SONOMA, CA (September 18, 2017) – Everything was at stake for Wright Motorsports as they rolled into the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season finale at Sonoma Raceway leading each of the remaining GT championship chases. After two high-pressure sprint races, the group locked in both the Overall and Sprint Driver’s Championships for Patrick Long, the Manufacturer’s Championship for Porsche and the Team Championship.
After two encouraging practice sessions, Long qualified in the fifth place slot for Race 1. To add to the tension, his primary championship threat Alvaro Parente of K-Pax Racing was set to start in seventh, right behind the No. 58 Porsche.
After an incident between two competitors at the start, Long was able to advance to fourth. 15-minutes in, he fell back to fifth after his position was overtaken by Parente, lighting a fire under the Porsche factory driver. As Parente went to pick off both Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Mancinelli, Long didn't waste a second let him out of his sight and did the same. He fought his way up to third place and despite a charging Pierre Kaffer, managed hold onto it to the checker. This result was enough for Long to seal the deal and clinch both the Overall Driver’s and Manufacturer’s championship.
Championship was still the word as the group entered Race 2 leading the GT Sprint and Team titles by a slim margin over Parente and K-Pax Racing. Long already had a leg up on the competition having turned a lap in Race 1 that earned him the pole position. At the start of the race, he fell back to second only to go straight under caution for a mid-pack incident involving none other than fellow title contender, Parente. When the green flag returned, the Californian found himself in fierce battle for the lead with Michael Cooper while defending his position from Pierre Kaffer. After 35-minutes of tight racing, Long was able to maintain his second place slot and lock up both the GT Sprint and Team titles.
With a qualifying lap that was quick enough to break a GTA track record and put him on pole by 1.5 seconds over the rest of the GTA field, Schein was prepared to make a statement. He did just that in Race 1 as he was able to dice it up among the top-10 cars in GT and pull through with a flag-to-flag win in GTA.
Schein was poised for another strong run in Race 2 when it took an unfortunate turn early on. While under caution after the start, he was running comfortably in his first place starting position when a drivetrain failure occurred, forcing an early retirement for the No. 16. In addition to his second place SprintX Pro/Am championship this set Schein to finish out the GTA Sprint season sitting fourth in the points standings.
Along with their championship run, Wright Motorsports will look back on an exceptional 2017 season with nine wins, seventeen additional podiums and nine pole positions earned between their two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs.
John Wright // Wright Motorsports Team Principal – “I am so proud of everyone involved with this program. We started off this season knowing that we had some "unfinished business" to take care of from the previous year and here we are! We did it. I want to thank Porsche for providing such a great support system that allows customer teams like us to make this possible. Patrick Long's winning determination is also a reason we are here. I want to thank him for all he does for us on and off the track. Jörg Bergmeister and Marc Lieb were fantastic to have on board and I also want to thank them for helping us to make this championship possible. It’s been an incredible season.”
Patrick Long // No. 58 Wright Motorsports/Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R -“It’s been a magical weekend for Wright Motorsports and Porsche. The Overall and Manufacturer’s championship is what we set out to win and I wouldn’t have imagined being able to close it out with one round remaining. It’s been a long wait since the end of last year when we came so close. Everyone at Wright and Porsche put their heads down and came to the track prepared every single weekend this season.
To finish with a double podium on a high stakes, high-pressure weekend is a different type of test for a driver. We could’ve come into this and taken ‘intentional walks’ of mid-pack finishes to capitalize on the overall, but that is not us. To come out and race hard to try and win the Sprint and Team championship really feels good. The guys at Wright Motorsports put in tireless hours this year. During the race week, they’re here long after the drivers leave and long before we show up. These guys deserve to be up there on the stage to join in the celebration and closing the deal on the team championship was the best way to do that."
Michael Schein // No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R - “It was an unfortunate ending to the season, but I’m obviously very happy with our winning result from Race 1. It was a lot of fun to mix it up with all of the guys up front. We had the pace to finish in the top ten again in Race 2, but unfortunately couldn’t show that. Jan and I had a strong SprintX season as well. The multi-driver concept was a new experience for me and I had a lot of fun driving with him this year. We had a lot of success and unfortunate luck on our side this season, but that’s racing. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t. Now we’ll have to see how the schedule looks for next year and hope that we can come back to do it again.”