Wright Motorsports Revels in Podium Finish at Road Atlanta
BRASELTON, Ga., (September 5, 2020) – Wight Motorsports celebrated a well-earned podium finish today at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in the TireRack.com Grand Prix. The No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Ryan Hardwick, Patrick Long, and Jan Heylen had a flawless race over the course of the six hours to clinch the third position. The result netted the team its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship podium of the 2020 season.
“I’m so proud of everyone on the team for today’s result,” said Team Owner John Wright. “Each of the drivers drove so well against the competition and the incredible stops by our guys in pit lane all came together to have us contending up front. Great effort by all.”
In perfect weather conditions, Heylen started the race from third, avoiding two separate prototype incidents to keep third place as the top two positions in class traded spots. Positioned behind the No. 12 Lexus of Frankie Montecalvo, the two engaged it a tight battle for position before the strategists in the pit box ordered Heylen to hold position in order save fuel. Heylen pitted under caution after 20 minutes of running for fresh tires, fuel, and a driver change to Ryan Hardwick. The No. 16 Porsche was one of the few cars to do a full service stop, rejoining in twelfth position. Hardwick enjoyed a trouble-free stint, perfectly managing the fuel and tires while still putting up a strong fight for position.
He climbed up to ninth by the next full course caution, which saw the No. 16 gaining five spots in pit lane. As the afternoon heated up, the track became more slick and the Porsche lost track position to pit from ninth by the end of Hardwick’s stint. He completed his mandatory 90 minutes of driving in the second hour, handing the baton to Heylen.
Heylen rejoined the race, beginning hour three from 10th position. He methodically climbed back up, running consistently faster than most of the cars in class. He spent the second half of his stint reeling in the No. 14 Lexus of Daniel Morad. He caught up with and passed the Canadian driver three laps before giving the car to Patrick Long to turn his first laps. The Porsche Factory Driver took over the No. 16 911 GT3 R racer with roughly two and a half hours to go, joining in ninth. At this point in the race, the Californian was the only driver to enjoy a caution-free run, allowing him to climb up to fourth and gain over ten seconds on track during his stint.
The next caution came just moments after Long completed his shift, with Heylen rejoining the race in eighth. The majority of the GTD field pitted under the caution period, putting the group on the same fuel strategy to the end. Gaining two spots in the pits, the No. 16 Porsche restarted from sixth and continued the climb into the top three. With one hour remaining, the No. 86 of Mario Farnbacher led the No. 48 of Madison Snow, with the No. 16 close behind. The 86 was the first car to make its final stop, followed the next lap by the 48. The 1st Phorm Porsche pitted two laps later, and thanks to a speedy stop, exited pit lane ahead of the 48 to take second-place with Long back behind the wheel. However, the No. 48 of Bryan Sellers had warmer tires and a slightly lighter fuel load, allowing the Lamborghini to take the position.
In the final 60 minutes, the two raced nose-to-tail with Long putting heavy pressure on Sellers while also saving the tires for a push in the final laps. The battle intensified with every lap, but a yellow flag with 12 minutes to go paused the fight. The field closed back up for a two-lap dash to the checker flag. Though Long stayed close to Sellers, the No. 16 was unable to make the pass, but took a well-deserved third-place finish, closing out another solid points weekend for Wright Motorsports.
The Batavia, Ohio based team will race on its home turf in the next round, as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course September 27. The event will go back to the sprint format, with just Hardwick and Long sharing the driving duties for the No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche 911 GT3 R.
I enjoy racing in my home town. To have our first podium of the year here at Road Atlanta is awesome. Man, this was a team effort, for sure. Jan Heylen was a monster today. He made up a lot of positions and then Patrick pushed hard. We had a shot at second, but the restart was tough there at the end. All in all, it was a great championship points day and I was pumped to be here with my friends and family watching. I look forward to coming back here for Petit Le Mans.
It feels amazing to get up on to the podium. It has been a few weeks coming. Unfortunately, track position was the name of the game at the end. We executed the plan on an overcut, and we were able to come out of the pits in front of the 48. I did everything I could to keep Bryan Sellers behind me. In the end, that was the race for second, or maybe first. I’m not sure if the Acura was saving for the end, but he was coming back to us and we had a lot of speed in clean air. Third is where we finished, and we’ll use this as momentum for building to the end of the year. Jan was great to have this weekend, and hopefully we can get him back in the car for Petit Le Mans and Sebring International Raceway and finish this year strong.
Good day. This is exactly what we came here to do. We got good points and it was a lot of fun for me. I’m glad I was able to do my job and deliver for the team. I hope there’s more to come.