ALTON, VA. – The opening rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX championship presented both success and adversity for Wright Motorsports and their pair of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs. VIRginia International Raceway’s (VIR) notably eventful weekend saw a victory and third place finish for Michael Schein and Jan Heylen’s GT-Pro/Am entry and a slew of misfortune for the reunited pairing of Patrick Long and Jörg Bergmeister.
With the help of Heylen, Schein was able to continue his 2017 podium streak through the rolling hills of VIR. At the start of Race One, Schein jolted from his second place qualifying position to the lead and didn’t look back. He then passed the No. 16 Porsche over to Heylen, who found himself in a number of battles and ultimately took second in class. It was later concluded that due to an infraction made by a competitor, Schein and Heylen would gain a position, promoting them to the class win and overall third place.
With a spark of momentum from their win, Heylen bridged a strong gap in his third place starting position and handed it off to Schein, who carried the No. 16 Porsche to the third place podium slot in Race Two. Heylen and Schein will head into Rounds 6 and 7 leading the championship points in the SprintX GT-Pro/Am category.
Despite starting from an uncharacteristic sixth place, Long and Bergmeister had no issues getting right back into the rhythm during Race One. With 15-minutes remaining, Bergmeister was battling it out for the lead when he was directed to serve a drive-through penalty, demoting the car to fifth place. The infraction was for a series mandated 30-second pit stop time, which the No. 58 Porsche along with five other GT-Pro/Pro entries fell short of.
Race Two brought a new element of challenges for the Porsche factory duo. Bergmeister was making a charge from his eighth place starting position when a full-course caution was thrown. While under caution, a competitor’s error resulted in heavy contact to the rear of the No. 58 Porsche. When the 10-minute pit window opened up, Bergmeister handed the wheel over to Long, but the damage sustained to the engine was simply too extensive, resulting in a forced retirement.
SprintX will be back for the next two stops on the Pirelli World Challenge schedule, beginning with Rounds 6 and 7 May 19-21 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Patrick Long // No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “This one was tough. A pit lane infraction stalled our podium run during Race One, but fortunately it was still a strong day for the overall championship points. During the second race we got collected in someone else’s mess under yellow, so there wasn’t a lot that we could’ve done. The SprintX championship has brought a lot of factors into play that we didn’t necessarily see coming, so we’ll just have to go do our homework and come back stronger for Mosport.”
Jörg Bergmeister // No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was a very frustrating weekend starting with our penalty during Race One. For Race Two, I tried to get a good start, but unfortunately was on the inside and the outside line seemed to have a bit more luck. Then I was stuck behind a slower car. He went off in turn ten and I tried to make a move on him in turn twelve, but we touched and I lost two positions. Then a full course yellow came out and we got hit from behind while under full course yellow and destroyed the rear our car. We are very disappointed, but will move on to Mosport.”
Michael Schein // No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was a very successful first SprintX weekend for Jan and I. For Race One, we ended up second in class, but the leading car got a penalty for passing under yellow, so we got the win. We’ll take it! For Race Two, Jan started the car in third and had a great run. We were catching the cars in front of us, but then the yellow came out and ended our race pretty quickly. It was unfortunate because I wasn’t able to get in many green laps, but it was definitely a solid weekend for Jan, Wright Motorsports and myself.”
Jan Heylen // No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R – “It was really nice to be here with Wright Motorsports in the Pirelli World Challenge. Mike and I had a great start to the SprintX championship and I really enjoyed the experience. We had our fair share of bad luck, but with a little bit of good luck we ended up getting the win in Race One. We didn’t have quite the same pace for Race Two, but we were able to score great points with another podium and come away leading the championship. You can’t do much better than that. I’m really happy with the performance of the entire team and looking forward to Mosport.”
About Wright Motorsports
Wright Motorsports is the premier Porsche race engineering facility in Ohio and a multi-series, international racing team known for superb car preparation, expert race strategy and driver development. Located in Batavia, Ohio near Cincinnati, it is owned and directed by John Wright, a certified Porsche factory-trained technician. As a crew chief John Wright has played a key role in winning eight driver and seven team championships in World Challenge, IMSA (ALMS) and the Grand-Am Rolex Series. Wright Motorsports won the team championship in Porsche GT3 Cup USA in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In 2016 the team took runner-up in the Pirelli World Challenge GT championship. For more information see wrightmotorsports.com and follow the team on Twitter and Facebook.