EVENT PREVIEW: Wright Motorsports Takes IMSA Championship Fight to the Streets of Long Beach
BATAVIA, Ohio. (April 5, 2022) – The streets of Long Beach, California will come alive with the sound of race cars this weekend as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns for another exciting race event. The 47th Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place April 8-10, and Wright Motorsports is on the hunt for another podium finish at the 1.968-mile temporary street course. The No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R secured a third-place finish in 2021, and now the 2022 pairing of Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen will fight for their second podium of the new season.
“The Grand Prix of Long Beach is such a special event,” said Team Owner John Wright. “Not only is the circuit tough and unique, but the atmosphere is electric. We’re happy to be back, and we have our sights set on getting back on that podium to earn some additional points for the championship.”
The season has gotten off to a strong start for the Ohio-based team, who secured the GTD class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, then clinched pole position at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. An unfortunate mechanical issue took the team out of podium contention early into the race, but the team salvaged an impressive top ten finish, holding a firm grasp on third place in the championship point standings.
Full season drivers Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen will enjoy their first sprint race of the year in the No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R. Saturday’s race will be a 100-minute dash to the checker flag where the pair will attempt to best last year’s third-place finish by drivers Patrick Long and Trent Hindman. This will be a first attempt at the California street course in a race car for American Ryan Hardwick, who previously raced in Long Beach with jet skis and in AMA Supermoto. Belgian driver Jan Heylen first raced the course in 2006 in the Champ Car World Series with Dale Coyne Racing, also his first event in America.
A total of 27 entries are set to compete in the street-racing event, with the GTD class boasting the highest number of participants at 15. This weekend, only three of the series’ five classes will compete: DPI, GTD Pro, and GTD. Though not all classes are running in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the tight circuit, with concrete walls on both sides, makes for close quarters competition. The unforgiving circuit offers no traditional runoff area like competitors have had at longer and more spacious road courses that the series visits throughout the year.
The entire IMSA event will take place in just two days, with both practice sessions and the qualifying session happening on Friday, April 8. The Grand Prix of Long Beach will air live on USA and Peacock, beginning at 2:00 PM Pacific on Saturday, April 9. For more information, visit wrightmotorsports.com.
Racing in the Grand Prix of Long Beach is a dream come true for me! I've watched this spectacular race for years and have always wanted to compete here one day. While I haven't raced on the streets of Long Beach, I have competed in several jet ski races here, as well as an AMA Supermoto event several years ago. I also really enjoy the challenge of racing on street circuits. It truly tests every driver's car control, and ability to take the car right up to the concrete walls in order to maximize pace. Our team had a strong car here last year, so I'm confident we can be competitive again this season. I’m also excited for our first sprint race of the year with just Jan and I in the driver's seat. I can't wait to get going!
Long beach is a special race for me, as it’s where I did my first race in the United States. I love street courses. They remind me of the Champ Car days and racing in Europe. I’m excited to get the sprint races going with Ryan. I know he’s done a million laps on the simulator and is ready to go.
Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands
This year, the Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands joins the Grand Prix of Long Beach, setting up camp inside the Long Beach Convention Center. Rounds three and four of the championship will occur in support of the headlining events with a pair of 40-minute races. Varun Choksey, Hutton McKenna, and John Goetz represent Wright Motorsports in the single-make championship, coming off a strong opening event at Sebring International Raceway last month. Race one will take the green flag at 10:45 AM PT on Saturday, April 9, followed by race two on Sunday, April 10 at 4:20 PM. Both races will stream live on Peacock and porschecarreracup.us.