The American Le Mans Series visit to the famous street circuit in Long Beach/California is one of the highlights of the season. At the time-honoured race with the postcard-perfect backdrop of sun, sea and palms, the Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) aim to clinch their second win of the season in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The toughest rivals for the current points’ leaders of the championship (GT2 class) come from the same stable: Wolf Henzler and Dirk Werner from Germany, who share driving duties for the shortest race of the season (100 minutes) in the 911 GT3 RSR of Farnbacher Loles Racing, took up the races in both Sebring and in St. Petersburg from the first row, but were not able to turn their excellent starting positions into a top result in the race. This situation should now change. “We race to win the title,” says Wolf Henzler, who is reigning champion with Joerg Bergmeister. “Even if we’ve experienced bad luck twice now, we’re not about to give up. We will keep fighting.”
The street circuit at the harbour of Long Beach, where the pits are just a stone’s throw away from where the docked ocean-liner giant “Queen Mary” lies anchored, is also a very special challenge for Wolf Henzler. “You can only win this race if you don’t make one mistake and the pit stop runs perfectly,” says the Porsche factory driver. “As refuelling takes a very short time, we have to change drivers very quickly. If our tight schedule allows it we’ll put in some more practice at Long Beach.”
On the narrow track edged by walls and fences overtaking is very difficult – making a good grid position essential. Still, in the fight for pole position, where cautiousness is needed with the tyres, clever tactics are also important. “We have to wait to see how the track is,” says Joerg Bergmeister. “When there’s a lot of rubber on the track we can drive somewhat more aggressively. With little grip we have more tyre wear and therefore must be a bit more careful.”
For their victory in St. Petersberg, Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Long chose harder tyres compared to most of their opponents and as a result could hold off coming in to the pits until the Safety Car Phase. The subsequent time saving was a key to their success. Still, in Long Beach, believes Patrick Long, everyone will be driving with relatively soft tyres. “We won’t manage all the laps without a tyre change. And even the softest tyres can withstand two short stints.”
The customer team Flying Lizard Motorsports races a second 911 GT3 RSR in Long Beach with pilots Darren Law (USA) and Seth Neiman (USA). VICI Racing also enters a 911 GT3 RSR.
The race starts on Saturday, 18th April, at 16.15 hours local time (01.15 hrs CEST Sunday) and runs over 100 minutes.