ALTON, Vir., (June 20, 2022) – After entering the Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS event at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) with high hopes and a strong race car, the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 R team Wright Motorsports celebrated yet another podium and a top-five finish, continuing their assault on the 2022 Pro/Am class championship points battle.
“With a second and fourth-place finish, we were able to earn a lot of valuable points toward our goal of fighting at the front when we reach the end of the year,” said Team Owner John Wright. “We love VIR. It’s not only a beautiful circuit with great staff, but it’s a home track for Charlie Luck, and we always have an enthusiastic crowd cheering us on here.”
Luck started race one in sixth place in the Pro/Am class, tucked behind the No. 08 Mercedes of Scott Smithson. An early full course caution kept the pair close, and as the field went back to green, a sizable crash sent cars in all directions. Luck took advantage, settling into third place as the next caution appeared. He ended his session in second place, pitting during the mandatory 10-minute window at the halfway point for the No. 45 to undergo a driver change. Heylen held the position for the entirety of his stint, celebrating the pair’s third top-five finish in six races.
In race two, the roles reversed, and Charlie Luck watched the start of the race from pit lane while Heylen took the green flag from seventh in class in the red, green, and yellow Porsche. Despite being pushed wide by another car on the start, Heylen took second place before a full-course caution interrupted the race. Shortened by yellow flags, Heylen had little time to race, but made the most of his stint, putting heavy pressure on the No. 63 Mercedes of Dirk Muller. He pitted the No. 45 Porsche from sixth place as pit stops began to cycle through, and with 34 minutes remaining, Luck joined the race, aided by the always consistently speedy work of his crew. The expert pit stop leapfrogged two positions as it exited pit lane, joining the race in fourth place. Ashton Harrison led George Kurtz and Luck as the stops cycled through, with just 32 minutes left on the race clock. Luck quickly closed a five-second gap to Kurtz, wasting no time to apply heavy pressure to the No. 04 Mercedes. The two gave it all they had, engaging in a gripping battle for position. The rear tires of the Porsche snapped while Luck charged the Mercedes, resulting in the Richmond native spinning off track. After a masterful save, he rejoined with five minutes remaining, earning a fourth-place finish.
Rounds seven and eight of the 2022 championship will take place at another fan-favorite road course, the legendary Watkins Glen International in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, July 22-24. The event will mark the halfway point in the 14-round season. For more information, visit wrightmotorsports.com.
We got off super lucky today and finished fourth after sliding going into Turn 10 when the rear end just snapped on me. I don't know if I got over in the marbles a little bit, but I've never had this car snap like that, and we went into a 170-mph slide. We were really lucky because the car never dug in, and it never rolled. It could have been catastrophic, so we got off super lucky today. We were running close, with positions one two and three nose-to-tail most of the race. The man upstairs looked after us today for sure.
Yesterday we started 10th or 11th and worked our way up to second. I turned it over to Jan in second and I was really happy with the drive yesterday. Franky, I was super happy with the drive today. It's just one of those things that we'll look at the video to see what the issue was. Overall, we had a really good weekend to be second and fourth considering where we started. I think we walk out of here and count our blessings.
Fourth place is obviously not the result we deserve here today. Given what happened at the end to the Acura, we could have had a win here. We lost some points, but that's part of the learning curve and part of what we're here to do. It was still a good weekend overall, given where we qualified, still good points for the championship, and we're going to learn from this and do better at the next one. Great job by the team today on the pitstop; we jumped two cars in pit lane, so it was awesome.