Long Tops Pirelli World Challenge GT Practice At Miller; Braun Bests GTS Class
Apr. 27, 2012 - TOOELE, Utah - Patrick Long, of Belleaire, Fla., missed the Pirelli World Challenge race at Miller Motorsports Park a season ago on his way to the Drivers’ Championship because of the prior commitment. One year later, Long is in the seat for his only scheduled GT race this season, filling in for Lawson Aschenbach.
Long leads Sofronas in the first practice (Weber photo)
Long picked up right where he left off, leading Friday morning’s practice session for the Privacy Star Utah Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant. Colin Braun, of Charlotte, N.C., led the GTS class in the 30-minute combined session.
Long turned a lap of 1:51.989 (97.981 mph) in the No. 1 Privacy Star/EnTrust/TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 to lead the GT field on the track’s 23-turn, 3.048-mile Outer Course configuration.
“This series is a lot of fun, and the combination of running with these guys at TruSpeed and the series, it’s like a nice, relaxing weekend so far,” Long said. “But I know based on past experiences that there’s a few cars that haven’t shown all their cards yet. We’re just keeping our head down, we’re not interested in the sandbagging game. We’re just going out there and trying to tune the Entrust/Privacy Star car in and having fun.
“I think we could have ran pretty well last year. I like this track, I’ve had a lot of success, it’s been good to me. It’s nice to be back here. It was pure fate that Lawson had a clash and I happened to not have a race.”
Porsche filled the top three in the practice, with James Sofronas running second in the No. 14 Global Motorsports Group Porsche 911 GT3. Sofronas turned a lap of 1:52.635 (97.419 mph), just ahead of local driver Madison Snow. Snow, a 16-year-old from nearby Lehi, Utah, drove the No. 47 TruSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 to a lap of 1:52.706 (97.375 mph) to sit third in the practice.
Cadillac teammates and GT Championship leaders Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim completed the top five. O’Connell’s No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V turned a lap of 1:52.764 (97.307 mph), just 0.005-second ahead of the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V in 1:52.769 (97.303 mph).
Braun’s Kinetic Racing crew has continued to work on the No. 38 Infinity Audio/Kia Motors America Kia Optima all season long. After difficulties at the season opener at St. Petersburg, Braun finished on the podium at Long Beach and led a 1-2 sweep of Friday’s practice with teammate Michael Galati.
A fast lap of 2:00.112 (91.354 mph) led the GTS class during the session.
“I think it’s just a testament to the work these guys at Kintetic have done and how good of a baseline car the Kia Optima is to work off of,” Braun said. “These guys have really transformed this thing into quite a bit of a race car. We struggled really bad at St. Pete and got these cars back and were able to analyze some things and made some big changes to try to go in a direction we thought was going to be better. We haven’t tested these cars at all except every time we go to the race track, so it’s big leaps and bounds of learning new things and figuring things out for us.
“This morning doesn’t really mean much. It’s cool, so it’s a great day for a turbo car to be quick. We went out on new tires and light fuel tanks and wanted to see where are pace was at. I don’t think it really means a whole lot, those guys have a lot of experience and knowledge that are sitting behind us so we’ll see what happens at race time.”
Galati’s 2:00.472 (91.081 mph) in the No. 36 Infinity Audio/Kia Motors America Kia Optima was just off the time of his teammate in the opening session.
Peter Cunningham’s No. 42 RealTime Racing/Acura/HPD Acura TSX was third in the session at 2:00.557 (91.017 mph), followed by the No. 20 Best IT Chevrolet Camaro of Andy Lee in 2:00.629 (90.963 mph). Cunningham’s RealTimeRacing teammate, Nick Esayian, completed the top-five in GTS with a lap of 2:01.306 (90.45 mph) in the No. 34 RealTime Racing/Acura/HPD Acura TSX.
The GT and GTS field return for a combined Pirelli World Challenge practice at 1:20 p.m. (MDT) on Friday afternoon, followed by qualifying for Saturday’s race at 3:50 p.m.
More information is available at www.world-challenge.com. Follow Pirelli World Challenge on Twitter @WCRacing.