Although he’s a rookie in the Pirelli World Challenge series and its GTA class, Wright Motorsports’ Michael Schein made the railbirds sit up and take notice last weekend at the season opener at Circuit of the Americas. Driving the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, he was second or third in all the practice sessions, qualified second, and finished on the podium by placing third in his first race ever in the series on Saturday.
Anthony Imperato was a late addition to the Wright Motorsports squad at COTA but the driver from Bayonne, N.J. took home a fifth and a sixth-place finish in the GT Cup class for a solid first effort too with his Henry Rifles #91. The doubleheader on the 3.4-mile, 20-turn road course was part of the Nissan Grand Prix of Texas presented by VP Racing Fuels.
Schein, of Glen Cove, N.Y., started second in the GTA class in the first 50-minute race on Saturday thanks to a qualifying time of 2:08.698 on Friday. Another driver got the jump at the start and pushed Schein back to third before a full-course caution waved on lap two.
He pounced on the restart on lap four and regained second place, but his rival was right on his rear bumper. That driver finally got around Schein working lap nine. Schein kept the pressure up as he tried to regain the position, but he was hampered by a GT car that got between him and the driver who was second in class. Two laps later Schein passed the GT car, but at that point the field was getting spread out.
When the checkered waved on lap 23 Schein had a podium finish of third in class in his very first Pirelli World Challenge race, and he was only 0.579 of a second behind second.
Imperato qualified sixth in the GT Cup class for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars on Friday with a time of 2:14.769, but he got to start fifth in Saturday’s race after another driver was put to the rear after qualifications for an infraction. Imperato avoided getting involved in an early fracas around him, but he lost one position at the start and stayed in sixth the rest of the way.
He set his fastest lap of the race on lap seven with a 2:15.550. He was about 4 seconds behind fifth place at the end, and a whopping 12.62 seconds ahead of the seventh place driver.
Schein started third in class in Sunday’s race. After an early yellow flag he passed the driver who started second. He set his fastest lap of the race on lap five with a time of 2:09.67. Unfortunately with about 20 minutes remaining he suffered a freak mechanical issue and he had to retire with only 13 laps complete.
Imperato started sixth in the GT Cup class on Sunday but he immediately passed the driver who started one position ahead of him before the first and only full-course caution waved. Imperato set his fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:14.610 and continued to hit his marks until the checkered waved for a top-five finish.
Wright Motorsports will also be in action March 16-18 when it begins its defense of its 2015 championships in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series in Sebring, Fla. Those 45-minute races are listed to start at 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 and at 9:10 a.m. on Friday, March 18, on the preliminary event schedule. The doubleheader supports the 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.
For more information on Wright Motorsports, see WrightMotorsports.com and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.
Post-race quotes follows:
Michael Schein: “Solid first weekend at COTA. Got third in GTA in the first race. In race two we were running pretty well when I had a flat in Turn 19. We put another tire on and went back out, but then I got another flat. There was a mechanical failure that was causing a bolt to crack the inside of the rim, causing the tire to deflate.
“I enjoyed my first race with PWC. Both the team and I have a lot to learn with the new car. We’re looking forward to going to Barber with more knowledge and speed.”
Anthony Imperato: “I think it was a productive weekend getting seat time in the Cup car. The car is still new to me, and COTA is a tricky place in the car.
“I know every time the car rolls off the trailer it’s in the window and ready to go, so it’s up to me to perform. P6 and P5 are not where we want to be running, but that will improve with time.
“I’m looking forward to the IMSA season opener for GT3 Cup at Sebring. Thank you to Henry Repeating Arms and Wright Motorsports for making it happen.”
About Wright Motorsports:
Wright Motorsports is the premier Porsche race engineering facility in Ohio and a multi-series, international racing team known for superb car preparation, expert race strategy and driver development. Located in Batavia, Ohio near Cincinnati, it is owned and directed by John Wright, a certified Porsche factory-trained technician. As a crew chief John Wright has played a key role in winning nine driver and seven team championships in World Challenge, IMSA (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Rolex Series. Wright Motorsports won the team championship in Porsche GT3 Cup USA in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In 2014 it had four podium finishes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. For more information see WrightMotorsports.com and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.
Source. Restart Communications