Everyone has their days at the race track- champions included. Unfortunately, the California Eight-Hour proved to be one of those days for Wright Motorsports as a refueling issuing forced an early retirement on the highly regarded No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long, Jörg Bergmeister and Romain Dumas.
After three encouraging sessions early in the week, things were looking positive for the John Wright-led group. Come time for the Super Pole session, Long was drafted into the seat where he earned a strong third place starting position for the race.
With the length of the race in mind, Long kept it clean and conservative at the start. He was able to maintain his third place starting slot before sliding back to fifth an hour in. Challenges began to present themselves following an equipment malfunction during the first two pit stops. Despite losing a significant amount of time on the track, both Dumas and Bergmeister also managed to hang onto fifth place throughout their first stints.
The tension was heightened at the halfway mark. Bergmeister entered the pits at the same time as the overall leader bringing a head-to-head battle. The team was able to execute a flawless stop, allowing Long to beat the Audi out of the pits and remain on the lead lap.
Unfortunately, the string of bad luck that showed itself earlier was far from over. Long pitted for a full service stop and handed the Wright Motorsports Porsche off to Bergmeister. Following the stop, the team discovered an issue with the fuel hose head which prevented the car from taking fuel. This forced the German back into the pits for the problem to be evaluated and the car to be refueled. Despite turning the quickest race times consistently, the issue carried on for the two hours to follow, which ultimately set the car back three laps.
Right at the seven-hour mark, Dumas was in for his second stint when the car ran out of fuel on track. The Porsche works driver was able to coast into the pits where the crew worked to diagnose the problem. After attempting to refuel for the final time, the Porsche would not take fuel, resulting in a forced retirement.
Despite this weekend’s disappointing circumstances, the Wright Motorsports team will enter the offseason in high spirits with the current Pirelli World Challenge Overall, Sprint, Team, and Manufacturer’s titles to their name. Like any unfortunate day at the track the Ohio-based operation will take this weekend and evaluate the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with their focus on returning even stronger in 2018.
John Wright // Owner, Wright Motorsports – I wanted the best of results for Patrick, Jörg and Romain, as this was such an incredible lineup and each of them showed great speed in the car all week. However, even with an all-star driver line up, and good speed in the car you can’t underestimate the whole package it takes to be competitive when you endurance race. Some of the best teams have bad days at the race track and we found ourselves having one of those days. We had equipment issues which we just could not rebound from in the end, but not for the lack of trying by the my team. When the equipment performed as it should the team showed that we could perform competitive pits stops. One highlight for us came during the middle of the race we were able to beat the overall leader out of pit lane when we both came in together. We will go back to the shop to correct these issues and come back as strong as we alway are and as a championship winning team always does. I want to thank Porsche Motorsports for this opportunity and I can’t wait to be back here next year to show what we really can do at this eight hour race.
Patrick Long // Driver, No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I think the whole Wright Motorsports group should be proud. We battled back from some hurdles to get back onto the lead lap. It’s unfortunate that in the end our day was cut short, but we’re hoping to be back the next time the California Eight Hours rolls around. Congratulations to Magnus on a hard fought victory.”
Jörg Bergmeister // Driver, No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was definitely not the race we hoped for. Towards the end it was really good to see that we found our performance when the track rubbered in, but unfortunately we didn’t finish and therefore are very disappointed.”
Romain Dumas // Driver, No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It’s a shame to end up like that. We had a nice weekend and the car kept getting better and better. Unfortunately, during the race we had a fuel rig issue which was a shame because we were starting to show a very good pace. It’s very tough for the team, but sometimes it’s a part of the job.
Source. Carlin Sanderson