BATAVIA, Ohio – Wright Motorsports is set to enter Pirelli World Challenge competition with a pair of full-season Porsche 911 GT3 R entries.
Returning to the team full-time will be Patrick Long in GT and Michael Schein in GTA. For the SprintX rounds, Long will be reuniting with fellow Porsche factory driver Jörg Bergmeister and Schein will be paired with Jan Heylen.
“As a team owner, I couldn’t be happier with the depth of our Sprint and SprintX lineups”, said Wright Motorsports Principal John Wright. “I’m looking forward to working with Patrick and Jörg as teammates again and very excited to see what Jan and Mike can do sharing a seat in GTA. It’s been a long offseason, but now we’re ready to kick things off and take care of some unfinished business.”
Wright Motorsports is retaining an identical lineup for the new season, with Schein in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R and Long in the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
After joining the John Wright-led team mid-season last year, Long took second in the championship with three wins and five top-five finishes. Having come so close to the Pirelli World Challenge GT title, Long is hungry and is expected to be a contender for the championship.
“I’m very grateful to be back for another shot at the championship with the Wright Motorsports team,” Long said. “It’s also great to back in a car with my long time co-driver Jörg Bergmeister. This will be our eighth time running a season championship as teammates since 2004! Jörg is a tremendous competitor and always pushes every aspect of the program to be its very best, including his teammate! We’ve shared a lot of very fond memories and victories in the past and have many more to make in the coming races.”
Schein proved himself to be a quick learner in 2016. Despite missing three rounds, the New Yorker ended the season with a strong second place in the GTA championship. He sprayed champagne after 15 of the 17 races he contested, eight of those being victory celebrations.
“I’m excited to get back to work with the whole Wright Motorsports team in the Porsche 911 GT3R,” said Schein. “We learned a good deal about the car last year and I expect us to be strong out of the gate. I’m happy to see a few more competitors on the GTA grid for this year. It should make for some good racing.”
Bringing a wealth of knowledge and Porsche racing experience to the table, Bergmeister is expected to be a strong asset to the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R. While the German Porsche factory driver carries an extensive resume driving Porsche racecars, his most recent experience comes from the Porsche 911 GT3 R, of which he drives full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Long and Bergmeister have previously competed together as co-drivers. They earned three championships in seven seasons together, but haven’t raced full-time together since 2012 when Wright Motorsports served as a technical partner for their Flying Lizard Motorsports program.
“Seeing Patrick and Jörg back together brings a smile to my face, as I’m sure it does for many fans of the driver duo from the 911 GT3 RSR Flying Lizard Motorsport days,” said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America.
“The Flying Lizard team was one of the most popular and successful customer teams in recent memory, with multiple championships to their credit. The two will definitely add excitement to the growing PWC SprintX format.”
Capping off the SprintX roster will be sports car racing veteran Heylen. Heylen holds a long-standing relationship with Wright Motorsports and Schein, having successfully competed and coached with the Ohio-based team for many seasons.
“It’s so nice to finally be a part of the Pirelli World Challenge,” said Heylen. “Then the fact that I get to do it with Wright Motorsports and Mike Schein makes it even better. I’ve been working with John Wright for four years now and started coaching Mike in his first year of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge , so everyone there is family to me. Mike is certainly one of the quicker GTA guys out there well so I’m confident that we have a great shot at this. It’s also nice to be in a car next to Patrick and Jörg. There will be some good competition within the team and I like that. Now I’m ready to get things started.”