Victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona!

January 25, 2009
TRG on the podium

Photos courtesy of The Racer’s Group.

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Porsche’s sole American factory driver Patrick Long captured a long-sought win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona Sunday, driving the GT-class #67 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup Car with Jörg Bergmeister, RJ Valentine, Andy Lally and Justin Marks. The win rounds out Patrick’s career resume of “classics”, after his wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2004, 2007), 12 Hours of Sebring (2005) and Petit Le Mans (2005, 2006, 2007). Patrick and his teammates headed a dominant race for TRG; the sister #66 car finished 2nd, driven by fellow Porsche factory drivers Richard Lietz, Emmanuel Collard and Tim George Jr., Spencer Pumpelly and Ted Ballou.

Porsche clearly made a statement from the beginning, as Andy Lally traded the lead with defending race winner and 2009 polesitter Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 early in the race. After Tremblay pulled the Mazda off the track with a ruptured fuel cell in the race’s first hour, the Porsches dominated. Of the 695 laps, Porsche led all but 72 of them, and at the 24 one-hour intervals, only three times did a Porsche not lead.

It was a battle between TRG and Farnbacher Loles Racing thereafter. Dominik Farnbacher, Matthew Marsh and Kevin Roush put the No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 up front a race-high 268 laps, and during the late-night and mid-morning hours, the No. 86 and Nos. 66 and 67 TRG Porsche GT3s swapped the lead multiple times. When Roush pulled off the track — in nearly the same fashion as Farnbacher Loles Racing’s No. 87 Porsche GT3 hours earlier — during the final four hours, it gave TRG all it needed to earn the team—s first Rolex 24 victory since 2003, when Bergmeister and team owner Kevin Buckler won overall and in the GT class with Michael Schrom and Timo Bernhard.

“This was a stellar race — just an unbelievable month. Being here and driving with Jörg, my teammate and longtime friend, and TRG team owner Kevin Buckler, who gave me my first sportscar ride in America — it’s so special.” Long said. “I don’t think that the car had a nick on it. Andy and Kevin led the team, Jörg and I just did some work and Justin and RJ ran mistake free, consistent laps. It is really surreal for me. I thought this was one that was going to keep slipping through the cracks and one that I would have to chase my whole career. Having had some success early in my career and with thanks of Porsche, the Rolex 24 has slipped away from me a couple of times, so winning today makes it twice as sweet.”