Rounds three and four of the 2019 SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship saw Porsche Motorsport customer teams Alegra Motorsports and Wright Motorsports add to the early success of the latest 911 GT3 R. The pair of 90-minute races for GT3-spec machines came at the 3.27-mile, 18-turn natural terrain road course in Southern Virginia on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29. When the final checkered flag fell on Sunday, Porsche customers had stood on the GT podium four times – once on Saturday and three-times on Sunday. The success strengthens the German marque’s position in the SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America Manufacturer point standings.
The first to take a podium was the No. 24 Alegra Motorsports Porsche shared by veteran Porsche drivers Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Marco Holzer (Germany). The pair of former factory drivers piloted the rear-engine 911 GT3 R to second-place in Saturday’s Race 1. They were the highest finishing Porsche ahead of their teammates Michael De Quesada (Tampa, Florida) and Daniel Morad (Canada) in the No. 22 Alegra machine who were rewarded with fourth-place in the Pro class. The No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports car of factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Porsche Selected Driver Scott Hargrove (Canada) fought for the lead throughout most of Saturday’s event before, in the closing stages of the race, Hargrove went off in the “Oak Tree” corner damaging the front of the Porsche. When the checkered flew, the duo was in fifth-place in Pro class.
Following late-night repairs, the No. 58 was ready for Sunday’s midday feature event and all five Porsche race cars took their earned positions on the grid for Race 2. At the conclusion of the main event on the track near the North Carolina border, Porsche had three top-three finishes on two class podiums and three of the top-four with four cars in the top-eight overall and all five running at the checkered flag.
Wright Motorsports was rewarded for its late-night efforts. The Long/Hargrove pairing challenged the race-winning Bentley Continental GT3 all the way to the finish bringing home second-place in the No. 58. Chasing their fellow Porsche runners, the two 510 horsepower Alegra Motorsports entries finished in third and fourth-place. The No. 24 earned its second podium of the weekend with Henzler/Holzer in third-place. Porsche Young Driver Academy graduates and 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona GTD class-winners De Quesada/Morad finished in fourth-place – their best result of the season to-date. After losing drive in Race 1 and not finishing, the No. 91 Wright Motorsports Porsche of Anthony Imperato (Brooklyn, New York) and Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell (Australia) crossed the finish line in third-place in the Pro-Am class. K2R Motorsports continues to learn the No. 38 Porsche 911 GT3 R with open wheel veteran Alex Barron (San Diego, California) guiding Kevan Millstein through the challenges of the SRO GT Pro-Am class. The combination was not classified on Saturday having fallen out early but rallied to an eighth-place class finish on Sunday.
The SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America returns to competition on May 17 – 19. Rounds five and six of the 14-race championship will be held at Canada’s monument to speed, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Patrick Long, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“All things considering, we have to be really proud of our rebound to finish second. The car balance was really good. We had a bit of a conservative strategy after a tire issue at the start of the race. Unfortunately, that meant that a couple of cars jumped us in pit stops. We also had a bit of contact with the Ferrari which damaged our setup and left front splitter. It was a difficult race to persevere through, but we were there at the end and that’s what counted. It was a great day for our manufacturer’s championship hopes.”
Scott Hargrove, Driver, No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“After the trip to the tire barrier in Race 1, I felt really bad for the team and Porsche. That was on my shoulders so I wanted to make up for it and we did. I knew the Bentleys were really strong, so I figured the start was my only chance to get around them. The Ferrari and Bentley went wide at the start, which gave me a good run on the outside of turn three and got me to the front. I pushed as hard as I could until we had a tire issue towards the end of my stint. The second the window opened I pitted, which put us in a tricky strategy situation. From there, Pat did a great job, catching up and closing the gap. It was a great way to end the weekend and I’m excited to move onto Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.”
Matt Campbell, Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It was nice to salvage a podium after a frustrating weekend. The lead-up to the race certainly wasn’t ideal, but the Wright Motorsports team did a great job and we had a nice recovery. Hopefully moving on to the next race with Dennis [Olsen] driving, they can take a step forward and move up the podium ladder for Anthony’s title chase.”
Anthony Imperato, Driver, No. 91 Henry Repeating Arms Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It wasn’t the weekend I wanted, but after the issues we suffered at the beginning of the week we’re happy with a podium. I made some mistakes and am really confident that we had more. We’ll be back stronger at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.”
Black Swan Helps Wright Motorsports to Podium
Porsche racers have long been considered a family. While they compete against one another intensely on the track, the teams come to each other’s aid at times of need. When the No. 58 Porsche Consulting Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R nosed into the tire wall at VIRginia International Raceway’s (VIR) “Oak Tree” corner near the end of Saturday’s SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America race, the team did not have all of the parts it needed to make repairs in time for Sunday’s 90-minute race. Scheduled to start third on the grid the next day, it was imperative that the Ohio-based team have the car ready for Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) and Scott Hargrove (Canada) to race. Through the help of Black Swan Racing, Wright Motorsports was not only on the grid for the start on Sunday, it was on the podium at the finish.
Black Swan Racing has been idle since team principal/driver Tim Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) was injured in a practice accident for the 12 Hours of Bathurst in February. Despite being sidelined for the time-being, the team – based in Florida – has a 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 R it campaigned in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and an accompanying spare parts inventory. Through the efforts of Wright Motorsports and Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA), Black Swan was made aware of the need for certain parts to repair the Wright entry. Not only did the Pappas-owned team answer the call, they drove the parts to Savannah, Georgia to meet representatives of the Wright team. Wright crewmembers made the four-hour drive south to meet their fellow Porsche competitors. Meeting “in the middle” allowed the Johnny Wright-owned operation its only chance to get the parts back to the Alton, Virginia in time to make repairs.
The parts arrived in southern Virginia at 4:00 a.m. ET where the No.58 crew went to work. The 2017 SRO Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship team had an 11:45 a.m. open grid call as their deadline for repairs to be completed. Not only did the team meet that, they beat it in time to request, receive and make a “hardship lap” to ensure that car was completely ready to race. And race it did. The No. 58 of Long and Hargrove led much of the 90-minute race on Sunday ultimately finishing second-overall.