The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will kick off this weekend with the 56th running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Wright Motorsports is carrying high momentum into the twice around the clock event with full season drivers, Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen set to join Mathieu Jaminet and Robert Renauer behind the wheel of the No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
This marks Wright Motorsport’s return to the endurance stage after a two-year hiatus to sprint racing. While they’re most recently known for their championship-winning success in the Pirelli World Challenge, the Ohio-based squad carries decades of endurance racing experience. Since founded in 2000, the John Wright-led team has seen four Rolex 24 podiums, including a third place following their last run in 2015.
Patrick Long enters the weekend prepared for what will be his fifteenth consecutive Rolex 24 and fifteenth year as a Porsche factory driver. Since his first attempt in 2004, the Californian has seen a class victory  and three podiums [2006, 2010, 2016] at the 24-hour classic. With three seasons and the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge title to vouch for, Long has already proven to be hugely competitive a Wright Motorsports Porsche. He looks to combine that momentum with his endurance experience in a fight for triumph.
New to Wright Motorsports, but no stranger to IMSA success is reigning back-to-back GT Daytona champion, Christina Nielsen. This will mark the Dane’s first time back in a Porsche at Daytona since her maiden attempt in 2014. Having taken part in four Rolex 24 Hours and two Le Mans 24 Hours, Nielsen knows what it takes to win a 24-hour event. She plans on doing just that in her first race with Wright Motorsports.
Bringing heaps of endurance racing experience to the team is the 2016 Porsche Cup winner, Robert Renauer. The German has taken part in the Rolex 24 three times; twice in a Porsche [2007, 2013] and once teamed with Nielsen in 2016. Though he’s yet to see a victory at the Florida circuit, Renauer is a known 24-hour stalwart. In 2017 alone, he secured four wins out of six 24 Hour Series races behind the wheel of his family-operated team, Herberth Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Quickly climbing up the sports car ranks is Porsche Young Professional, Mathieu Jaminet, who joins the team for his first Rolex 24. Though new to Daytona, the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup France champion brings a great wealth of Porsche racing knowledge to the team, including 24-hour experience. In fact, just after this month’s Roar, Jaminet took a Porsche 911 GT3 R to second place at the 24 Hours of Dubai.
Patrick Long // Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “Daytona definitely knocks the rust right off and teaches you about patience and discipline not only as a driver, but as a teammate to the whole organization. You spend so many days at the track talking about speed and one lap pace, but when the sun comes up on Sunday, that’s when the real race begins. We just have to position ourselves for that moment and hope we’re there to fight- I’m confident that we will be. We have to be smart because there are two agendas- the race and the full season. It’s easy to get drawn into little battles during the race, especially on restarts. It takes a lot of discipline to fight the nature of wanting to go door-to-door early on in the race. There’s going to be a lot of prototypes and a lot of competition in our class, but the b-factor is always the GTLM cars. They have a really tough job at a track like this, where they don’t have a lot of straight-line speed and there aren’t a lot of high-speed corners where their aero pays off. They really have to manage traffic forcefully, which will be a big factor for us as well. That’s what makes endurance racing exciting. I’m really happy to be back full-time in IMSA and looking forward to starting off the season strong.”
Christina Nielsen // Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “Daytona is a classic 24-hour race in the sense that consistency and making it through the night are the key factors for a good result. Traditionally, the worst drama is over when the sun comes up, but as I learned last year, it’s a 24-hour race and anything can happen. This year we’re starting from scratch with a new season, a new team and a new manufacturer. I look forward to being back with the Wright Motorsports guys. I think the Roar was a great opportunity for us to get to know each other much better so that we can go into the race week as a team. It’s always a special event. In the middle of the night you’re exhausted and thinking ‘what are we doing here?’, but once the race is over you’re sad because that means there’s another 365 days before you can do it again. I’m excited to get the season started.”
Robert Renauer // Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R– “I’m very excited to get back to Daytona this week. For me the most important thing in any 24-hour race is to focus on putting the car in a good position for the last 3 hours. There are a lot of prototypes, so this will be a lot about traffic management, especially in the beginning hours of the race. Our goal will be to stay out of trouble so we’ll have a perfect car to fight with at the end. I know the Wright Motorsports team has worked very hard since the Roar, so I’m confident that we will have a strong car for the race!”
Mathieu Jaminet // Driver, No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m very excited to be joining Wright Motorsports for my first Daytona 24. As any 24 hour race, the biggest factors will be to save the brakes and fuel because you need the car to stay in it’s best shape so you can be quick in the end. One of the biggest challenges is going to be placed on the team as a whole. Every second counts and pit stops will be very important, especially when it comes down to the last few hours. I think we are very well prepared and am looking forward to starting the race.”
Source. Wright Motorsports