Patrick Long voiced his displeasure to Johnny O’Connell following last-lap contact in Sunday’s Pirelli World Challenge round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that ultimately cost the Porsche factory driver the GT title.
Long, who headed into the 50-minute Sprint race with a two-point deficit to K-PAX Racing’s Alvaro Parente, held off a hard-charging Parente, but got caught out on the final restart when O’Connell slowed coming out of Turn 4.
The two cars then made contact in Turn 5, sending Long’s No.58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R off course and giving second to Parente, who claimed the GT title in dramatic fashion.
“I raced Johnny at the end of the race and I expected racing room and didn’t get it,” Long said. “For him not to be in the championship hunt and to be the deciding factor is a difficult situation.
“In every scenario there are two drivers that make a decision. There was no intention to try and battle Johnny the entire race.
“My focus was on the championship and the two times I was alongside or ahead of him, it came down to his mistakes.”
O’Connell, meanwhile, said Long never cleared him when they both went into the brake zone.
“It’s not my job to give stuff. It’s my job to win races,” O’Connell said in the post-race press conference. “I was very shocked when he started turning down. We had contact. It was unfortunate.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to win a bunch of championships for GM and I might have played that one differently if I was him.
“But Patrick is a very fast and competitive driver so I’m sure he wanted to win this one bad. But I think I wanted to win it more.”
Long ended up with a fifth place finish, ending the season 20 points behind Parente in the championship. It also cost Porsche the GT Manufacturers’ Championship.
While the incident remains under review from PWC officials, Long has tried to think of the positive, after a turbulent season for the American Porsche factory driver.
“This is why we all love this sport, it is action packed,” he said. “I am very proud of Wright Motorsports and we appreciate the support of Porsche Consulting and all of our partners.
“We will come back stronger from this. In the end there is sport and there is integrity and we walk away proud of how we handled both situations today.”