AUSTIN, TX (March 3, 2019) – Wright Motorsports kicked off the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America season with a quartet of podiums at Circuit of the Americas. Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove saw two third place finishes in the No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R. Anthony Imperato and Dennis Olsen took the No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche to a second and third place podium.
The Wright Motorsports crew put their endurance skills to the test on Thursday after an on-track incident with the No. 91 prompted a precautionary engine change. Park Place Motorsports graciously stepped up with a replacement out of their Dallas-based shop. After driving overnight, the team extracted the engine and got it back in time to have the No. 91 place second in practice the next morning.
Qualifying came in mixed weather conditions, where track position and traffic were key. The first of two sessions saw Long lock in fifth and Imperato take the fourth place pro/am slot for Race 1. The second session saw Olsen drive to ninth and Hargrove qualify eighth for Race 2.
- Race 1 -
The start of Race 1 saw Imperato gain two positions before the on-track action was halted with red flag conditions. At the restart, Imperato built a comfortable gap in second, while Long put pressure on the Ferarri of Molina for fourth.
The 45-minute mark, both Porsches were quick to pit, putting Hargrove behind the wheel of the No. 58 Porsche and Olsen at the controls of the No. 91. Once cycled back into the field, Hargrove had a large gap in third, as did Olsen running second in pro/am; where they ultimately ended the season opener.
- Race 2 -
Hargrove proved the No. 58 Porsche would be one to contend with after jumping five positions at the start of Race 2. The Porsche Selected Driver was having a solid run in fourth when he handed the Porsche off to Long, who cycled into second. From there, Long found himself dicing between lapped traffic and defending the final podium slot until the last lap; when he locked in another third place for himself and Hargrove.
Race 2 started in dramatic fashion for the No. 91 squad, after Olsen got turned around heading into Turn 1. Fortunately, he was able to continue and put his head down, gaining twelve positions before handing the car off to Imperato in eighth. From there, Imperato didn’t look back and drove the Henry Repeating Arms Porsche to a third-place podium in pro/am.
The Wright Motorsports team will retake the Blancpain GT World Challenge America stage April 26-28 for Rounds 3 and 4 at VIRginia International Raceway.
Patrick Long | Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R – “We made a strong debut on the opening weekend. We have some that’s left to be found, but all and all a double podium and great, consistent strategy is something we should be proud of. Our speed on track is as much as we can extract right now. We’re going to have to be there every race weekend. This car is new to us, so we’re still learning what it needs, but I think we can be happy with this result heading to VIR.”
Scott Hargrove | Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R – “We’re coming away from the weekend with a really positive feeling. I think we really maximized what we’re capable of this week. Qualifying wasn’t the best, it was in changing conditions, so we didn’t quite get the lap in, which made the races a little bit harder. The team executed flawlessly, both Patrick and I had clean stints and we were able to take it to the front. Overall you can’t really ask for much more than that in an opening weekend. We look forward to VIR and clawing back some points we lost to the race leaders."
Anthony Imperato | Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche 911 GT3 R – “Overall, the team had a great start to the season. Both cars on the podium both days is something to be proud of. We kept improving the car all weekend and we scored good points. I’m really enjoying this format of racing and driving the new Porsche 911 GT3 R. Dennis is a great teammate and I look forward to driving with him again. We will see where we can improve and try to be on the top step at VIR.”
Dennis Olsen | Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was a really good weekend. I think the whole team did a good job. We finished second yesterday and third today after being last at the start. It’s a shame we got hit today, but the crew did a very good job and so did Anthony. We improved a lot every time we went out and we’re leaving COTA second in the standings so it was a positive start to the year.