The TruSpeed Motorsports duo of Patrick Long and Rob Morgan finished a strong 5th and 6th today at round three of the 2011 Pirelli World Challenge. Long, driver of the #45 PrivacyStar Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, set a lap record in claiming his second pole position of the season with a 1:21.729, good for an 86.686 mph average speed. Morgan, driver of the #46 Entrust / TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, qualified 8th with a time of 1:22.986. The famed Long Beach Grand Prix circuit snakes around the streets of downtown Long Beach, and features a straightaway where cars touch 160mph, a very narrow course, two tight hairpins and foreboding walls.
At the start, pole-sitter Long was passed by three cars on the long run down to turn one, but as the leaders picked up the back of the pack within several laps, he was able to gain position. Unfortunately, he was called into the pits to serve a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start, though he gained no advantage from his mistake at the drop of the green flag. After he served his penalty, Patrick found himself at the back of the pack at 16th in the GT class, and charged through three classes of traffic to claim 5th place by the end of the race. Despite a 127lb. “success ballast”, which he earned with his two wins at St. Petersburg, Long was still able to claim fastest lap of the race.
He said, “The World Challenge race was pretty difficult. At the starting line, my dash display showed that I was in neutral when I put it in gear. That’s dangerous in a standing start, because if you can’t get your car in gear, you risk causing a massive pile-up as the field accelerates towards you, so I slowly released the clutch to make sure first gear engaged. Unfortunately, that’s outside the rules, and it was lesson learned the hard way for me. After my penalty, I came out 12th in class, but was able to use traffic to close the gaps and regain positions. It was a very rare race, because there were no caution periods, so that hurt us a bit, but the car was handling excellent, and very consistent. I’d have thought we could have won, which is frustrating. The good news is, despite missing the next round at Miller, we get some weight removed from the car, and I still believe I can win the championship. The TruSpeed guys have put a great car under me.”
Morgan, driving the #46 Entrust / TruSpeed Porsche, had a relatively uneventful race, which he started from 8th position, between the two factory Cadillacs of Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim. Rob kept his nose clean for the entirety of the race, lapping between the two Cadillacs until late in the race. As the heavier Cadillac of Johnny O’Connell burned its tires off through the race, Morgan was able to pass the 3-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner for 5th place, then proceeded to gap the two GM cars for the duration. He went on to finish 6th, and carries good momentum into the next round at Miller Motorsports Park.
“It’s always fun to cap off the frenzy of activity at Long Beach with a good result,” commented Morgan. “It’s a hectic rush and it’s always crowded – both off-track and on – but it’s a wonderful event and great to race so close to home. For me, it was satisfying to battle with Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim, and even more satisfying to beat both of them. We’re excited to get to Miller, where we’ve got some more track time, and we’re predicting a great race. Porsches seem to suit that track, though the higher horsepower Vipers, Corvettes and Mustangs will be strong on the long straights there.”
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