car to have at Le Mans this year on pace, but unfortunately attrition got in Porsche’s way. We were faster than the Ferraris though, which bodes well for the rest of the ALMS season — we’ve got a great car underneath us. The Lizards do great as a team, but getting in another team’s RSR and immediately having good race pace shows me that overall, the RSR’s pace is very strong in relation to the Ferraris.”

Patrick kept a race blog during the 24 at his normal Porsche Club of America page, at: