Patrick Long in Bathurst 12 Hour talks
American Le Mans Series racer Patrick Long is currently in talks that could see him on the grid for the 2012 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour.
The 30-year-old, who drove in the weekend’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 alongside Fabian Coulthard, sees the GT race as a perfect opportunity to learn the Mount Panorama circuit before an assault on the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s earlier story about the increasing international interest in the Bathurst 1000
A Porsche factory driver for the last eight years, Long says he already has a sponsorship package in place to do the once-around-the-clock event, most likely with an Australian Porsche team.
“The idea behind running in the 12 Hour is obviously the interest and the prestige of the Mountain, but more objectively it’s to learn the track in equipment that I know very well, which would be in Porsche GTs,” Long told Speedcafe.com.
“It would be less about going for a serious win-or-nothing, but more about logging the laps. If I can find the right program here in Australia with a 911 then I’d be really honoured to be a part of it.
“I have a sponsorship package with a gentleman driver who’s interested in doing the race if I could put the right program together.
“It’s wide open at the moment, but I’m keeping close with the guys at Porsche Australia to see what might be available.”
Long says that V8 Supercars regulars Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff were highly encouraging of making a 12 Hour start prior to lining up for the 1000.
“I’ve had some good talks with Lowndsey and Luffy, because they were over at the Nurburgring when I was there,” said Long.
“Craig was telling me how having the aero of a GT car across the Mountain would really help me to get a feel for the place before showing up in something like a V8 Supercar.
“But if it doesn’t happen this year, it doesn’t mean we won’t try and do it in 2013 or whatever, but I think it’s a good race.
“It’s got good momentum as a GT3 race now. Whether or not there’ll be any foreign Porsche entries or not I’m not sure, we’re just trying to get our heads around that now.”
The Bathurst 12 Hour’s February 24-26 date sees it well clear of the start of the American Le Mans Series season, and opens up the possibility for several international Bathurst 1000 aspirants to contest the race.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s story on the Bathurst 12 Hour’s plan to increase crowd numbers in 2012