Heylen says Wright Porsche is a Rolex 24 victory contender

Wright Motorsports’ Porsche can fight for IMSA GT Daytona-class honors in the Rolex 24 Hours, according to the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup ace, Jan Heylen.

Heylen says Wright Porsche is a Rolex 24 victory contender
Listen to this article

The team suffered a setback last week when Ryan Hardwick shunted the 911 GT3 R in practice, obliging Wright Motorsports to adopt the chassis of Black Swan Racing, which has withdrawn its entry due to team owner Tim Pappas testing positive for COVID-19.

However, Hardwick redeemed himself in the qualifying race and thanks to his and fulltime teammate Pat Long’s efforts, the team climbed from 19th in class to finish ninth, where they will start on the GTD grid on Saturday. They will be joined by ex-Champ Car racer Heylen – with whom they won last November’s Sebring 12 Hours – and Klaus Bachler, who drove with Long and Hardwick to fourth in last year’s Rolex 24.

This line-up, the Wright team’s preparation and the Porsche’s qualities have combined to convince Heylen they can be in contention for victory come Sunday afternoon.

“I think we had a lot of good things happen for us in the Roar,” said the 40-year-old Belgian. “A few things didn’t come our way, but all in all, we have a team that is very well prepared for this event, and we have a big week ahead of us.

“We’re with the best team in the paddock, so I know preparation won’t be an issue. The Porsche in general is competitive, and if it were to come down to the last hour in the race, we have a car we can fight with.

“It’s nice to be here with Patrick and Ryan again, and having Klaus with us again. We have a good team and a good lineup.”

Said Hardwick: “I am coming off a weekend at the Roar where I did some of the best driving of my life, and I’m ready to show that same pace when it counts this weekend in the Rolex.

“I’m confident that our Wright Motorsports team is the most prepared team in the GTD field, and that my co-drivers are all as eager as I am to go for the win this weekend.

Long struck a more cautionary note, stating that, “This is a deep field of great entries, and a top-five is going to be a real challenge.

“We had a phenomenal Roar week right up until night practice when it all fell apart. We dug deep and the team did an amazing job to get us onto the grid for the qualifying race.

“The qualifying race was a pretty messy affair. Cars were all over the place, but we are proud of the team effort that was able to get these laps under our belt and gain some data with this new car.”

For an updated entrylist for 59th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona click here

shares
comments

Related video

Updated entry list for 59th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona
Previous article

Updated entry list for 59th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

Next article

Cetilar not ruling out further IMSA outings in 2021

Cetilar not ruling out further IMSA outings in 2021
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Prime

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Prime

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Prime

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push Prime

The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push

Have you heard the one about two British guys driving for a Japanese manufacturer in America’s top sportscar series? Time to sit down and talk with Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat about racing across the pond… and your accent being mistaken for Australian!

IMSA
Mar 16, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC Prime

Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the WEC. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Prime

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic Prime

How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic

Helio Castroneves continued his fine start to life with Meyer Shank Racing that netted the 2021 Indianapolis 500 victory by prevailing in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours together with teammates Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud. As Cadillac fell by the wayside, the Brazilian veteran won out in an all-Acura duel to the finish

IMSA
Feb 1, 2022