The newly renamed Blancpain GT World Challenge America season will kick off this weekend with Rounds 1 and 2 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Wright Motorsports will carry high momentum into their championship return with the No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long and Scott Hargrove and the No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche of Anthony Imperato and Dennis Olsen.
“I am looking forward to getting this season underway,” said Wright Motorsports Principal, John Wright. “It has been a long winter and I am ready for some excitement! Both of our Porsche 911 GT3 Rs have stellar driver pairings and a great team behind them. Having the support of world class companies such as Porsche Consulting, Henry Repeating Arms, and Porsche Motorsport North America says that we are here to win races! As a team, we’ve already proven that we’re capable of competing for this championship, so we’re eager to come back strong with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R.”
This event marks the 2017 Overall and Sprint championship winner’s return to the SRO America stage after a one-year hiatus competing in the IMSA series. The Texas showdown will feature two extended 90-minute sprint races. This new format will allow Wright Motorsport’s endurance experience to shine with the addition of full-scale pitstops— including tire changes, live refueling and driver changes.
Both drivers of the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R have seen their share of success around the 3.427-mile road course. Long has two Circuit of the Americas victories to his name, both in SRO America competition [2016, 2017]. Just last season, Hargrove earned a GT-class podium in what was not only his first time at the COTA but his first time sharing a car with a co-driver.
The season opener will see Porsche Young Professional and recent Bathurst 12 Hour winner, Dennis Olsen join forces with Imperato in the No. 91 Henry Rifles Porsche. The Norwegian is set to split the second seat of the entry with Matt Campbell following a ruling change with Imperato’s driver ranking that prevents Romain Dumas from continuing in the pro/am program. Though new to most SRO America fans, the 22-year old will be returning to familiar territory having taken part in the 2017 24 Hours of COTA, where he saw a podium in his first event on North American soil.
Preparing for his first full season of GT3 competition, Imperato looks to capitalize on the foundation he started, driving to three SRO America podiums in 2018. The New Yorker knows this circuit all too well, having successfully run Wright Motorsports prepared Porsches at COTA in both the 2018 24 Hours of COTA and the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge.
Patrick Long | Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m excited to kick off the season and to be back in SRO America. The objective for us remains the same; to go out and try to win the championship as we did in 2017. It’s great to see a full, stacked grid with a mix of drivers I’ve race hard against and drivers who I haven’t shared the track with. COTA is a track that has evolved a lot over the last couple of years, so the challenge of bumps and varied grip on the surface is something all of the team’s will share.
I’m looking forward to joining Scott this year. He’s definitely an up and coming star and I know we’ll make a great combination as teammates. Having Porsche Consulting back for a fourth year is also very exciting. Norman Firchau and his team are always enthusiastic and welcomed at the track. We always learn a lot both on and off the track about what they do for businesses like Wright Motorsports.”
Scott Hargrove | Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was nice to test the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R before the race weekend. The team is a great group, with a solid understanding of what the car needs. COTA is a difficult track to set the car up for, with a combination of high-speed corners, low speed corners, and bumps. We’ve already worked through many set up changes to build a database of what this car likes. The race is coming up quick and I’m excited to see the team’s preparation put into action!”
Anthony Imperato | Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche 911 GT3 R – “After two productive days of testing at COTA I feel confident going into the race weekend. We’ve learned a lot about the new car and left the test in a good place. We will be pushing all weekend and looking to leave with as many points as we can. COTA is always a fun track to race at with a lot of good passing opportunities. I’m looking forward to getting the season started.”
Dennis Olsen | Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Porsche 911 GT3 R – “I’m really looking forward to joining Wright Motorsports and Anthony Imperato at COTA. Everything will be a bit new with not only a new team and new championship, but a new car which is always exciting. The plan is to get into a good flow from the beginning and I’m confident that it will work out very well. I’ve done a 24-hour race at COTA before so I’ve definitely had quite a few laps there. I really like the track; it’s fast and flowing with a very technical last sector. The first part of the track is the most demanding for me, as you really need to be on point with the setup to be quick through the chicane sections. I’m excited to get started!”
Source. Wright Motorsports