LIME ROCK, Conn. – The pairing of Patrick Long and Marc Lieb took the lead from the pole during Friday’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX race at Lime Rock Park and promptly drove to victory.
Long and Lieb, sharing the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, won by a margin of 5.411 seconds.
The Long/Lieb duo was the fourth different team to win in SprintX this year with the Ferrari (Mancinelli/Montermini), Mercedes (Morad/Dalziel) and Cadillac (Cooper/J. Taylor) earlier standing on the victory podium.
Long piloted the car for the first part of the race, but wasn’t able to escape a quick Spencer Pumpelly and his Magnus Racing Audi, who was right with Long for the opening stint after moving to second early in the running around Daniel Morad in No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes AMG GT3.
Long then turned driving duties over to co-driver Lieb toward the end of the pit window delta with roughly 25 minutes left while other contenders followed a similar strategy.
While Lieb exited the pits with Magnus Racing driver Dane Cameron right on his tail, he was able to pull a gap before a late caution came out to relieve the No. 3 Cadillac Racing entry of Ricky Taylor that was off in turn one following contact from another car.
Lieb controlled the restart with 11 minutes to go, extending his overall lead and taking the win for Wright Motorsports, who made it a double victory with a win in the GT Pro/Am division for the pairing of Michael Schein and Jan Heylen – who took the win after a tight and competitive race with Autosport Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 grouping of Ricardo Sanchez and Frank Montecalvo in the No. 75.
“This is some redemption after last week at CTMP with the second-place finish,” said Long, the 2011 PWC GT champion. “It feels remenecent of last year when Michael and I won at CTMP with double wins. Race was everything you expect from Lime Rock. We play the patient game today as we looked for the proper holes. The race was pretty straight forward from the start. Spencer (Pumpelly) kept me honest through the traffic. It’s always good racing with Spencer. He is a class act. It’s been a great working with Marc and trying to convince him to come out of retirement. Now we look to repeat again on Sunday.”
“It’s difficult to come to a new series and you don’t do many races with the team,” said Lieb, who filled in for team regular Jörg Bergmeister who was racing in Europe this weekend. “It was good to do the test day on Tuesday here at Lime Rock and that helped me be ready for today’s race. It was great to work with the team, driver changes and the pace. Everything worked perfectly. I’m really happy to help out Patrick in the championship fight.”
“I was looking to get a clean start and look for a pass if it presented itself,” said Schein, a seven-time GTA winner in 2016. “I was able to run consistent laps and at the end you could see that the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 R was a better car. Jan and I have known each other for awhile and the synergy has been there. With the race season split in half with Sprint and SprintX, every race is very important.”
“This race was decided to follow the other teams we were racing in the championship,” said Heylen, who won with Schein at VIR in Pro/Am. “Mike did a great job with the Porsche in the first half of the race. He left me in a great position when we made the driver change. I was able to get by the Nissan and the car was fun to drive. I am happy with the result and it helps us working towards the championship. It’s nice to work with Wright Motorsports. It’s a family setting.”
Top honors in the GT Am/Am division when to MOMO/NGT Motorsports and the Ferrari 458 GT3 piloted by Henrique Cisneros and Tyler McQuarrie.
In the GT Cup class, the Pro/Am win went to Alessandro Bressan and Yuki Harata after a solid run in the Dream Racing Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. GT Cup Am/Am first place hardware went to Joe Toussaint and Cory Friedman in the Autometrics Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
In GTS, the Case-it Racing drivers of Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman won in Pro/Am competition in the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. In Am/Am for GTS, it was Chris Hall and Alan Brynjolfsson taking the victory for VOLT Racing in their Ford Mustang.