Wright Motorsports Closes Out Successful Weekend at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 24, 2022) – The temperatures were heated this weekend and so was the action at Watkins Glen International for rounds seven and eight of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS. The Wright Motorsports driving duo of Charlie Luck and Jan Heylen had a rewarding weekend, earning their first overall victory as a pair and collecting another top-five finish.
The pair started the 2022 season off with back-to-back wins in the Pro/Am class at Sonoma Raceway but remained in the hunt for their first-ever overall podium. Coming off a podium weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, the team felt positive about this weekend’s doubleheader in Upstate New York.
The GT World Challenge America field took the green flag under sunny skies and warm temperatures on Saturday afternoon, immediately delivering exciting racing action. The green flag racing was short-lived, as a car stopped on track on lap one, bringing out a full-course caution. Luck had a clean restart, jumping up to fourth place in class. He restarted in fourth behind George Kurtz, putting heavy pressure on the No. 04 Mercedes AMG GT3 for the last podium position. A full course caution squeezed the field together, and Luck passed the No. 94 BMW of Chandler Hull, taking third place while Ashton Harrison (No. 93. Acura) and Kurtz battled for the lead just ahead.
The field went back to green with 51 minutes remaining, just as the mandatory pit window opened. Luck pitted from third place; a speedy driver change and a masterful pit stop by the Wright crew allowed Jan Heylen to take over the No. 45 and exit pit lane ahead of Colin Braun in the No. 04 Mercedes AMG Kurtz had just vacated. Heylen worked to close the 1.2-second gap to the leading Acura, now being driven by Mario Farnbacher. Farnbacher then suffered a tire issue, slowing dramatically to limp the car around the 3.4-mile circuit. With the Acura out of the way, Heylen assumed the class lead with 21 minutes remaining. Running third overall, he climbed another position to take second place as the No. 33 Winward Mercedes faced its own tire-related attrition. The racing gods smiled on Wright Motorsports yet again as trouble for the race leader allowed Heylen and the No.45 Wright Motorsports Porsche to take the overall lead. Though leading the field to the checkered flag, Heylen still held off heavy pressure from the Mercedes of Braun, who fought determinedly for top honors in the final laps. However, Heylen kept the top spot earning the first overall race win for the pairing.
Race two at Watkins Glen International failed to achieve the same level of excitement as the previous round, as the 15-car field almost immediately spread out across the 3.4-mile circuit. Heylen started the race from third in class and sixth overall and had a brief side-by-side battle with Braun and his Mercedes, but the No. 04 car ultimately took the position. Heylen’s stint appeared to be fairly uneventful, though he made a smooth pass to take fifth overall from the Pro/Pro Lamborghini of Jordan Pepper in turn six. The Wright Porsche pitted in fourth place during the mandatory stop and was narrowly passed by the No. 93 Acura of Mario Farnbacher as the ten-minute pit window closed. In the end, Luck had a clean and trouble-free stint, as again many of his competitors fell victim to off-track excursions and tire issues. He closed the weekend for the team with a fifth-place finish—the pair’s sixth of the year.
GT World Challenge America now enters the second half of the race season, with three events remaining: Road America, Sebring International Raceway, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rounds nine and ten at Road America will take place August 19-21. For more information, visit wrightmotorsports.com.