After narrowly missing out on a podium finish last month at the Nürburgring, Dempsey Proton Racing’s Patrick Long is upbeat on their chances on home soil in today’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
Long and co-drivers Patrick Dempsey and Marco Seefried will start from the GTE-Am class pole in the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The American Porsche factory driver, who has embarked on his first full-season of the globe-trotting championship, has been impressed by the level of progress made since the start of the year.
“It’s easy to be left in the dust of some of the big headlines, but it’s astonishing where we started at Silverstone,” Long told Sportscar365.
“We weren’t even in the race at Silverstone and then we felt the back of the pack at Spa. Then Le Mans was a dream result.
“From there it was like, ‘OK let’s keep pushing, let’s not rest on our laurels but let’s be realistic. It’s going to be a lot more difficult to podium in a short race, for all of the obvious reasons.”
A near certain GTE-Am class podium finish in last month’s Six Hours of Nürburgring was thwarted by an additional pit stop to replace the passenger side’s window, which is mandatory per regulations.
“Obviously in this type of racing, it’s very difficult to recover from a minute [extra] in the pits,” Long said. But still it was a tremendous result.
“Internally, we still know where we were and we’re still that happy about it, even though we didn’t have a result to show for.”
While having settled for a fourth place result in Germany, Long feels confident heading into today’s race, a track both he and the actor/racer have critical experience at.
“We’ve made good strides with the car since Nürburgring,” he said. “We went in a different direction on the setup which is not as conventional as some might want their cars to be.
“It’s working. It’s not an easier car to drive, so there’s more credit to Patrick [Dempsey] for what he’s done and where he’s brought his game forward.
“Marco always gets the last of the cake on the table. That guy gets fewer laps than anybody in this race weekend and he’s alway rock solid and always on pace.
“It makes it easy to go to work in the morning when you’re feeling constant progression. Right now we’re continuing to find more and more pace.”
Could another podium finish be on the cards, following the trio’s runner-up run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, or perhaps even an elusive first class win in front of the home crowd?
Despite their strong start to the weekend, Long has kept their expectations in check.
“Our post-Le Mans goal is to get another podium,” he said. “Of course if we get a podium we’re going to want another one or a win.
“I think our chances are good here. There’s a lot of unknown of racing into the night. None of us have driven here in the dark and a lot of people say there’s some questionable lighting.
“It’s the same for everybody. It’s one of the safest tracks in North America so we’ll just roll the dice and see how it goes.
“A podium at home would be tremendous but we look at all of these the same. It’s all part of the schedule. And we’re in the points chance.”