As the checkered flag flew at last Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the end of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship season was upon us. Amid the faint smell of champagne and stray confetti, the morning after the event saw many teams still onsite packing up their trailers or even beginning pre-season testing. The Wright Motorsports team however, was preparing to do it all over again— this time at the Intercontinental GT Challenge’s California Eight Hour.
With less than a week to transform the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R into the No. 911 and send it across the country to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the John Wright-led crew was ready to put their endurance skills to the test.
“It was always the plan for this car to run the California 8 Hour, so with the events being back-to-back all of the suspension components and the gearbox were prepped to do a twenty-four-hour race before we even got to Petit Le Mans,” explained Wright Motorsports Technical Director, Bob Viglione.
It’s no secret that ten hours of door-to-door racing will be taxing on equipment. Coming into the Motul Petit Le Mans, Wright Motorsports knew what was at stake.
“Thankfully it wasn’t anything critical, but we definitely had damage from contact at Petit,” Viglione continued. “Some of the curb riding at Road Atlanta is also pretty severe, even with the car raised to accommodate it. Because of that the rocker panels, the floor boards and some of the fender mounts needed to be repaired; which is what really placed it outside of normal endurance prep.”
Following the 10-hour event, the group was able to take advantage of the man power that they already had on site and completed most of the heavy labor in Atlanta. Once packed up on Sunday evening, the Porsche was shipped 500-miles north to Ohio, only to be back in the crew’s hands by Monday morning.
Apart from the apparent switch from Continental to Pirelli tires, a change in championships meant a change in specifications for the Porsche. While the core of the car is the same FIA GT3 spec Porsche, both the weight and restrictor size needed to be dialed back to meet the IGTC balance of performance. That however, was only the beginning of it.
“For any endurance race we essentially have to have a full second car’s worth of body panels in case of an incident,” Viglione added. “A huge part of this turn-around once we got back to the shop was going through all of our spares and making sure every part was cleaned, replaced, straightened and ready to go.”
“We also had to do general maintenance— inspect the suspension, check the wiring, nut and bolt the whole car, and run through data from the race. Once all of that was complete and everything was functioning in its proper operating window, we felt confident loading the car on Friday morning.”
The Wright Motorsports team is set to take on the California 8-Hour with the likes of Porsche factory aces, Romain Dumas, Dirk Werner, and Fred Makowiecki at the helm of the No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R. With The 8-hour event will begin at 9:15 a.m. PDT on Sunday (Oct. 28).
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 2017, the team secured the Pirelli World Challenge Overall, Sprint, Team and Manufacturer’s titles. With two podiums on the season, the group currently campaigns a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship for Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen. For more information see wrightmotorsports.com and follow the team on Twitter and Facebook.