Patrick Long, driving the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, won the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Series weekend at Road America.
Second across the line at the finish was the winner of Round 4, Adderly Fong, at the wheel of the #88 Absolute Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Taking the final podium position was a determined Johnny O’Connell, piloting the #3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
Fong, in the 88 Bentley Continental GT3 led the field away from pole position after setting the fastest lap in Saturday’s race but Long, in the #58 Porsche 911 GT3 R, took the lead shortly after the start.
The 50-minute race, however, was reduced to a competitive length of a little over fifteen minutes after an incident between the two RealTime Racing Accura NSX GT3s, the #93 car driven by Peter Kox and the #43 entry piloted by Ryan Eversley, and Jon Fogarty in the #99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
High-speed contact was made on the run to Turn 5 and the resulting recovery meant that the field ran behind the Safety Car before the race was red-flagged with 34 minutes left to run.
After the re-start the top three positions remained unchanged on the run to the chequered flag with Fong in the #88 car holding a gap of less than half a second behind Long in the leading #58 entry.
Following the race, Patrick Long explained how competitive he is finding the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge.
“These PWC weekends, it’s so close between all the manufacturers so you have to seize track position by getting a qualifying lap in that first race which is unique in this championship,” said Long. “Then every single lap there wasn’t a millimetre of road left to try to stay ahead of Adderly since he was on his game all weekend.”
“I think he had the car to beat,” continued Long. “Sometimes it’s the scenario that gives you that rewarding feeling over a weekend and certainly I think we squeezed a little bit extra out of the car. That’s how we’re going to try to put a championship together. Michael (Cooper) and Johnny (O’Connell) were strong all weekend and it could have gone Michael’s way just as easily for points.”
Second-placed Adderly Fong was quick to praise Long for his race-craft.
“Patrick had an excellent run at the start and managed to hold the outside line,” said Fong. “We gave each other some racing room, and we got through cleanly in the first corner. Patrick kept his laps really clean and I just couldn’t find any opportunity to get close.”
“Ultimately at the end, we just pushed 100% because we had a lot of tyre left. I saw I was a little bit quicker in the kink so I thought I had a chance at Canada Corner but I wasn’t close enough and Patrick pushed his car perfectly every time. So congratulations to him”
Long’s win means that he now holds a 17-point advantage over Alvaro Parente in the Sprint GT Drivers Championship standings.
The AM class saw a repeat of the top three positions from Round 4. James Sofronas in the #15 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R claimed his second victory of the weekend with the Magnus Racing Audi RS 8 LMS piloted by John Potter in second place. Tim Pappas in the #54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 rounded up the top three in the Am class.
“The Porsche 911 GT3 R was running great,” said Sofronas. “It wasn’t actually as good as yesterday but you have to pick your battles. I saw (Michael) Schein go out which is a bummer. I feel bad for him but then I decided to just back it down, get the points and just save the car. At this point it’s about a GTA Sprint point championship and trying to do the best we can.”
Taking the chequered flag in the GT Cup class was the #11 Precision Driving Ferrari Challenge Evo driven by Marko Radisic followed by the #55 Dream racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo with Yuki Harata at the wheel.
The Pirelli World Challenge travels to Mid-Ohio next, from July 28 to 30 for Rounds 6 and 7 for the GT and GTA classes and Rounds 5 and 6 for the GT Cup cars.
Photo courtesy of PWC