Ryan Hardwick admitted that his recent double-duty weekend at Mid-Ohio played a factor into the decision to focus entirely on IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for the remainder of the season with Wright Motorsports.
The Bronze-rated driver, who was slated to undertake full seasons of both Pilot Challenge and the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year, stood down from his full-season GT Daytona program last week, which will see Trent Hindman team up with Porsche factory driver Patrick Long for the remainder of the season.
It has resulted in last year’s GTD runner-up focusing entirely on Wright’s Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport entry in Pilot Challenge beginning with this weekend’s four-hour enduro at Watkins Glen International.
“It will be nice to have my complete focus on the Michelin Pilot Challenge series and our Cayman GT4,” said Hardwick.
“Switching back and forth between the GTD and the GT4 cars was really challenging for me, and that played a lot into my decision to focus on one car for the remainder of this season.
“The Glen is my favorite racetrack on the IMSA schedule. It’s so challenging to run at a quick pace here for an entire race. Our focus is to run a couple of clean races, gain some positive points and keep chipping away at the overall championship lead.”
Hardwick’s co-driver Jan Heylen currently sits seventh in the GS title race after the car was forced to miss the season opener at Daytona due to an accident by Hardwick in qualifying.
The duo are coming off a runner-up finish in the last round at Mid-Ohio, where Hardwick took the Porsche to overall pole honors.
“We’ve come off two really good weekends in the GT4 car,” said Heylen. “We’re back into the championship. We need another good result to put us in the top three, and to really fight for the championship.
“I think the Glen could be a tough race for us depending on how hot it’s going to be. We have a really good car, but we know that we lose some performance when it gets hot, so hopefully, the weather works with us a little bit and especially since, since we have a doubleheader there.
“Ryan is in great form, and our testing went really well. Ryan was quick and we’re really looking forward to it and I hope we can come home with another podium finish.”
Hindman: An “Honor” to Get Full Season Call Up
Hindman said he’s “grateful” to have been given the opportunity to complete the GTD season in team’s No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R alongside Long.
The 2019 GTD champion took part in the opening two races of the season as a sub for Hardwick, who was recovering from a concussion, although was not in the car at the most recent points-paying full-season GTD race at Mid-Ohio.
“Massive thank you to John and the entire Wright Motorsports team, 1st Phorm, and Ryan Hardwick for having me back in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R,” Hindman said. “It’s been an honor to work with this team, Patrick, and Jan throughout Daytona and Sebring. I’m grateful to be back in an extended capacity.”
Hardwick added: “I expect our GTD program to pick up right where we left off the last time Patrick, Trent and Jan were all in the car together at Sebring.
“The GTD class is probably more competitive now than ever before, and I’m confident that we’ve put together one of the best teams in the paddock. It’s going to be a fun and exciting remainder of the season.”