Known for it’s short, fast, and unforgiving qualities, Lime Rock Park always provides a show and this year’s Pirelli World Challenge SprintX event was no exception. Michael Schein and Jan Heylen kept their podium streak alive with a victory sweep in the GT-PRO/AM category. Patrick Long and Marc Lieb started with the high of two pole positions and an overall win and ended their weekend under unfortunate circumstances with an early retirement due to contact.
The all-star pairing of Lieb and Long controlled the field during Friday’s tight schedule. Track time was limited and the weather conditions were unpredictable, but Long was able to nab a last lap flier in qualifying, placing the No.58 Porsche on pole for Race 1.
At the start of the 60-minute sprint race, Long ran with the lead and despite pressure from a charging Spencer Pumpelly, he didn’t look back. The Californian then handed the Porsche off to Lieb who was able to bridge a 6-second gap on the field and take it to the win.
With a race lap quick enough to put the No.58 Porsche back on pole for Race 2, the momentum was high. Unfortunately, that went south just moments after the drop of the green flag as a competitor edged his way into Lieb on the front straight. This sent the No.58 Porsche 911 GT3 R off the course and into a barrier, forcing an immediate retirement.
“It’s been a great working with Marc this week and trying to convince him to come out of retirement." said Long "I’m happy that we were able to score some good championship points and earn the team a win for Race 1. Race 2 was definitely a disappointment from what was otherwise a very strong weekend. From my perspective looking at the replay, the Ferrari to our right decided that he wanted to go five-wide and that doesn’t work at Lime Rock. It’s unfortunate that that ended our race, but I’m really glad that Marc is alright. We’ll bounce back from this and keep pushing towards a championship.”
Added Lieb, “I’m very happy that we were able to come away with the win in Race 1. We had a great, clean race with no incidents on track and our Porsche was fantastic. It was great for the team with good points for the championship. Race 2 was obviously the complete opposite. Just 300 meters after crossing the start/finish line, I was squeezed between two cars and hit, which sent me into the barrier. It was a really disappointing result. I feel very sorry for Pat and Wright Motorsports. We had a very good start to the weekend and they gave us a really fast car, so to end it like that was not good. I wish them the best of luck for the rest of the season and am very sure that they will bounce back at Road America.”
It was a picture perfect weekend for Schein and Heylen, who have yet to see a 2017 race off the podium in either the Sprint or SprintX format. After qualifying just 8-hundredths of a second off of the GT-PRO/AM division pole, Schein started Race 1 from the second place slot. An impressive stint by the New Yorker put the No.16 Porsche in a great position for Heylen to plant an attack on Montecalvo for the class victory.
Come time for the Race 2, Heylen was set to take the green flag from second in class once again. The Belgian was able to dice his way through traffic and hand the No.16 Porsche off to Schein in second place. It was early on in his stint that Schein dove around Pappas for the lead and held onto it to claim their second GT-PRO/AM category win of the weekend and third of the season.
“It was an awesome weekend for Jan, myself and the Wright Motorsports team." said Schein "Double win, lots of points so we’re in a good position heading into the next SprintX Round at Salt Lake City. Race 1 was a little bit less intense than the second one. I gave Jan the car in second and he made a great pass to take us to the top spot. For Race 2, Jan started second. Unfortunately, our sister car got taken out on the first lap, but Jan made a really strong charge at the start and handed it to me in second. I just had to get around one guy and brought it home in first. It was a lot of fun racing this weekend.”
“It’s been a perfect weekend for us." said Heylen "John and the guys at Wright Motorsports gave us a really great car. We passed a lot of cars in both races and had a really good platform. As always, Mike did a really great job and made it easy for me. When he passed the car off to me there was only one car that I had to overtake for the lead. I’m happy I was able to do the same in Race 2 and handed the car off to Mike in second, close to the Mercedes. It was a great points weekend for the team. It’s just too bad that the sister car had bad luck in the second race because they also had great speed. Hopefully we can build off of this momentum and take it to the next one.”
The next stop on the SprintX calendar is Utah Motorsports Campus, August 11-13, but not before Wright Motorsports shifts gears back into Sprint races at Road America and Mid-Ohio.
*From team media release
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