MANSFIELD, Ohio. (September 27, 2020) – Wright Motorsports celebrated a well-earned third-place finish Sunday afternoon with the No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 91 GT3 R in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio. The strategic drive from eighth to third netted the team their second consecutive podium of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“What a great job by everyone on the team,” said Team Owner John Wright. “Ryan Hardwick and Patrick Long did a great job fighting through the field, and in the end, the No. 16 Porsche was strong against the competition. Scoring a podium on your home track is always a great feeling, and netting some extra points to the championship doesn’t hurt either.”
Contrary to Mid-Ohio tradition, the IMSA paddock was graced with perfect weather conditions all weekend, closing the week out with sunny skies and cool early autumn temperatures by the time the field took the green flag. Hardwick started from eighth and held his position in the opening laps. A Lexus further up the field pitted with damage, moving the Wright Motorsports Porsche up to seventh as Hardwick began to get pressure from the No. 74 Mercedes AMG of Gar Robinson. The speed of the Porsche kept the Wright car up front under Hardwick’s skillful maneuvering, allowing the No. 76 McLaren 720S of Corey Fergus to catch up to and put pressure on Robinson. Hardwick pulled away and settled into a steady rhythm with his competitive lap times, closing back in on the No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage that had managed to create a three-second gap.
A full course caution in lap 24 brought the field back together, and the team used the opportunity to conduct a driver change, following the completion of Hardwick’s required minimum drive-time. Long’s opening laps produced a nose-to-tail battle with Andy Lally in the No. 44 Lamborghini. Long took the eighth place position from Lally on the back straight shortly before another full-course caution came out with an hour to go. Wright Motorsports pitted the Porsche under caution for tires and fuel, gaining three spots after quick work in pit lane from the experienced crew.
Long and the No. 16 Porsche restarted from fifth, and were witness to unsportsmanlike conduct from the No. 76 McLaren on the No. 86 Acura. The incident sent the No. 86 off course and into pit lane with damages, and the No. 76 was called into pit lane to serve a penalty as a result. Long moved up to third place, where he charged forward to close the gap to the No. 74. In the end, there was not enough time on the clock, and Long and the No. 16 Porsche finished in third place, netting a successful result at the team’s home track.
The back-to-back successes bring the pairing of Hardwick and Long up to third in the championship standings with still four rounds remaining in the IMSA championship. The remaining four rounds are divided into two sprint and two endurance weekends. The series will make its Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL debut October 9-10 for the next round in the 2020 battle for the title. Wright Motorsports tested at the Roval earlier this season in preparation for the inaugural event and will factor in the valuable data obtained to continue to strive for the 2020 championship title.
One podium is great but two podiums in a row is even better! It felt really, really good to earn our second consecutive podium finish at the home track for Wright Motorsports. My teammate Patrick Long drove an amazing double stint to bring us home in third, and our pit crew was absolutely perfect all day. Our strategy was spot on after getting dropped back a little at the start, and it’s just is another example of how racing at this level is such a team sport.
It's fantastic to back up Road Atlanta with another podium position. I feel like we're just finding our stride as a group. Continuing to back up these results will yeild well for the remainder of the year. We had a little more adversity today than we may have wanted, but the yellows came our way we had the pace to fight at the end.