Batavia, Ohio (April 25, 2017) – Wright Motorsports looks to continue their 2017 podium streak as they bring their pair of Porsche 911 GT3 R’s to the opening rounds of the SprintX championship at VIRginia International Raceway. This weekend’s double-header will see Patrick Long reuniting with Porsche factory teammate, Jörg Bergmeister in the No. 58 GT-pro/pro entry and Belgian sports car star, Jan Heylen joining forces with Michael Schein in the No. 16 GT-pro/am Porsche.
The SprintX rounds will serve as a championship within a championship for five of the ten events on the calendar. Each of these events will see a pair of 60-minute races with one mandated pit stop, consisting only of a driver change.
“With the mandatory pit stop, we’re going to have to blend some of the endurance techniques that we already know into the SprintX championship. It’s going to be very different from the endurance format that we’re used to, but we’ll still be required to make strategy calls that we normally wouldn’t with the traditional nature of sprint racing”, said Wright Motorsports principal, John Wright.
“There’s going to be an increased amount competition this weekend, but with the depth of our driver lineups and our knowledge of these cars, we expect our Porsche 911 GT3 Rs to be a very competitive package in both classes.”
This week also marks the rekindling of a historically winning Porsche factory combination, as Bergmeister joins Long in his GT-pro/pro class Porsche. With three championships and 30 wins in their eight years as endurance teammates, the fan-favorite German and Californian pairing have every intention to pick up right where they left off.
With a second place finish in each of the opening three rounds, Schein leads the GTA driver’s championship by 6-points. He looks to capitalize on those runner-up finishes as he teams with Wright Motorsports regular and Belgian Porsche ace, Jan Heylen in the GT-pro/am category.
While it might be a new stop on the PWC schedule, each of the Wright Motorsports drivers carry their own record of success at the 3.27 mile, 17-turn road circuit. Long and Bergmeister each have had three podium finishes at VIR; one of those being in 2012, when they took a second during their last full-season as American Le Mans teammates.
The last time Schein competed in Virginia was in 2015, when he took second place in a Wright Motorsports-backed IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge entry. This podium finish was under the guidance of his then coach and now teammate, Jan Heylen who possesses years of experience driving a variety of cars at the track.
The SprintX field will take the green flag for Race 1 on Saturday at 3:30pm ET, followed by Sunday’s Race 2 at 1:15 pm ET. The 60-minute races can be seen live at world-challenge.com and on the CBS Sports Network at 6:00 pm ET, Sunday, May 7.
Patrick Long // No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It’s going to be awesome to race with the tall fellow from Bougainville once again. Jörg and I have a great past in racing and he’s a very close friend of mine. We have a pretty different background and mentality, but over the years have really gotten know one another’s strengths and weaknesses. I've learned a lot from him about what to expect from a Porsche; how to drive it up to speed, drive it aggressively and set it up. We don’t know what to expect from SprintX just yet, but we’ll take it as it comes and band together as a team. Any time you have a teammate who’s super quick, experienced and easy to deal with, you know you have a leg up on the majority of the competition, so I’m very excited about the SprintX season.”
Jörg Bergmeister // No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m really excited to be joining Patrick for the SprintX championship. We've made a lot of great memories as teammates and of course have remained in touch as friends and Porsche works teammates since then. Our biggest challenge as co-drivers was always driver changes because I’m sitting all the way in the back of the car and he’s sitting in the front. There’s never enough time to put him in a booster seat! We’ve managed that well in the past though, so we’ll take some more time to practice and we’ll be back into the old routine at VIR. I’ve raced quite a bit in the ADAC GT Masters series in Europe, so I feel like know the format of SprintX really well and already enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to the getting things started this week. “
Michael Schein // No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m really looking forward to the new challenge of SprintX. I’m also happy to be heading to a more traditional race track and VIR is a great place to kick things off. Most drivers would agree that the esses at VIR are some of the best corners around. It will be great to drive in our Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. I’m excited to get out there and drive with Jan Heylen. We both have good experience there and we will make for a strong Pro/Am pairing. It's nice to see such a deep field for the series. Hopefully we will be at the front of it!”
Jan Heylen // No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “ I’m really excited to go racing with Mike and Wright Motorsports again. The whole team is like family to me so it makes it extra special to go racing with them. It looks like it’s going to be a very competitive field. A lot of teams have brought in some really good guys for the pro/am class, so I’m excited to see how it plays out with the competition. I’m excited to get out there and hopefully come away with a good result for the team and Mike. VIR is definitely one of my favorite tracks, especially in the current GT3-spec cars. It’s always a fun track, but having that extra bit of downforce with the Porsche 911 GT3 R will make it that much better.”