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Michelin Pilot Challenge

Heylen in “Really Good Place” in GS Championship Battle

Wright Motorsports driver on GS championship chase entering Friday’s title decider…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Jan Heylen believes he’s in a “really good place” heading into Friday’s title-deciding IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with only a 30-point deficit on GS championship leaders Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern.

The Wright Motorsports driver, who is coming off victories in the last two races in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport that he shares with Ryan Hardwick, has momentum on his side entering the two-hour Fox Factory 120 race.

Heylen has gained 230 points on the Turner duo over the past two races.

“We’ve had an amazing season with a few ups and downs, but it has been super fun fighting back to get back to being second in the championship,” he said. “It has been a fun season together with Ryan.

“We’re in a really good place going into the last race with a very good chance of winning the championship, which, being a home race for Ryan, makes it extra special.

“It has been such good fun racing against everybody and I’m excited to go there and fight it out with the BMW and hopefully continue to do what we’ve been doing all season.”

Heylen said he and Hardwick will be focused on being “consistent” through the sessions in order to come out ahead of the No. 96 BMW M4 GT4, which has faced a string of bad luck in recent races.

“Whatever the outcome, it’s been an amazing experience to do this with Wright Motorsports, Porsche, and Ryan,” Heylen said. “We hope for the best result, regardless, and I’ve had a really good time this year driving in GT4.

“Hopefully there’s more to come.”

Hardwick, who has been forced to miss several Pilot Challenge races due to an injury and positive COVID-19 test, sits 13th in the GS drivers’ standings, putting all of his focus behind his co-driver and the team.

The No. 16 Porsche missed the season-opening four-hour enduro at Daytona due to Hardwick’s crash.

“To think that our team has a shot to win the title at Road Atlanta is really humbling when you consider that we missed the first race at Daytona entirely,” Hardwick said.

“We have fought hard at every single race thereafter and have clawed our way all the way through the highly competitive GS class field to now have a shot at the overall championship.

“Personally, I couldn’t wish for a better scenario than to compete for an overall championship at my home track, in front of so many friends and family from Atlanta.

“Our Wright Motorsports team has been in championship form all year, and we are all looking forward to this final race.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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