SALINAS, Calif. – GT championship contender Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach, Calif., established himself as one to beat for Sunday’s 50-minute GT season finale by driving his No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to the fastest practice speed Friday afternoon at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Pirelli World Challenge Championships present by Nissan.
Long, 34, recorded a lap time of one minute, 24.856 seconds for an average speed of 94.947 miles per hour as the air and track temperatures increased in the afternoon practice round. The 201 GT series champion was second in the morning practice at 1:24.130, just behind fastest of the day, Michael Cooper of Syosset, N.Y., with a 1:23.986 clocking in the No. 8 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R.
Cooper only recorded two laps in the afternoon before retiring his Cadillac for the day.
Long, a three-time GT winner in 2016, trails current GT point leader Alvaro Parente of Porto, Portugal, by nine points entering Sunday’s season-ending GT event.
Second in the afternoon GT practice was young Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, Calif., with a 1:25.106 time in the No. 98 Calvert Dynamics/CurbAgajanian Porsche 911 GT3 R followed by another young star Kyle Marcelli of Barrie, Ont., Canada at 1:25.137 in the No. 2 CRP Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Rounding out the top five in the GT practice on Friday afternoon were Spencer Pumpelly of Atlanta in the No. 34 RealTime Racing Acura TLX-GT at 1:25.198 and 18-year-old Austin Cindric of Charlotte, N.C., at 1:25.250 in the No. 6 K-PAX Racing/REV McLaren 650S.
GT point leader Parente took his No. 9 K-PAX Racing McLaren 650S to the sixth position Friday afternoon with a 1:25.314.
In the GTA division, Michael Schein of Glen Cove, N.Y., Long’s Wright Motorsports teammate in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R, was the quickest in the afternoon at 1:26.041 over GTA series champion Martin Fuentes of Mexico City in the No. 07 Scuderia Corsa/Hublot Ferrari 458 Italia at 1:26.119.
Rookie Corey Fergus of Columbus, Ohio topped the GT Cup category on Friday afternoon with a 1:29.369 in his No. 00 Byers Imports/Motorsports Promotions Porsche 911 GT3 Cup over Sloan Urry of Salt Lake City, Utah at 1:30.516 in the TruSpeed Autosport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Qualifying for GT/GTA/GT Cup is schedule for Saturday at 10:25 am PDT with the Sunday’s GT finale set for 1:05 p.m. PDT.