This week, Wright Motorsports will hit the streets of Belle Isle for Round 4 of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship at the Detroit Grand Prix. Returning to the temporary street course for the first time since 2015, the Ohio-based group is set to bring their twin Porsche 911 GT3 Rs for the full-season pairing of Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen, as well as Mike Schein and Wolf Henzler.
The Detroit Grand Prix marks not only the lone street course, but also the shortest event on the GTD class’ 11-race calendar. The 100-minute shootout will feature the Prototype and GTD classes, with the GTLM class sitting this round out. Taking all of this into account, strategy and quick pitstops will be an important factor as the John Wright-led team takes on the 2.35 mile, 14-turn temporary street course.
The only way left to go is up for the No. 58 pairing of Long and Nielsen, who each hold a handful of second and third place finishes on Belle Isle. With no intention of breaking her streak, Nielsen has sprayed champagne after each of the last three GTD-class events in Detroit. While he hasn’t competed there since 2008, Long also has his share of success at the street course with podium finishes in 2007 and 2008.
Immediately following the checkered flag on Saturday, the duo will travel to France where they’ll meet their respective teams to prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Entering their second round in the GTD class, Schein and Henzler look to build off of the strong foundation they built at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Like Long, the last time Henzler competed in Detroit was in 2008, when he won in the ALMS GT2 class. Though new to Detroit, Schein holds previous success on street courses and already proved his knack for quick learning during his GTD debut. With that, the No. 16 duo will be ones to watch during Saturday’s street race.
Patrick Long // Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Porsche 911 GT3 R– “Detroit’s a tough street course with a little bit of everything from surface changes to bumps. The Porsches have been strong there the last couple of years so that’s definitely a confidence builder for us. We don’t have any data or recent experience, but I’m very confident in the Wright Motorsports team’s ability. We’ll go there with our heads down and hit our marks. We’ll try to have another smooth race like we did at Mid-Ohio with great strategy, fast pitstops and mistake free driving. The rest of it is out of our hands. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”
Christina Nielsen // Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Porsche 911 GT3 R – “Detroit has been very good to me in the past. I’ve gotten three podiums in the last three years, but I’m still looking for a victory. It’s definitely a track I enjoy. It’s gotten a little bit bumpier over the years, but that’s a part of the challenge of street courses; dealing with surfaces that aren’t meant to raced on year-round. Qualifying, quick pitstops and getting a good start will all be important because it’s hard to pass on street circuits.
I’m also excited to show around some girls that I met at the all girls’ school in Detroit when I was there for a media day with IMSA and Penske. It’s great that Comerica Bank has helped them to come out and see what we do. I’m very much looking forward to the weekend.”
Mike Schein // Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m really looking forward to racing on the streets of Detroit at Belle Isle. It’s a new track for me so I’m hoping to get up to speed quickly. I really enjoyed my first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with Wright Motorsports in our Porsche 911 GT3 R at Mid Ohio. Wolf has been a great teammate and mentor and we will look to finish further up the leaderboard at Detroit. Traffic should be a bit easier to manage with only two classes racing and some longer straights for the prototypes to pass. I was able to run some laps while the team was testing at Watkins Glen this past week so I will be fresh come Practice 1 on Friday. I can’t wait to get things started!”
Wolf Henzler // Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m really looking forward to heading back to Detroit with Wright Motorsports and Mike Schein. Mid-Ohio was all about getting to know each other and looking after other things like getting in a good driver change. Now that we have a routine and the team knows what we need, I’m confident that we’ll be very strong at Detroit. I love driving at street courses and Detroit is one of my favorite ones. The fact that the race will be shorter than Mid-Ohio will make everything much different strategy-wise. There will only be one pitstop so it’s going to be important get in a quick stop in order to keep the car in a good track position.”
Source. Wright Motorsports