Longe Chases Platinum Cup Crown

Andrew Longe will be a top contender for the 2016 Platinum Cup Championship. (IMSA photo)
Andrew Longe will be a top contender for the 2016 Platinum Cup Championship. (IMSA photo)
Andrew Longe will be a top contender for the 2016 Platinum Cup Championship. (IMSA photo)

SEBRING, Fla. – It’s a year full of opportunity for one of the top returning Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama drivers.

Andrew Longe leads a field of championship hopefuls toward the crown after finishing fourth in the championship last year.

Longe is his first season with reigning 2015 Platinum Team champions Wright Motorsports and second in the series. His 2015 season was highlighted by a second-place finish at NOLA Motorsports Park. Longe showed superb consistency, never finishing outside of the top seven.

“Wright knows how to win a championship,” Longe said. “With their championship last year and such a great group of people, they made the transition really easy.

“There’s not added pressure coming back, but with the season I had last year, it definitely motivates me,” Longe said. “I know what I can accomplish and having the team behind me just pushes me that much more. If we put all of our pieces together, I know we’ll be there in the end.”

His sophomore season will kick off March 16-18 at Sebring Int’l Raceway as part of the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida race week. Last year he finished sixth in both rounds.

The season opener is also the home race for Longe, from Naples, Fla. That provides a small bit of an advantage and a whole lot of motivation.

“I haven’t had a ton of time on the track,” Longe said. “We were here last year and then a couple of club races, so I’m still learning the nuances. But I love it. It has so much character here that some of the other tracks don’t, especially with the old pavement. It’s my home track, so there’s a special place in my heart for it. So I’m definitely a big fan.”

While the opening two rounds of the 16-race season start in March, preparation for the season with his new team started Tuesday at the International Motor Sports Ass’n (IMSA)-sanctioned test at Sebring. Longe finished in the top five in both practice sessions, quickly setting the tone for the first part of his season.

“Today went really well,” Longe said. “We’ve done a few mock qualifying runs and race runs just to get a basis of what the car’s going to do over the long run. Today’s focus has been blending with the team and getting everyone together. But we’re all jelling really well, and it’s been great.

“The focus for us at the beginning of the season is to score points in every race and then hopefully we have a good fight at the end. Everyone likes to win. But top five every race, which is what we were today, is the goal and scoring points is a must if you want to be in the championship fight at the end.”

The advantages of a multi-car team are already taking shape for Longe, who was on a single-car team last year.

“Being a multi-car team and coming from a one-car team makes a big difference,” Longe said. “We have that many cars to share data and try setups and different things on. They’ve been great. They’ve been one of the top teams in the paddock, and I’m honored to be with them.”