Wright Motorsports Secures Heylen and Poordad Drivers’ Championship
SEBRING, Fla., (October 3, 2021) -- For the second consecutive year, the drivers of Wright Motorsports have clinched the Pro/Am Drivers’ Championship in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by aws. Fred Poordad and Jan Heylen drove the No. 20 Porsche 911 GT3 R to victory this weekend, capping off the doubleheader event at Sebring International Raceway with another champion’s trophy to add to the Wright Motorsports case.
“What a great job by everyone on our team,” said Team Owner John Wright. “I had all faith in them going into this event that we’d hit our marks and get it done. With the Drivers’ title locked in, now it’s time for us to focus on Indianapolis and close out the year with the Team Championship. We’ve got the perfect group to make it happen. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
The weekend got off to a strong start with Fred Poordad securing class pole position in race one, followed by Jan Heylen controlling the session to take overall pole position for race two. Fred Poordad led the field to green, starting from fifth-place overall behind the Pro/Pro class. He showed strong speed in his opening stint, performing well under pressure from Rodrigo Sales the No. 77 Compass Acura, and Jason Harward in the No. 88 Zelus Motorsport Lamborghini. As the race continued, the field spread out and the second-place car behind the No. 20 Wright Porsche received a drive-through penalty for causing an incident, allowing Poordad to continue to pull away from the field, leading Taylor Hagler in the Racer’s Edge Acura by 2.2 seconds. The Porsche pitted at the halfway mark, getting a full-service stop with fuel, tires, and a driver swap to Heylen. Quick work in pit lane brought the Wright Porsche back out as the class leader, running third overall. Dakota Dickerson took over from Taylor Hagler in the Racers Edge Acura, slowly reeling in Heylen. The two championship contenders raced bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door, but Heylen raced hard to hold the position while also putting heavy pressure on the slower second place Lamborghini of Dennis Lind. The final two laps of the race gave race fans and competitors a nail-biting three-way battle, resulting in Dickerson going off course and into a runoff area in a corner, forfeiting his position. Heylen cruised on to the checker flag, taking first-place in the Pro/Am class, and third-place overall. The podium finish marked the team’s 10th top-three race in 12 races.
With Jan Heylen at the wheel, the Wright Motorsports Porsche led the entire field to green on Sunday afternoon, immediately working to set a gap over the competition. He had a trouble-free stint, extending his gap to 7.6 seconds by the time the mandatory pit window opened. As the Porsche rejoined the race with Fred Poordad at the wheel, the race went to a full-course caution, bringing the field back together for the restart. With the Drivers’ Championship title in mind, Poordad took the green flag with 30 minutes remaining. As is the case with Sebring, Poordad acquired pickup on his tires as the race went back to green and lost valuable track time as a result. He cleaned off his tires and regrouped to gain lost ground, knowing he had to finish fourth-place or hire to secure the title. As he charged forward in fourth, the No. 88 of Jason Harward spun the Wright Porsche, though both cars continued. The spin bumped the No. 20 back to fifth-place, but a drive-through penalty assessed to Harward for incident responsibility brought the Porsche back up to its rightful place. Poordad ran a clean stint, bringing the No. 20 Porsche to the checker flag in fourth-position in class, securing the 2021 Drivers Championship.
The 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by aws will draw to a close in two weeks’ time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The GT World Challenge America championship will be decided based on the positions at the three-hour mark of the Indianapolis 8 Hour on Sunday, October 17. Wright Motorsports will not only be contesting for the GT World Challenge America title but also the driver and team titles in GT America with the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Charlie Luck. The event at the Racing Capital of the World will be open to the public, with weekend tickets available for $50. For full event information, www.sro-america.com.
That was a heck of a way to end the fight for the driver championship. It was not exactly the way we had hoped it would go, but we really are happy about the championship this year. That was our main goal for the whole season. It never comes easy, and I think this race highlighted that. Jan had a great stint, but on the restart, I had a bunch of pickup and clag on the tires. I really had a hard time steering the car. We couldn't hold position, but ultimately, we had to finish fourth or higher and we did. I'm happy about that, really happy to have done this with Jan this year, and a lot of gratitude to Wright Motorsports for giving us the equipment and personnel to make it all happen.
I’m super happy with the championship. We fought for it all year and are glad we got it in the bag. We can go into Indy now with a slightly different mentality and strategy. So, I am really happy about that. Good job by the team, by Fred, and everybody at Wright Motorsports for giving us a good car all year. We set out to win the championship, and that’s exactly what we did. Today could have gone a little better, but some we win, some we lose. We always knew that restart was going to be tough with all the marbles on the tires, but we'll learn from this and make sure that we come back better prepared for those conditions. Overall, I am just really happy for the team. Good job by everybody and I couldn't be happier than to be here with Fred as a good friend celebrating the championship.