Two Porsche customer teams entered IMSA’s Michelin SportsCar Encore at Sebring for a two-day after party to close the sanctioning body’s 50th anniversary. While neither was a full-season entrant in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD class, both Wright Motorsports and Black Swan Racing brought Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars to Sebring International Raceway on November 9 – 10 to add seat time for drivers and the two teams themselves. After four hours of racing, the top four GT3 cars finished in a nose-to-tail line on the famous Florida track with Wright Motorsports finishing in second-place just ahead of the Black Swan entry.
Victory in the four-hour event resulted from pit strategy that allowed the class-winning Mercedes AMG just enough of an edge to fend-off the pressure from the rear-engine Porsche machines. The No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with drivers Ryan Hardwick (Atlanta, Georgia), Max Root (San Diego, California) and Jan Heylen (Clearwater, Florida) finished on the second-step of the Encore GT3 class podium. Timothy Pappas (Boston, Massachusetts) made his return to the cockpit after an accident at the 12 Hours of Bathurst in February with co-drivers Marc Miller (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and Spencer Pumpelly (Atlanta, Georgia). The trio raced the No. 54 Black Swan Porsche to a third-place finish.
While the race itself offered no points, and the factory teams of the GTLM class and DPi entries were not allowed, the race provided both Wright and Black Swan the opportunity to give new drivers and combinations time to experience the 500 horsepower Porsche GT3-spec contender. Among those using the post-season race as a platform to learn was 2018 Hurley Haywood Scholarship recipient, Max Root. The weekend was Root’s first opportunity to race the international GT3-spec Porsche in competition. The Californian, a graduate of the 2018 Porsche Young Driver Academy, is a three-time race winner in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship with Wright Motorsports.
Max Root, Driver, No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“GT3 Cup is a great platform for drivers of all ages to develop your skills. It’s one of the hardest cars to drive perfectly and at the limit and I think all those skills transition to the GT3 car. It was a no brainer to go with the Porsche. It’s the best car and the best manufacturer. Once I got the call and the opportunity from Wright, it was a dream of mine just to get in the car. Sebring is a great course to do it at, so I’m really happy we were able to put it together.
“I think Wright Motorsports has put together a really easy to drive car today. It was a nice transition going from a Cup car with no traction control, no ABS into something will all the aero, traction control and ABS and it’s a lot more complicated.”