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.