When EFFORT Racing announced that it had withdrawn from the remainder of the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season, Patrick Long’s championship hopes appeared sidelined.
A win and five top-five finishes in the opening seven rounds had Long in 5th in the GT driver standings, right behind his former teammate Michael Lewis.
But when the announcement was made, the 2011 PWC champion found himself suddenly without a ride for the rest of this year’s campaign.
And that’s when the phone started ringing.
“When the news broke last week I was racing in Spa in the WEC round,” Long told Sportscar365.
“It became quickly apparent that there were a lot of people pushing for Michael Lewis and myself and for the EFFORT organization.
“Porsche is a tight-knit group of teams and relationships. It’s been inspiring to receive a lot of offers of help to try to keep both of us in this championship. It’s just tough circumstances. It was unexpected.”
The lifeline he needed to continue the championship pursuit came from Long’s longtime friend and colleague John Wright and his Wright Motorsports organization.
“John Wright is a guy that has a name synonymous with Porsche,” said Long. “He has run top endurance programs for decades with some of the legends of Porsche lineage in the U.S.
“He was the technical director at TruSpeed in 2011 when I last ran in the championship. We’ve stayed very close since then.
“I’ve been part of his organization working with his IMSA GT3 Cup team and been able to contribute to quite a few championships there.
“I think it’s one of the most underrated groups running Porsches on this continent. He’s a guy that’s very modest and very humble, but he’s a guy that has a lot of respect in the Porsche community.”
It was through his work with Wright’s IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup by Yokohama team that he came to know Michael Schein, a graduate of that program who has recorded three podium finishes in four World Challenge GTA starts for Wright this year.
Long said Schein and Wright were quick to reach out to him when they heard the news.
“This was a seriously tricky situation, and Michael and John came forward and said, ‘We’d like to keep you in this battle,'” he said
“They have a head start with Michael Schein in getting their heads around the new 911 GT3 R. They know the car, Michael has been great to watch; he’s a great guy to work with.
“It’s been a wave of emotions to lose what we had in a very special group [at EFFORT Racing] with Michael Lewis and myself running under the leadership of Erin Gahagan and Stefan Pfeiffer.
“We’re making the best out of a tough situation, and this is a very, very strong move.”
Long said he relishes the opportunity to continue competing in PWC.
“The championship is going in a great direction,” he said. “For the fans, the goal is always to keep the result of the next weekend a mystery, and we have lots of manufacturers and lots of top level drivers.
“It would have been difficult to have to watch Mosport from a distance. I’m really happy to continue forward and to be with a group that I know really well.”