Following a runner-up finish in class last year, Patrick Long and IceBreak Competition Motorsports are gearing up for a return to Mount Panorama, but this time fighting for overall honors in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
The Australian/American operation, led by IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge USA driver David Calvert-Jones, will tackle the Mountain with a Porsche 911 GT3-R, with Calvert-Jones and Porsche factory driver Long being joined by V8 Supercars Dunlop Series ace Chris Pither
All three drivers recently took part in a shakedown of the FIA GT3-spec beast at Buttonwillow, prior to the car being air-freighted to Australia in final preparation for the around-the-clock enduro.
“It’s interesting jumping back into a GT3 car after spending most of my time in a Cup car or an RSR over the last 12 months,” Long told Sportscar365. “They are rocket ships, with great downforce. ABS is the way to go for pro-am racing, in my opinion.
“The shakedown was pretty straightforward. It was about getting CJ some laps as it was his first time in a GT3-R, as well as get Chris some laps in a 911.
“I did a very few amount of laps. The car was in balance and the team was on point. It was really just integrating Stefan Pfeiffer, who will race engineer for us. I won all three of my ALMS championships under him with two different teams. He’s just a great guy.”
After two previous attempts in Class B with a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car, the effort, run again in association with McElrea Racing, sees a step up to Class A with an ex-Porsche AG test car.
The car was most recently campaigned in last year’s Nürburgring 24 by Manthey Racing with an all-factory driver lineup.
While competing alongside some of the world’s top GT3 efforts, including factory Bentleys and works-supported Audi and Mercedes, Long is excited for the challenge ahead as the trio go for overall honors.
“I’m just excited to get down there,” he said. “We know from BoP and the results last year that we’re probably not favorited by any stretch. But it’s a long race and it’s a hell of a weekend to be involved. I’m just excited regardless.
“Factoring in and going after overall is a step in the right direction. My expectations are reasonable. But just going to the Mountain and having ABS and a little bit more downforce is going to make my job a little bit easier.
“But the competition and the depth of the class will be astronomically higher than we had in the last couple of years.”