Long Regains Championship Lead After a Double-Edged Weekend at Road America

Known for its long straights and unpredictable turns, you can always expect an action filled weekend at Road America and Rounds 4 and 5 of the Pirelli World Challenge Sprint championship were no exception. The double header event saw a victory and a second place for Patrick Long and an unfortunate incident that put an early end to an already-shortened weekend for Michael Schein.

An action-packed Race 1 started with a lap-one incident between the leaders that allowed Long to advance from his fourth place starting positon to second. From there, he worked on edging his way up to Adderley Fong’s Bentley and building a margin over Michael Cooper, who ran third.

With 10-minutes remaining, the No. 58 Porsche was filling up the rear view mirrors of the Bentley and Long was planting an attack which ultimately saw him taking second, just .0685 seconds out of the lead.

“We focused on putting the Bentley under pressure the whole race. The last lap was really close. Fong was stronger in some corners and I was stronger in others, but we were ultimately able to fight right to the end,” said Long.

Come time for Race 2, Long’s fast lap from Saturday had him in the second place qualifying slot. That didn’t last long as the Porsche factory driver dove around the outside of Fong into turn one and took over the lead, earning himself the ‘Cadillac Move of the Race’.

Immediately after the start, a full course yellow was thrown for an incident involving the sister car of Schein. This was quickly followed by another much larger incident that brought out an 18-minute red flag period to clean up debris and fix a barrier.

By the time the field was ready to go back to green, there were 16-minutes remaining. Despite a charging Fong, Long maintained his composure through the restart and went on to claim his tenth career PWC win in Race 2.

“That was a memorable victory. We could’ve been fifth or first today,” said Long. “The start was the game changer for us, then my job was to run absolute qualifying laps amongst all of the stoppages of red flags and yellows. We improved the car from yesterday and made some big swings, which is not always the way we tune, but I trusted John Wright and Bobby Viglione’s direction and it paid off. It was a huge points week.”

Following this weekend’s results Long is tied with Michael Cooper for the overall driver’s championship lead and has advanced to 17-point lead over Alvaro Parente in the Sprint championship.

Not everything goes to plan in racing and that was just the case for Schein this weekend. After missing qualifying and Race 1 due to a prior family commitment, the he returned to the circuit on Sunday with high hopes for Race 2. With no time logged during the first race, the New Yorker had to start from a very untraditional spot at the back of the pack.

Unfortunately, Schein’s run ended in dramatic fashion as he got caught up in an unavoidable lap-one incident between two other GTA competitors heading into turn 5. It was quickly determined that the damage done to the right rear of the Porsche was too severe for him to continue.

Schein now runs fourth in the GTA Sprint championship with a 44-point gap to James Sofronas who has taken over the lead.

The Pirelli World Challenge field will return to action for Rounds 6 and 7 of the Sprint championship July 28-30 at Mid-Ohio.

Source. Carlin Sanderson

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