Continuity is very important in the world of professional sports. Wright Motorsports is pleased that four of its IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama drivers from 2016 will return to the team and the series in 2017 beginning with the season-opening doubleheader this Thursday and Friday at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. A fifth plans to return to the team later in the season, and a sixth driver is making his first start with the team in the 45-minute races at Sebring.
Andrew Longe of Naples, Fla., who finished third in the point standings of the top division, Platinum Cup, last year, is back with the Trianon Hotels #47. He had two fifth-place finishes at Sebring last year. He was just three points out of second place in the 2016 championship, and he’s hungry for more.
So is young McKay Snow of Lehi, Utah, who placed sixth in the championship with his UIS #63 as he follows in the footsteps of his accomplished father, mother and older brother. He had one sixth at Sebring last year.
Anthony Imperato of Brooklyn, N.Y., who was ninth in last year’s championship in his rookie season and showed steady improvement, is also looking forward to a breakout season with his Henry Repeating Arms #91. He finished tenth in both races last year on Sebring’s historic but bumpy 3.74-mile, 17-turn road course.
Philip Bloom of New York City, who finished third in the 2016 Gold Cup championship driving for Wright Motorsports, steps up to the Platinum class this year with his #11, which is sponsored by Tradewind Aviation and the Philip Bloom Gallery. He had a fifth and a third in Gold Cup at Sebring last March.
New to the team this year is Charles Luck IV of Richmond, Va., who will represent the Batavia, Ohio-based team in the Gold Cup class. He will also run for Masters class honors in that division.
Popular Fred Poordad of San Antonio, Texas, hopes to return to the cockpit of his Wright Motorsports-prepared AXA Financial Advisors #20 by mid-season. He was injured last month while competing in the Bathurst 12 Hour in Australia with another team.
Practice takes place from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday and 8:55 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. on Thursday. Qualifying is set for 1:05 p.m. to 1:25 p.m.Thursday afternoon, followed by Round 1 at 5:45 p.m. Round 2 is scheduled for 11:55 a.m. Friday. All times are Eastern. Live timing and scoring for every session is planned for imsa.com, with live streaming video of the races at imsa.tv.
After Sebring, the series will conduct doubleheaders at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. April 21-23; Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y. June 29-July 2; Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Aug. 3-Aug.6; Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., Aug. 25-Aug. 27; Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Sept. 15-17, and Road Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., Oct. 4-Oct. 7.
Andrew Longe, Naples, Fla.: “I am very honored and grateful to be under the Wright Motorsports tent for another season. Our goal for the 2017 season is to win the championship, and that is what we plan on doing. The team and I have put in a great deal of work this off-season to prepare and to be able to hit the ground running in Sebring. We are functioning at the highest level that we ever have before, and I know that will translate into our on-track performance and we will have multiple wins this season.”
Philip Bloom, New York City: “My goal for the 2017 season is to win the overall championship by qualifying with blistering pace and racing clean, and consistently to be at the sharp end of the field all season long.
“The keys to doing well at Sebring are to maximize the grip on the track, staying with the track as it rubbers in, and minimizing driving mistakes. I love racing at Sebring, mainly because it marks the start of the new season but also because it’s one of the few tracks where the pavement feels alive. Much of the original surface is still intact, and that creates a unique experience unlike any of the other tracks we race. The heat, the bumps, the history; those are the main ingredients that make this track so fun to race.
“New for 2017 is my move up to Platinum and the 991.2. We’ve tested a lot during the off-season and I have to say I immediately felt comfortable in the car. The Yokohama tires are excellent, and Porsche has really outdone itself with the new car. The increased power, reliability, and serviceability of the 991.2 make it the benchmark spec race car.
“During the off-season I dedicated a great deal of time with my new partner, EZIA Fitness, to improve my fitness and diet to prepare for the increased speed and competition we are going to face this year. I’ve also spent a good amount of time with Jeff Segal of GPXLab testing at his simulator facility in Miami, Florida. The simulation time and coaching Jeff provides is invaluable when real-world testing time is limited. There are a lot of young, up-and-coming drivers to compete with this year, so fitness and track testing is going to play a big role in my success.”
Charlie Luck, Richmond, Va.: “It has been 30 years since I competed on a full-time basis in the NASCAR Busch series in the mid-eighties. My goals for 2017 are to develop a feel for the race car that allows me to have confidence driving it on the edge; to develop the mental and physical capability to deliver consistent lap times that are competitive in the Gold Masters class; to compete in all seven race weekends and to become familiar with these tracks that I have never raced on, and to have fun with racing, the team, and the other drivers.
I have never raced at Sebring, but I have heard about it since I was a boy. I believe that the keys to the track are brake pressure, adapting to the changing conditions, and managing my mind.
[In response to a question about his previous racing experience] “I started off racing motocross when I was 12. I did that until I was about 17, racing 20 races per year. I then went on to do late model sportsman for three years, and NASCAR Busch series [now NASCAR Xfinity series] racing for the following four years. I raced 30 races per year, which is a total of 16,190 laps, and I finished in the top 10 in two of those years.
“I’ve tested at COTA, Barber and Sebring, and competed in PBOC [PBOC Motorsports Club] to prepare for this year and Sebring. I’m looking forward to being a part of the program!”
Source. Restart Communications/Photo. Porsche