An unfortunately timed caution period in the Six Hours of The Glen and a collision in which he was blameless, at Mid-Ohio, have seen Long slip to fifth in the GTD IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship points standings, although fourth, second and eighth at Daytona, the three longest events held so far have put him atop the Michelin Endurance Cup table.
However, ahead of the fifth round of the full GTD season, Long is optimistic that Wright’s Porsche can shine at the seven-turn 1.5-mile Lime Rock Park, which has yielded him so much success over the past 16 years. Across the Rolex SportsCar Series, American Le Mans Series, (united) IMSA WTSC series – as well as the Blancpain Endurance Series, Long has acquired five wins and five other podiums, all but one coming at the wheel of a 911.
“Lime Rock is sports car racing’s version of a bullring; very tight, technical, and hard to pass on,” said the 39-year-old from Thousand Oaks, CA. “The team’s racecraft and strategy must be picture perfect.
“Car-wise, it’s a difficult one for tire life. Over the history of the track, the Porsche 911 has proven very well suited for Lime Rock with the car’s agility and light-touch attitude.
“Driving this track tests the driver’s mentality as you are often in tight quarters traffic and there is little time for a break. I like how the race rewards entrants who really put a complete race together.”
Co-driver Trent Hindman lies only 15th in points, as he missed Mid-Ohio because it was held before Long’s erstwhile fulltime partner Ryan Hardwick stood down from the team’s GTD squad to focus on the Michelin Pilot Challenge.
However, the 2019 class champion Hindman scored a second place at Lime Rock in his title-winning year and the New Jersey native is also confident of a strong outing at the track.
“[This] marks the first non-endurance event of the year for me with the 1st Phorm, Wright Motorsports Porsche,” he said. “Fortunately, it is a racetrack I know quite well since it’s the IMSA round that lands closest to home.
“Just looking at how strong Wright Motorsports has been at Lime Rock in the past and obviously Pat’s history of success here, I’d like to think we will land well towards the front of the grid.
“The opportunity to get to know this team through three major endurance races before heading into the sprint-focused portion of our year gives great confidence in what we have together.”
The schedule for the Northeast Grand Prix sees Friday featuring first practice at 11.25am, second practice at 2.45pm and qualifying at 5.15pm, and then Saturday featuring warm-up at 9.05am, and the race at 3.10pm.