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Long, Nielsen Confirmed in Wright Porsche GTD Effort

Patrick Long, Christina Nielsen confirmed in new Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R entry for WeatherTech Championship…

Photo: Wright Motorsports

Wright Motorsports will make its return to endurance racing full-time next year, with Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen confirmed in a Porsche 911 GT3 R for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The new GT Daytona entry sees the two-time and defending class champion team up with America’s only Porsche factory driver, after evaluating multiple options, including at Park Place Motorsports and Michael Shank Racing.

Nielsen is understood to have tested Park Place’s Porsche following the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, and was initially linked to the Texas-based team.

The 25-year-old Dane, however, has helped form a powerhouse lineup with the John Wright-led outfit, having also become a Porsche-Selected driver for 2018.

“I am really looking forward to being back in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ve come up with such a strong combination with Wright Motorsports and Porsche,” Nielsen said.

“I’ve had a great run for the last three years, but it won’t be easy to do what I’ve already done. For me the biggest thing is to go into 2018 without relying on any previous results. We’ll start from scratch beginning with Daytona and go from there.”

Long, the reigning Pirelli World Challenge Champion with Wright, will shift his focus back to IMSA competition next year, in his first full-season campaign in the WeatherTech Championship since 2014.

“We will have our work cut out for us starting the season with two of the biggest international endurance races in sports car racing, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, but I am confident in the group’s ability,” he said.

“Christina has been on an amazing run with her two titles over the last two years and I want to blend that momentum with our 2017 title and aim for victories right out of the box. I’m very excited to get things started at Daytona.”

Wright’s GTD program is understood to have come together only in recent weeks.

“It is a tremendous opportunity to be heading back into the endurance racing arena with such a strong program,” Wright said. “In my experience, I haven’t seen too many driver combinations better to compete for a championship then what I think we will see in Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen.

“I’m also very happy to have Patrick back for the 2018 season. Coming off this year’s championships, our momentum could not be stronger than it is now.”

Wright Confirms PWC Exit

Wright’s new GTD entry will come at the expense of its PWC program, with the Ohio-based squad not having any current plans to return to the sprint race championship next year.

Long and the team won this year’s GT Overall and GT Sprint titles, with Long finishing runner-up in the Drivers’ Championship last year. 

In addition to the No. 58 car, which was shared by Joerg Bergmeister in the SprintX races this year, the team also fielded a GTA class Porsche for Michael Schein.

No word has been given on Schein’s future.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. almzkid

    December 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    Amazing news.

    Hopefully Allegra and Park Place return to the Porsche fleet.

    PWC is not having a very productive off season

    • Larry

      December 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Allegra was at the test last week so they are gonna be there.

      Who knows about Park Place but I hope they are back in a Porsche.

      It’s great to see Pat Long back from PWC.

      So, now it’s at least 2 Porsches in GTD and maybe 3, depending on what Park Place does.

    • enner

      December 10, 2017 at 5:49 pm

      Stevenson, Job, and Speedsource not having a very productive off season either

  2. JCsup

    December 9, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Wow, another front runner leaving PWC.

    With IMSA going all in on the manufacturer-backed GT3/GT4/TCR formulas, maybe now would be a good time for PWC to differentiate itself and really encourage teams to run what they built like the old days.

    Not saying this would net them bigger/better grids (it won’t in the short term), but it’ll give the independent teams and tuners that have been squeezed out a place to compete, while providing a true alternative to the too-similar Conti series.

    • Matt

      December 9, 2017 at 11:33 pm

      Agreed.

  3. Brian

    December 9, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Was hoping to see the Corvette race this team. But either way im sure they thought about imsa a lot before entering that over PWC…

  4. Jefferson

    December 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Wow, another team gone from PWC. Seems to me one of the things that made PWC great was that it was different in that it was a sprint only format. I loved the sprint racing, it was the PWC heritage, but now this SprintX thing is confusing, its not endurance and its not sprint. I wonder if you did a pole with the teams, how many would choose to do SprintX? They need to go back to what worked for them and helped get them to where they are today.

    • Matt

      December 9, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      Literally every fan, everyone told them “SprintX “ was such a stupid idea. They still haven’t taken the hint. Greg Gill needs to be fired and the SRO needs to back off.

    • PWCisboring

      December 10, 2017 at 10:40 am

      They might find out more if they took a POLL instead of a pole.

      Y’all go boohoo PWCs demise elsewhere

  5. All the Way Home

    December 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    I think Long should legally change his middle name to “America’s only Porsche factory driver.” That for sure will be on his headstone or his urn. Just for sh!ts and grins, how many Tahitians are Porsche factory drivers?

    • Andy Flinnt

      December 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” was pretty good behind the wheel of an Interscope Porsche, even if he wasn’t a factory driver.

  6. ShaneR37

    December 9, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Well there’s the championship in the bag. What an incredible pro-am combo. Can’t wait. Hopefully better livery than the wright car last year.

    • WesGTR

      December 9, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      I don’t know, Shank’s pairing of Legge and Parente looks strong as well, and we’ve seen the fights Parente and Long have had. Daytona can’t come soon enough.

      • thomas

        December 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

        Unfortunately Parente/Legge is only TPNAEC

  7. Pete

    December 9, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Basically the definition of a championship-caliber pairing. Will be good to have PL back in the IMSA paddock, too.

  8. Joe

    December 9, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Here’s to enjoying watching Wright win it all and McNeil carry Scuderia to the back of the field.

    • WesGTR

      December 11, 2017 at 11:11 am

      I’ll drink to that!

  9. DC

    December 9, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Congrats Pat!

  10. Johannes275

    December 9, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Wow, awesome news for IMSA! This is just fantastic, frontrunners confirmed at every race! And with Christina (gotta love having her around) and a full-on factory driver. One word…awesome.

  11. Pierre

    December 9, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Might be the strongest GTD team

  12. thomas

    December 10, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Another well known sportscar website described Nielsen as a “Porsche selected driver.” Does anybody know what the means? Factory paid silver driver?

    • John Dagys

      December 10, 2017 at 7:59 am

      It’s a new category Porsche has created. She is currently the only one selected.

      From Porsche’s PR release:

      The proven support scheme will be supplemented for the first time by Porsche Selected Drivers in the coming year. Porsche also provides these pilots with training, which includes fitness tests. So far, Christina Nielsen from Denmark is the first driver to be chosen

      • thomas

        December 10, 2017 at 9:13 am

        thanks. So it’s kind of a keep them under the wing programme for silver drivers.

  13. John

    December 10, 2017 at 2:48 am

    I would take it to mean a driver who is sanctioned or maybe even supported by the factory, but not part of the official team of drivers who are on retainer and placed in various assignments. And an endorsement specific to this specific situation only.

    But that’s just a guess.

    Welcome news, regardless., and a more balanced pairing than Ferrari’s, cough, cough.

  14. Steven

    December 10, 2017 at 10:47 am

    Thank goodness Nielsen finally got a well deserved ride. This is a very strong pairing and I hope she chuckles a bit every time she drives by MacNeil’s damaged Ferrari which will be inevitable.

  15. Wake Up, PWC

    December 10, 2017 at 11:27 am

    How many championship contending teams have to leave PWC for them to realize they need to stop messing with a good thing? They were doing well when it was a sprint series. Costs were down, teams were happy, championships were simple. Then they tried to be like IMSA by adding SprintX (against the wishes of the fans and teams), and now they’ve lost another big team. Now that they’re making GTS a SprintX championship as well, the field will shrink over there too, just like it did for GT. IMSA could be the best in US enduro, and PWC could be the best in US sprint, but no. Pwc just keeps trying to beat imsa at its own game. Fail.

    • Tyler

      December 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      “Wake up, Greg Gill”

    • tracer

      December 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      I thought that the intended plan to make GTS SprintX next season was scrapped, and that it’s still yet to be confirmed whether GTS cars will be allowed to run in the GT SprintX races?

      • Ben

        December 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        That was the plan but in the PRI open meeting, sprint x gts was back on.

        • tracer

          December 10, 2017 at 4:28 pm

          Oh okay, I’d missed that. Thanks for the clarification!

  16. Ben

    December 10, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    And they won’t be running in the GT sprintx if GTS have their own sprint x series. I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for them to announce it. Since they already said it wouldn’t happen, they will try to avoid another embarrassment by announcing they changed their minds. Like how st Pete now includes GT3 after announcing it was GT4 only.

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