RECAP: From 15th to Podium: Wright Motorsports, Volt Lighting Porsche Shine at Chaotic Petit Le Man
BRASELTON, Ga., (October 16, 2023) – As Wright Motorsports prepared to say goodbye to Alan Brynjolfsson – who closes out his professional sports car racing career – the team persevered in a challenging race, earning a third-place finish at the 26th Annual Motul Petit Le Mans. Brynjolfsson, with co-drivers Trent Hindman and Max Root celebrated a second podium of the year for the No. 77 VOLT Lighting Porsche, the top-finishing Porsche at one of the most remarkable races of the season.
“This third-place result is a true testament to all of the effort put in by our drivers and team over the season,” said Team Owner John Wright. “We’re sad to see Alan, his wife Trish, and their VOLT Racing program leave the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but performing so well in such an unpredictable race is a great way to close things out. We’re thankful for what we’ve been able to build together and to be a part of Alan’s growth as a driver over the years. It has been an honor.”
Alan Brynjolfsson took his final green flag on Saturday morning, from 15th position after a qualifying session that threw unexpected weather at the field on Friday morning, October 15. The Michelin Pilot Challenge champion drove one of the best stints of his career, climbing up to seventh place by the 40-minute mark. While other competitors suffered early contact or penalties, Brynjolfsson drove a clean opening segment of the race, even avoiding contact when facing heavy pressure from the GTD class champions. Instead of caving to the pressure, Brynjolfsson had a smooth pass on the No. 16 Wright entry in turn 10 A/B, and later expertly avoided a large multi-car crash in the same turns in the second hour of the race. He completed his minimum-required drive time and pitted from seventh place on lap 114 to give the VOLT Lighting machine over to Hindman. His clean and competitive triple stint around the 2.54-mile circuit closed his final on-track performance in the IMSA GTD class.
With three hours of the race complete, Hindman started his stint under caution, climbing up to sixth by passing Gunnar Jeannette’s Porsche and Bill Auberlen’s BMW, continuing the advance of the VOLT machine. He made another pass for fifth before closing out his opening stint and passing the car over to Max Root.
Root joined the race in ninth, focused on running consistent lap times and keeping the Porsche clean in what was unfolding to be an attrition-filled race for most of the field. As VOLT’s sister car took the class lead, Root continued the climb of his Porsche, sliding past the No. 66 and No. 27 to return to seventh place. An eighth full course caution assisted in closing the 5.6-second gap to the car ahead, and he pitted for Hindman to resume his driving duties with four hours remaining. Hindman rejoined and restarted from sixth place, and within an hour had cycled through to third place.
At this point in the race, various GTD cars were racing on different strategies, and nerves began to mount. Expecting there to be more cautions towards the end of the race, the Wright strategy wisely called for fuel saving with Root and Hindman alternating stints until the end of the race. The Porsche 911 race cars came alive in the cooler temperatures, and the strategy from the pit box positioned Hindman to restart from fifth place with 25 minutes remaining.
The biggest shakeup unfolded in the final 12 minutes when the No. 18 prototype stopped on track, bringing out yet another full-course caution. Jan Heylen, in the No. 16 entered by Wright Motorsports, ran second with Hindman in fourth, but on the restart, a GTD Pro car hit the No. 16 Wright Porsche in turns 10 A/B, causing a ripple effect of collisions that resulted in the No. 16 and No. 80 losing their ability to fight for podium contention. The No. 96 of Robby Foley and the No. 77 of Hindman safely navigated through the scuffle as the crew watched with bated breath from pit lane.
The No. 77 VOLT Lighting Porsche finished in third place, earning the second podium of the season for drivers Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman as well as endurance addition Max Root. In a race with so many cautions that resulted in 25 percent of the GTD class retiring early, the Wright Motorsports trio took great pride in closing out the race and the season as the top-finishing Porsche.
It’s great to end the season and my time in GTD with a podium finish. Everyone did such a great job, and it’s an honor to race with this group.
This was quite unexpected. Considering the year that we’ve had and the buildup to this moment, there was a lot of work being done to maximize what we can do in this race. I’m glad it all paid off. To close out the year, and end Alan’s GTD run, with a podium finish was a wish come true.
I’m super excited for the VOLT team. We’ve definitely had our highs and lows; this high being the highest of them all. Trent and Alan did an incredible job today. Every man and woman on the team did such a great job. We got a little lucky this time and hard work paid off.