Patrick Long believes that he and co-driver Ryan Hardwick are ‘playing to the strengths’ of their Porsche 911 GT3 R in what’s become a highly competitive fight for the GT Daytona class title.
The Wright Motorsports duo head into this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round fifth in the championship standings following a season-best third place finish at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
While 16 points behind championship leaders Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry, Long and Hardwick are only four points within second-place runner Aaron Telitz, who will rejoin Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 this weekend.
Long believes their strength comes with the pace of the Porsche over a full stint.
“We can’t get near the Lexus or even the Acura over a big lap but when it comes to the whole stint, we feel like we can run with these guys,” said Long. “We have to play to those strengths.
“The progression of this class right now is unbelievable. The efforts that are upfront are are as tough of an entrant and driver pairing that I’ve faced in the couple of decades I’ve been in IMSA.
“I love that there’s ten cars that can win any given weekend in GTD.
“Mario [Farnbacher] is doing things with that Shank car that I haven’t seen in a while so they’re going to be really, really tough as always.
“Then the AIM guys are in and out of form but have really strong driver lineups and when the track fits them, they’re hard to compete with.
“We’re just going keep doing our thing, keeping an eye on our competition.”
The Porsche factory driver believes that a breakthrough win for the program could be around the corner if they play their cards right.
“It’s just to keep doing what we’re doing,” Long said. “We’re racing every single weekend as a single race and driving inside the championship effort.
“What that means is aiming for the podium every single time and not slipping up and not taking those un-needed risks or making mistakes.
“IMSA is a tough series so usually everyone has a blunder here or there and so far I think we’ve made perfect execution on what we’ve had available to us from a pace-standpoint.
“Some of the cars up front are making more aggressive strategy calls so that’s something we’ll probably have to be doing if we want to put ourselves in a position to win one of these coming to the end.”
Hardwick: “There’s Momentum On Our Side”
Hardwick, who is taking part in his first full WeatherTech Championship season after an ACL injury forced him out of Paul Miller Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo mid-season last year, said it’s taken him some time to get up to speed with his new surroundings.
“The last two rounds I personally have really started to get my mind wrapped around the Porsche,” said the Bronze-rated driver.
“I had a really strong run at VIR, a track that I really enjoyed have a lot of experience at and was able to run up there with the the guys at the sharp end of the field, with the the Silver drivers there and had a two good stint before passing off to Pat.
“We had a solid team effort at Road Atlanta for the six-hour. Our car was super good. The three divers — Jan Heylen coming in was an absolute monster — Pat was great as always, and I’m starting to get real comfortable.
“I feel there’s a lot of momentum with our team right now. The team is working really well together.
“Pat and I work together really well in terms of communication with the car and the setup.
“I think we’ve got as good of a shot as anyone. I really like the position we’re in, battling for the top-three in class and championship points. I think we’re going to be there until the very end for sure.”