After years of trying, Patrick Long will finally get his chance to experience the famed Mount Panorama circuit, as the Porsche factory driver has been confirmed for next month’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
Sportscar365 has learned that the three-time ALMS champion will join David Calvert-Jones and V8 Supercars ace Alex Davison behind the wheel of a Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car entered by Competition Motorsports for the rapidly growing Australian endurance race.
It will mark both Australian-born Calvert-Jones, who goes by “CJ” for short, and Alex Davison’s second start together in the race, having teamed with cousin James Davison last year after Long was unable to commit due to his commitments with Porsche.
“The race and the track speaks for itself but I’ve not had the opportunity because of date clashes to make it the last two years,” Long told Sportscar365. “That’s been sort of frustrating.
“Our [Porsche] fitness camp was moved this year from its traditional mid-February date to mid-January and that opened up the opportunity.”
Having forged a friendship with Calvert-Jones, a helicopter stunt movie pilot by trade, through his recent racing efforts in the ALMS and IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge series, Long managed to confirm his availably just last week.
“It’s going to be great to have Patrick,” Calvert-Jones said. “We’ve known each other for a while and he’s always talked about Bathurst and how desperately he wants to get down there and race that track because it’s pretty famous.
“From driving myself last year, I can see why everyone raves about it. It’s an amazing experience.”
Last year, CJ and the Davisons enjoyed a strong run on the Mountain, having started from the Class B pole but being forced to retire in the ninth hour after contact with a Holden Astra touring car.
CJ has assembled the same crew to run his ex-Green Hornet Porsche again, with Australian Cup outfit McElrea Racing providing trackside support for the American entry as they chase top honors in the competitive class.
“I now know the track. We know the team. Bob Faieta from Competition Motorsports has set the car up knowing what needs to be done for Bathurst. I think all around, it’s going to be a more polished team,” Calvert-Jones said.
“Bringing Patrick in it is going to be that extra level of professionalism and raw speed. A guy like Patrick that has come out of countless Le Mans wins, he knows how to get it done in an endurance race.”
Long says he’s up for the challenge and hopes his Bathurst debut could lead to a possible drive in the V8 Supercar endurance races in the future.
“Everything that I hear, obviously the race is spectacular,” he said of Mount Panorama. “The track is spectacular. Australian motorsport, we all know, is awesome.
“But I think we all know the track is fast and the walls are close. Some people say it’s a lot like the Nordschliefe. Some people say it’s a lot like a street course on steroids. I don’t know what to expect.
“I did my first two laps on iRacing [last week] and I loved it. What I couldn’t believe was coming across the mountain as it descended and just how quickly you’re going as it descends. I’m looking forward to it.”