Patrick Long, Connor De Phillippi get unique opportunity at Laguna Seca – Orange County Register

Three sports car drivers from Southern California and one Costa Mesa team are among the 22 cars entered for Sunday’s inaugural SRO International GT Challenge California 8 Hours at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It’s the third of four races in the 2017 series.

“We thought 18 to 20 would be a good point to start at,” Pirelli World Challenge leader Greg Gill told “We’re surprised and pleased at the entries we are getting, particularly the mix between North American and Europe teams.”

The field will include factory-backed teams from Nissan, Audi, Acura, Porsche and McLaren racing around the 2.238 mile, 11-turn road course. Previous series stops include Bathurst in Australia, Belgium’s Spa and will conclude in December in Sepang, Malaysia

Local drivers in the field will include Patrick Long of Manhattan Beach in a Porsche; San Clemente’s Connor De Phillippi, driving an Audi; and Michael Lewis of Laguna Beach, who will drive a Porsche for GMG Racing.

This has been a successful season for Long, part of John Wright’s three-car entries. Long, the 36-year-old who has won the PWC Overall GT and Sprint GT titles this year, will be paired in the Porsche 911 GT3-R with Jorg Bergmeister of Germany and France’s Romain Dumas.

“Additional factory drivers and teams who have won international championships coming to Laguna Seca — what’s not to like about that?” Long said. “I look forward to the endurance element and the unique format will make it a great show. It adds a lot of planning for the team, they have been working hard to prepare for the event.

“I have been endurance racing with them before and they know how to get the job done. Strategy will be the key.”

The GMC lineup will include Andrew Davis and Preston Calvert.

De Phillippi was mentored by Long in his early days after his open-wheel dreams were crushed by lack of funds.

“He has been a huge influence for me and his guidance gave me confidence to work hard in sports car…

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