Wright Motorsports Produces Strong Points Day with Top-Five Finish at Petit Le Mans

BRASELTON, Ga., (October 18, 2020) – The 23rd Annual Motul Petit Le Mans delivered its usual excitement Saturday evening at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The Wright Motorsports No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3R delivered a strong performance after starting tenth to finish fourth, earning their eighth top-five finish in nine races. The fourth-place finish brought solid points for drivers Ryan Hardwick and Patrick Long, who were joined over the weekend by endurance race addition Jan Heylen.

“Again, our guys executed a flawless race,” said Team Owner John Wright. “No one made a mistake all race, and we were able to fight up front for a while, but in the end, we were fighting for that third spot on the podium. We’re still very much in the hunt for the championship, and we’ll be strong at the final two races.”

Race morning brought Road Atlanta the coldest temperatures the competitors had all week, staying in the high 40s for the morning warm-up. Under clear blue skies, Ryan Hardwick started from tenth, avoiding any conflict during the car’s opening stint. He held off pressure from the No. 23 Aston Martin to charge after the No. 14 Lexus, and pitted from 12th under caution for his first stop for tires and fuel. The speed of the Wright Motorsports crew in pit lane put the No. 16 in the position to restart from 11th.

Jan Heylen took over with just under two hours complete, joining the race in 12th, 8.4 seconds behind the No. 14 Lexus of Jack Hawksworth. In the opening laps, Heylen shaved a second off that gap, and 15 minutes later gained two positions. After passing the 14 of Jack Hawksworth and the No. 44 Lamborghini of John Potter, The No. 16 Porsche had a 21-second gap to the No. 23 Aston Martin of Darren Turner. Within 15 minutes, Heylen cut that gap in half, gaining with every lap. He finished his stint in eighth and handed the No. 16 Porsche back over to Hardwick with fresh tires and a full tank of fuel.

With more hours of this year’s Petit Le Mans set to run in the cover of night than ever before, Wright Motorsports elected to set the car up to be its strongest for the final stints. However, that made Hardwick’s stints more challenging to drive in the heat of the afternoon. The hometown hero still delivered, rejoining the race in eighth and gaining a position during his brief stint.

Patrick Long took over the driving duties from Hardwick, rejoining 11th but made quick work to take tenth. A full-course caution brought the field back together, and a pass-around and pit strategy allowed all of the lapped cars to gain their lost lap back. After the pass-around, the No. 16 pitted, and again, stellar work by the Wright Motorsports crew gained the Porsche two more spots before going back to green. Long was ready to race, and as soon as his tires were up to temperature, he charged forward, gaining half of a second on the No. 14 Lexus ahead. The Lexus pitted for a full-service stop, moving Long up to sixth, and right behind the No. 23 of Ian James. Long made the pass on the Aston Martin for fifth just as another full-course caution paused the racing.

The GTD field poured into pit lane under caution, and due to one car short-fueling, the No. 16 Porsche exited pit lane to restart in sixth behind the No. 57 Acura. Heylen reclaimed fifth when contact between the No .57 Acura and the No.9 Porsche in turns 10 A/B dropped the 57 down the charts, and the No. 9 followed shortly after. The No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche claimed third place as dusk began to fall around the Braselton, Georgia road course. The No. 48 Lamborghini, still on their alternate fuel strategy, pitted early, moving Wright Motorsports, the fastest car in class, up to second.

Patrick Long took over from second place just before the fourth full-course caution of the day at 7:00PM, after almost six and half hours running. He had rejoined the race in third and came in for a quick splash under caution. For the third time in 6.5 hours, the crew gained the No. 16 Porsche a position in pit lane, coming out ahead of the No. 63 Ferrari. The fourth green flag of the race immediately produced a three-way battle for the second position between the No. 14 Lexus, No. 16 Porsche, and the No. 63 Ferrari.

By 8:00PM, the track was in full darkness, and Patrick Long brought the Porsche to the tail of the leader, fighting with every lap to take the lead position. The No. 48 again pitted early, and Patrick Long led the GTD field to the end of his stint. Heylen resumed his duties, rejoining in eighth. The Porsche 911 GT3 R seemed to have a longer time getting up to speed on cold tires, but still made moves to climb back up to third place. With 52 minutes remaining, the team made their final pit stop, with Heylen rejoining in sixth.

Tensions reached an all-time high in the final half-hour, bringing out two full-course cautions, limiting the time competitors had left to fight for position. Heylen captured fourth place and started to reel in the car in third just as the final caution came out, running to the checkered flag. The strong run at Petit Le Mans keeps Wright Motorsports second in the team championship standings, two points behind AIM VASSER Sullivan. Provisionally, Hardwick and Long stand third in the driver, just four points behind Aaron Telitz.

The Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA had an incredibly successful weekend with Charlie Luck, driver of the No. 45 Porsche sweeping all three wins in the Road Atlanta tripleheader. Provisionally, he stands second in the Masters driver point standings. Joseph Lombardo, driver of the No. 92 Porsche earned two third-place finishes, joining luck on the Masters Podium.

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA next head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, October 30 to November 1.

Driver Quotes

Ryan Hardwick
Fourth place at my hometown race. I’ll take it. It’s a shame because I think we were very close to battling for another podium. Our podium streak has ended, but our championship hopes are more alive than ever. We’re four points out of the lead and looking forward to finishing the season at tracks that we’re strong at: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Sebring International Raceway. I’m looking forward to taking this championship fight to the final lap.

Patrick Long
Fourth place finish. We had a good charge at the end. There was a ton of strategy and contact between all the classes. It was one of those finishes that you wanted a few more laps, but I’m proud of the effort. The guys were flawless in the pits all day. We had the pace and it was a good points day. We retained second place in the team points, and sit third in the driver standings. We just have to keep putting these solid positions on the board and let the year take its own shape.

Jan Heylen
It was a really cool race. I’m really happy that I could do it with the team. We were hoping for a podium, and it was definitely within our grasp, but we had a couple of things that didn’t come our way right at the end. The car had really good pace when the tires were hot, but we weren’t as good as some on cold tires out of the pit. I think that’s where we gave up a possible win or podium. We had the speed to win the race, but not on cold tires. It’s something we need to look into and see what we can do better for the next run. It was a crazy race. It was flawless for our team. We had good pit stops, and nobody made any mistakes. It’s tough to have everything go well and have the pace to compete for a win and not come away with a podium. It’s a little disappointing, but it was a really good points day for the team. In the end, that was the big picture. Now we have two races left and the team is in the best position to try to win the championship now. That’s exciting and we all did a good job.

1st Phorm
1st Phorm is a sports nutrition company based in St. Louis, MO. In 2009, CEO Andy Frisella and his business partner Chris Klein started the brand, and since then, it has become the fastest growing supplement company in the world. 1st Phorm has set the standards in the industry for quality and helping people reach their goals. This new racing partnership is not their first time in the exotic car scene either. 1st Phorm has been the title sponsor for the Gold Rush Rally for six years running. With over a million followers across social media, 1st Phorm has amassed a huge cult-like following known as, “The Legion of Boom.” They stand for a movement in the fitness world. To turn it back to what it was meant to be. Helping others improve their lives, to be a good human… and to drop the excuses and do the work. 1st Phorm is a winning brand and they don’t expect anything less when it comes to their race team. For additional info: www.1stphorm.com

Mountain Motorsports
Mountain Motorsports is a group of motorcycle and powersports dealerships with multiple locations in the southeastern United States. The company was founded by lifelong friends Ryan Hardwick and Justin Price when they opened their first location as a single-line Honda dealership in Sevierville, Tennessee in 1999. The company has since grown into one of the largest retailers of motorcycle and powersports vehicles in the nation, spanning eight dealership locations representing eleven of the industry’s most well-known brands. For additional info: www.mtn-motorsports.com

Una Vida Tequila
Una Vida translates to One Life. That is how this brand started. By people who want to live their “One Life” to the absolute fullest and to their highest potential. A group of guys from the Midwest who love great quality tequila, and want their One Life to have meaning and impact others.

One Life, One Tequila is our CORE BELIEF. We’re building the only tequila brand you will ever need to drink. Una Vida is bigger than just tequila we’re also building a culture of people who want to live their life to their utmost potential.

Our story begins and continues to grow bottle by bottle. It’s a life mission for us to create a community of people who all raise a glass knowing they’re living their ONE LIFE! For more information, visit unavidatequila.com

Henry Repeating Arms
Henry Repeating Arms is one of the leading rifle and shotgun manufacturers in the United States and a world leader in the lever-action category. The company motto is “Made in America, or not made at all” and its firearms come with a lifetime guarantee backed by award-winning customer service. The company is also known for its charitable endeavors under its Guns For Great Causes program, which focuses on sick children, both individual cases and children’s hospitals, veteran and wounded veteran organizations, Second Amendment and wildlife conservation organizations. The company currently employs 535 people and has 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space in its Rice Lake, Wisconsin and Bayonne, New Jersey facilities. The company is named in honor of Benjamin Tyler Henry who invented and patented the Henry rifle in 1860 – the first repeating rifle, the lever-action rifle, which is America’s unique contribution to international firearms design and is one of the most legendary, respected and sought after rifles in the history of firearms. Visit Henry Repeating Arms online at www.HenryUSA.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/HenryRepeating, and on Instagram @Henry_Rifles.

Wright Motorsports
Wright Motorsports is the premier Porsche race engineering facility in Ohio and a multi-series, international racing team known for superb car preparation, expert race strategy and driver development. Located in Batavia, Ohio, it is owned and directed by John Wright, a certified Porsche factory-trained technician. As a crew chief John Wright has played a key role in winning eight driver and seven team championships in World Challenge, IMSA (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Rolex Series. Wright Motorsports won the team championship in Porsche GT3 Cup USA in 2012, 2013 and 2015, and went on to win the Pirelli World Challenge Overall, Sprint, Team and Manufacturer’s titles in 2017. The 2020 season will see the team return to IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship. For more information, visit wrightmotorsports.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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