Patrick Long has praised the strength of the Porsche 911 GT3 R after completing nearly the entire race on a broken left-rear shock.
Long and Wright Motorsports co-drivers Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen claimed a breakthrough GT Daytona class victory in the around-the-clock enduro, Hardwick and Heylen’s first in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition.
It came after battling an ill-handling car from the onset when Bronze-rated Hardwick was behind the wheel.
“I felt like we had a car that could fight for the victory all day long even though we had a left-rear shock that failed,” Long explained post-race.
“It was a difficult car to hold onto. I have a pretty bad headache after sort of a ‘bucket bronco’ ride for about seven hours.
“Ryan did a tremendous triple stint. I jumped in and assessed it.
“I thought I knew what it was and on the next yellow we pulled the left-rear wheel off and inspected it.
“We understood what the implications would be for a shock change and decided we had enough pace, even with that.
“We went for it but it wasn’t easy. The car would start pourposing, especially in the high-speed corners.
“You never really knew where it was going to end, especially at the exit of Turn 17.”
The issue was ironically “deja vu” for the American Porsche factory driver, who claimed GT2 class honors in the 2005 running of the Sebring race in a Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3-RSR that had a front shock failure.
“It was difficult to fight because you really didn’t know where the car was going to land and we didn’t want to take anybody out,” Long said.
“It was a tricky day for sure but it’s a tremendous testament though because literally everything on that left-rear was compressed and shaken to bits.
“These cars are built tough. I love that the Porsche people said, ‘Oh yeah, you’ll be fine.’
“The axles were taken a beating because there was a lot of wheel spin because the car would start bouncing and the rear wheels would loose contact with the road and try to hook back up.
“Regardless of a little bit of challenge, I’m still really proud that the car held together.”
“Tremendous Victory” for Team After Season of Consistency
Long described the final restart where he jumped from third to first after a collision in front of him that ultimately took both the GT Le Mans and GTD class leaders out of the running.
“It was a spectacle in itself as we came out of Turn 1 and Lawson [Aschenbach] in the Merc had a tremendous pace,” he said. “It seemed like he was going to go through, come hell or high water.
“Unfortunately he took a GTLM car with him and it opened the door for us.
“From there it was just about battling the Aston. He actually passed me on the back straight away and I managed to cut underneath him in Turn 17.
“Once I got into clear air, I set sail and tried to push absolute qualifying laps in.”
While ending up two points short of the class championship, which went to Meyer Shank Racing’s Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry, Long took in the positives from the day.
“It’s a tremendous victory for the whole team,” he said.
“It’s been a long season of consistency and it feels like the monkey off our back to finally get a victory in what I believe is the biggest race of the year.”