RECAP: Wright Motorsports Triumphs at Indianapolis 8 Hour, Wins Pro Class
INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (October 9, 2023) – The 2023 championship for the GT World Challenge America powered by AWS concluded Saturday evening at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the Wright Motorsports No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 R that controlled the Indianapolis 8 Hour to take the Pro class win in the SRO America season finale. Drivers Jan Heylen, Madison Snow, and Trent Hindman ended the season with a victory, their third in a row following a Sebring sweep. The No. 120 of Adam Adelson, Elliott Skeer, and Callum Ilott finished fifth in the Pro-Am class, coming in second place in the final championship standings.
“On one hand, we’re incredibly proud and honored to be celebrating a win at the Brickyard,” said Team Owner John Wright. “That entire group drove a perfect race, and the race fell into our hands perfectly. They made it look easy, but we all know the hard work that went into making this success happen. The No. 120 also put in an impressive effort to be there in the end for the Pro-Am championship title, but it wasn’t meant to be this time. We can still be incredibly proud of what we had to accomplish to be here in the end, and Adam and Elliott had a great debut year in this championship.”
In each car, all three drivers set a fast lap time for their car, and the average of those three laps stood as the team’s official qualifying lap. Since the No. 45 Porsche made it into the top ten in qualifying, the entry then competed in Superpole, another 15-minute qualifying session where the top ten entries again competed for the possibility of a better qualifying position. Madison Snow started Saturday’s eight-hour endurance race from second place in the GT World Challenge America Pro class, and seventh overall. Adam Adelson and the No. 120 Porsche, the championship points-leader entering the finale, started from 13th overall and fifth in the Pro-Am class. Wise to not attempt a win in the opening lap, the Wright Porsches took no unnecessary risks in the opening hour. Though Adelson was shuffled down to eighth, he had a steady comeback in his opening stint getting back up to sixth place before the pair of Porsches underwent their first driver changes. Trent Hindman took over for Madison Snow and joined the race in third place, engaging in a four-car battle for the class lead two hours into the race. Callum Ilott replaced Adelson in the No. 120, climbing from sixth to second place. By the time the race reached the two-hour and fifteen-minute mark, both Wright Porsches maneuvered their way to lead their respective classes.
With three hours complete, Elliott Skeer took command of the green and yellow No. 120 Porsche, racing hard against the No. 04 Mercedes of George Kurtz and Colin Braun, their championship rivals. The No. 04 took the lead, and the Wright Porsche stayed close through the next round of driver changes. Ilott quickly took the lead back from the No. 04, while Heylen also brought the No. 45 Porsche back to the front of the Pro class. As the competitors raced into golden hour, the No. 120 and the No. 04 raced nose-to-tail and side-by-side, fighting not only for the race lead but the points championship. A left rear tire puncture on the No. 45 resulted in an unplanned pit stop, moving the championship points leader back to third place with two and a half hours left. Though Skeer was able to climb back up to second place, the No. 04 had too large of a gap to close in the time remaining. The team had hoped for a full-course caution to bring the field back together, but the opportunity did not come. The No. 120 Porsche finished in the top five, but behind the No. 04 Mercedes AMG, finishing second in the team championship standings. The No. 45 Porsche also suffered a tire issue and had to make an unexpected pit stop in the final hour but was able to rejoin in the lead. Heylen drove to the finish, taking the overall win and earning a fourth-place finish with Snow and Hindman.
In the end, Wright Motorsports closed out the 2023 season with 20 top-five finishes, 14 podiums, and nine wins.
I’m super happy with the win but of course we were here to try and compete for the overall win, we just didn’t have the speed. Really good job by the by the whole team. We had a tough start to the weekend, and a nice recovery, good teamwork and everybody did their job that got us to be the winner in class. I’m happy about that and happy for the team. A big thank you goes to Charlie [Luck] for putting us here and supporting us all the way through the end of the season.
We are winners here in the Indianapolis 8 Hour. I started the season off at Road America and struggled a bit there. But then Sebring, we really took to our own, took off there, did what I know we can do here at Wright Motorsports. It’s nice to then come to Indy, different track, another race and a whole different challenge being an actual eight-hour endurance race and to show it again and win the pro class again.
First of all, thank you to Charlie Luck for having me in the car for the Indianapolis 8 Hour. It's a pleasure to drive the Wright Motorsports prepared Porsche 911 GT3 R and to be given that opportunity here at the Indianapolis 8 Hour is very special. We earned fourth place overall. Another couple cautions throughout the race, to continue packing up the field, would have helped us out. Obviously, a class win is important, but I think this group that we have underneath us, we're always shooting for an overall victory. We still executed great today; all the guys did a phenomenal job. We worked through some tough moments this weekend, and to come away with a class win and obviously a top five overall in such a big race is special.
I can't believe that our rookie GT3 season is already over. Thinking back to my first time in a GT3 car during the 24H of Dubai in January, I can't believe the progress both Elliott and I have made and couldn't be more proud. As I've said in the past, this was meant to be a learning year for us, and if you would've told me that I would be disappointed not winning the championship at the beginning of the year I would've thought you were crazy. I'm so proud of and grateful for the chance that Wright Motorsports took with us, and I'm happy to say that this is just the beginning of our journey. To come in second in the championships I've participated in the last two years in a row has lit a fire within me that can only be extinguished with a title. I also want to shout out our good friend Callum Ilott for working so hard and diligently with us to give us the best chance possible at the Indy 8 Hour. He drove brilliantly and I hope to drive with him again in the near future. I want to extend a special thanks to my friends and family for their unwavering support, I couldn't do it without them. Now that the 2023 season is over, the 2024 season starts now.
This last weekend was a real final test for us in the 120 car. Firstly it was wonderful to have Callum join us and provide not only the pace on track, but all the laughs out of the car as well! Initially we struggled to find the pace and balance in the car but the whole Wright Motorsports team did an unbelievable job to get us in the window and able to fight. Ultimately two issues during the race took us out of the title fight in the final two hours.
Ultimately we were not able to close out the season in the way we planned, but that should not take away from the incredible season we had as a team. For both of the drivers being GT3 rookies and our head engineer being new to the role, we all grew together and exceeded our expectations by a great margin. Adam and I would have not have been able to grow as we did without the support and structure of Wright Motorsports. I cannot be more thankful to everyone at WM for the support all season and especially to Adam for the opportunity to compete at this level.
Adam, Elliot and I drove a great race. We had a lot of pace within the first half of the race. Unfortunately, some things which are out of our control, put us on the backfoot and took us out of contention of what we're challenging for. We were hoping on a yellow to bring us back into it and, unfortunately for us, there wasn't one. Overall, without those issues, I think the team did an amazing job trying to get the best we could. To be fair, I'm really, really happy with the pace and the effort everyone put into it. A big thank you for the team and big thank you for giving me the opportunity to race with them.