Long lap, long day
Pat Long is your guide to a lap of Le Mans in a 911.
Every Porsche on the highway is shaped by
its racing DNA. And so much of that DNA has
been formed over six decades and countless
grueling miles in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Here,
Porsche factory driver Pat Long describes a lap
of the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in his
Flying Lizard Motorsports 911 GT3 RSR.
You can be a stud through what I call Turn 1, but you stand to lose more if you brake too late for the Dunlop Curve.
A lot of passes are made out of Dunlop because
someone has been overzealous on the way in.
The next section, from Dunlop to Tertre
Rouge, is my favorite. The right-hander after
the bridge is flat for us in a Porsche, but you
have to be committed and know you’re on the
The right-hander at the Esses is down a gear
and not easy in a GT car – it’s quicker than it
looks. The rest is flat, but you’ve got to know the
flow of the track because it’s a blind exit. Tertre
Rouge is really a standard right-hander and all
about getting a good exit onto the Mulsanne
Straight. It’s key at night to pick your braking
points at the end of the three sections of straight.
There have been guys who became distracted and
realized their braking point was behind them…
It’s important to maintain concentration, but
the straight also o;ers an opportunity to talk to
the team on the radio and, for me, to remind
myself of my priorities, whether I need to be
driving harder or trying to save the equipment.
The second chicane is the harder of the two
because there is a pretty big bump as you lean
the car into the left. They both have their
nuances: for example, the first chicane puddles
up in the wet.
Mulsanne Corner is an easy place to get your
braking wrong. You take an apex through the
braking zone, which makes it tricky if a
prototype gets under you. The stretch from
Mulsanne to Indianapolis is e;ectively a straight
with two kinks, though there’s no margin of
error because there’s only grass beyond the track
limits. This is where problems can occur because,
unlike what the couch surfers believe, it is not
easy for a GT to run the left-hand lane flat if the
driver is being overtaken by a prototype.
The right-hander at Indianapolis is a
relatively light brake. The left is tighter than it
looks and easy to get wrong if you don’t tip the
car in at the right point. The biggest challenge
at Arnage is that you are heading into the
slowest corner on the track after running so fast
for so long. That makes it easy to overshoot.
The right-hander into the Porsche Curves is
pretty bumpy, so I focus on getting turned in
early so I don’t miss the apex. I love the first
two left-handers that follow because they have
such a flow. They’re relatively drama free if you
have a good car and you’re on your own, but
they’re an absolute bitch if you have a
prototype in a hurry around you.
Ford Chicane, which brings you back onto
the start-finish straight, is a quick kart-style
sequence. It is all about balancing curb use
with throttle application. Monster the curbs
too much and you have an unhappy car, and
that makes you late on the throttle.“