If no one ever had bad luck, would there ever be any luck? Wright Motorsports saw the worst of it at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, after a promising weekend turned into a ninth place finish for the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen and an early retirement for the No. 16 Porsche of Michael Schein and Wolf Henzler.
From the first practice session, the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Rs showed competitive pace, proving that they would be ones to contend with at the Canadian road-course. Qualifying was the highlight of the weekend as Schein locked in his personal best starting position in fifth place and Nielsen took the eighth place slot.
At the start of the race, Schein and Nielsen both settled into their positions and drove a steady, clean race- until trouble began to strike. Schein was running in fifth when an overly-optimistic move made by a competitor sent the Porsche off course in Turn 5, knocking him back two laps.
It didn’t take long for the New Yorker to find his pace, but just as he did, things went south for both Porsches. Schein was carrying speed into Turn 5 and despite his attempt to avoid it, made slight contact with Nielsen, sending her off course. Fortunately, Nielsen was able to continue, but at this point she was down a lap and knocked to the back of the field.
From there, the two continued to pound down consistent times within the top-ten before pitting and welcoming Long to the controls of the No. 58 Porsche and Henzler aboard the No. 16.
Unfortunately, the poor luck wasn’t over just yet. Henzler was having a great run amidst the circumstances, when a fuel pressure issue struck, ultimately forcing the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R into an early retirement.
At this point, there were 45-minutes left on the clock and all eyes were on Long. The Porsche works driver was having a strong stint in ninth place, when a misjudgment involving a competitor resulted in a drive-through penalty for the Porsche. Long was able to fight his way back onto the lead lap, but unfortunately, the sequence of cautions didn’t allow him to battle back from where he ultimately finished, in ninth place.
In light of Sunday’s results, the Ohio-based team also had the privilege of working in a different kind of “fast-paced” environment, for the the movie adaption of New York Times bestseller, “The Art of Racing in The Rain”. The weekend saw the team’s pitbox double as a live movie set as the Wright Motorsports team and the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R took part in filming under the direction of Patrick Dempsey and Jeff Zwart. Additionally, Long sported the helmet design of the lead character, Denny Swift – played by Milo Ventimiglia- during the race in an effort to collect in-car stunt footage for the film.
Wright Motorsports will be back for Round 7 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Lime Rock Park, July 20-21.
Patrick Long // Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “There is no positive spin on this race or any of the races of recent time; we’re in a bit of a slump, but the tides will turn. Unfortunately, we got tangled up with our teammate early in the race and that set us off sequence. Through a couple of lucky breaks, we were coming through the field with new tires and I went for a maneuver in the final corner. I thought the driver in front of me was working with me, knowing we were on different strategies, but we made contact and that was completely on my shoulders and my responsibility. The hit set us back, but we were still within a lap of going back onto the lead lap and having a battle at the end. The caution came a second too late and we settled for ninth. We will move onto Lime Rock and hope for a better result.”
Christina Nielsen // Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting/Porsche Digital Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was a very challenging weekend for us. With the track temperatures and conditions changing before the race, it was hard to match the great setup that I had in the morning warmup. Unfortunately, our final results don’t reflect the team highlights that are found within every race weekend. Mike apologized for the incident and I’m happy to say that we sorted it out within the team. Everyone makes mistakes, but unfortunately that doesn’t bring back results- so of course we’re disappointed. The team’s pitstops and race strategy were absolutely amazing and it’s like that every race weekend. There are elements that are really well done, whether it’s with the drivers, the car, pitstops or strategy. We just haven’t had a race where we put it all together and had a bit of luck- because you need a little bit of luck to have a victory within the competitive GTD class.”
Michael Schein // Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “That was definitely a weekend to forget after a pretty strong qualifying run. I settled into fifth nicely at the start, then the Acura tagged me coming out of Turn 5 and I spun around into the grass. I had trouble putting the car into reverse, so we lost two laps there. Then I got going again and unfortunately made contact with Christina in the 58 car, so that obviously wasn’t good for myself, her or the team – you definitely never want to hit your own teammate. Then we had a fuel pressure issue that forced us to retire. Let’s move onto Lime Rock and hope we can continue the speed we showed this weekend.”
Wolf Henzler // Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R – “That was definitely not a good weekend for everyone at Wright Motorsports. The team did a great job and we had a really good car, but unfortunately the race didn’t work in our favor. Mike drove really well, kept his position and a good pace. Then another car made an overly aggressive move on him and we spun, which caused us to loose two laps. Then in the end, I got in the car and we made up one lap under caution. Unfortunately, after that, we had a fuel pressure issue and had to park the car. We’ll move on and hope that Lime Rock is better for us.”