Patrick Long, driving the No. 45 PrivacyStar Porsche, sealed the 2011 GT Driver's Championship in the Pirelli World Challenge today at Laguna Seca, claiming the title in his first full season in the Series and delivering TruSpeed Motorsports its first championship.
Despite missing the round at Miller Motorsports Park earlier in the year due to a schedule conflict, Long wrapped up his title at the penultimate round of the season at a track which he's mastered over the years. Long, who was forced to carry an extra 200lbs of “success” ballast stemming from his four prior wins and consistent top-five results, qualified sixth on Saturday and drove a consistent and conservative race to finished fifth on Sunday. Long's closest competitor in the championship, James Sofronas, spun out with only two minutes left in the race, leaving Patrick a clear path to the title on the last lap.
Tomy Drissi, driving the No. 47 The Sitter / TruSpeed Porsche, emerged unscathed from a frightening high-speed off in the ultra-fast Turn 4, as he spun and hit the wall hard. While the car will be a total write-off, Tomy walked away from the crash and will drive again at the Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Road Atlanta from Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
Rob Morgan, driving the No. 46 Entrust/TruSpeed Porsche, ran a strong race and finished sixth. Of Morgan, Team Manager Tyler Tadevic said, “Rob and his crew chief John did a huge amount of work for the team this weekend. They initially struggled on setup during the promoter test day on Thursday, so they ended up going in a pretty drastic direction that ended up yielding a great baseline setup for all three of our cars this weekend. Given where we were with Patrick's championship status, we couldn't afford to be anything other than conservative with his car in testing and practice, and the work that Rob and John did really helped get all of our team cars up to speed. In the race, Rob had one of the fastest cars on track, and did a great job in what was a pretty hectic race today.”
Tadevic continued, “It goes without saying that we're immensely proud of Patrick, but we're also proud as a team. We've grown a huge amount this year, and we've had Patrick setting an example as the consummate professional. We brought him in with the explicit goal of winning the championship in the No. 45 PrivacyStar Porsche, and he's done exactly that. We're super happy with the season, super happy with the result, and very proud of what Patrick and the team have been able to accomplish.”
Patrick said, “It's definitely exciting to win a championship in a completely different format and series than I'm used to. If you look back at our season, we were pretty close to a model of consistency. What won us the championship was consistent performance, and that's down to the guys in the team working unbelievably hard at the shop and at the track. It's been a very enjoyable season for me, and it's been nothing but hard racing at a big variety of venues. The style of racing – the sprint format and standing starts – has been different and I've had to become familiar with a bunch of new drivers.”
“It's been great to have Rob and Tyler to bounce ideas off of, and I have to thank Rob and Charles Morgan, PrivacyStar and Entrust for the chance this season. It's a cool way to lock up the championship with one race to go, so we can go to Road Atlanta without pressure. We'll still give it our all, but tonight we'll celebrate a little.”