EVENT PREVIEW: Wright Motorsports 1st Phorm Porsche Poised and Ready to Defend Rolex 24 Win
DAYTONA, Fla., (January 25, 2023) – The Rolex 24 At Daytona has arrived with Wright Motorsports and the No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche entering the week armed and ready to defend the team’s 2022 win in the GTD class. Last week, the team completed the Roar Before the 24, conducting the first shakedown of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R (type 992) at Daytona International Speedway. With official testing complete, race week activities begin, and thus the assault on the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title and the top honors in the iconic endurance event, January 28 – 29.
“Our win last season is the perfect motivation entering into this year’s Rolex 24 and the 2023 championship,” said Team Owner John Wright. “All the pieces and all the hard work came together, and we proved that Wright Motorsports has what it takes to win. The 1st Phorm Porsche finished the Roar as the top Porsche but we still have some work to do in the upcoming days to keep making gains on the rest of the field. We’re feeling good heading into this weekend, and we’re excited to be back.”
Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen, and Zacharie Robichon have returned to defend last year’s win, this time joined by Intercontinental GT Challenge champion Dennis Olsen. The 26-year-old finished the 2022 Rolex 24 in third, racing a Porsche in the GTD Pro class.
The present-day field of entrants has yielded nine new Porsche 911 GT3 R race cars, which were delivered to teams at the end of 2022. While programs may have conducted private tests leading up to the start of the new season, last week’s Roar Before the 24 brought all the new entries together for several days of on-track shakedowns. The drivers noted an increase in the car’s drivability, as well as more efficient aerodynamics and torque. Both were key targets of Porsche when the newest iteration of the iconic 911 racer was designed.
Unofficially, the No. 16 1st Phorm Porsche will start the race from 13th place in the GTD class, one of five classes competing in the event. The GTP, LMP2, and LMP3 classes consist of varying types of prototypes while the GTD Pro and GTD classes strictly run with machinery based off of street cars from the world’s leading manufacturers. The GTD Pro class features all-professional driver lineups, while the GTD class driver lineups offer a mixture of professional and amateur-ranked lineups. The GTD class is the biggest run group, making up 40 percent of the 61-car field.
Activities for the Rolex 24 At Daytona will begin on Thursday, January 26 with the first of five practice sessions in two days. The start of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona begins at 1:40 PM Eastern on Saturday, January 28, concluding exactly 24 hours later on Sunday afternoon. The broadcast will air live from the wave of the green flag to the drop of the checkered flag on Peacock, NBC Universal’s streaming platform. The first hour of the race will also air live on NBC before switching to the USA Network. IMSA Radio will offer live coverage worldwide without brakes on imsaradio.com. For all event information, follow the team on social media or visit wright motorsports.com or imsa.com.
I’m really looking forward to returning to the Rolex 24 with my Wright Motorsports team and teammates. Winning the race last year was truly one of the most special moments of my life. Experiencing something like that just leaves you yearning for more, so that is our focus going into this race. The Roar was a bit of a head scratcher for us. The BOP that was given to the Porsches had us all between three and four seconds off the pace of the other GTD cars, so we have our work cut out for us at a track that is so dependent on top speed. But if anyone can overcome challenges like these, it is our team. We will be ready to go to battle for 24 hours come race day.
I’m excited to be back and I am really looking forward to next week. We’re obviously coming off a strong season last year but it’s a new year, and a new car. It’s nice to be here with the same team while we learn all there is to learn about this new car. This is my favorite event, so I’m really happy to be back and can’t wait to get started.
Going into the race, we’ve been working very hard on the car to try and understand this new platform and finding the best way to exploit the speed out of it. Obviously at this point, there’s certain things out of our control, that may be hindering our performance. That being said, our job is to get the most out of the package we have and we’re checking all our boxes. We’re making steps to best understanding these new 911 GT3 R Porsches, and we’re looking forward to improving from where we started, as we have been.
The Roar Before the 24 and qualifying is done. We expected to be a little bit further up the field, but we’re working hard with the car and the team is doing a good job. It seems like the other manufacturers have a bit of an edge on the straight-line speed. Hopefully we’ll get some help there from the series organizers and we can be able to fight for the win. It has been nice to get started with the new car, and it’s definitely a huge challenge. We’re doing a lot of different things to understand the package best. We have a great team around us to do the right things, and I’m looking forward to the race. I think we will have a great chance.