Wright Motorsports' Longe and Imperato Finish Third and Fourth on Sunday During Barber Porsche GT3 Cup Doubleheader

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Despite poor visibility and slippery conditions due to rain, Wright Motorsports' Andrew Longe and Anthony Imperato finished third and fourth Sunday morning in the second half of a doubleheader for the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, which was staging its first races ever at beautiful Barber Motorsports Park.

Longe, of Naples, Fla., started seventh in the 23-car field but he'd worked his way up to fourth with his Trianon Hotels #47 by lap 12 with 22 minutes remaining in the 45-minute/25-lap race. Longe and Imperato ran in fourth and fifth, respectively, for the next 10 laps until Longe passed the driver who was third following a restart on lap 22. Imperato, of Brooklyn, N.Y., got around the same driver for fourth on the following lap with his Henry Repeating Arms #91. They had no other opportunities to advance, however, because time ran out under another full-course caution for a multi-car accident in Turn 8.

Imperato recorded two top-five finishes at Barber, as he placed fifth in the first race on Saturday, which was run under dry conditions. He also had an excellent run in qualifying, as he qualified fourth, just 0.364 off the pole-winning time at the 2.30-mile, 17-turn road course.

Longe also seemed in line for a top-five finish in Friday's race until he was involved in an incident with a car he was lapping five laps from the end. He still finished the race, placing 11th in class.

Another Wright Motorsports driver, Phil Bloom of New York City, advanced three positions from where he started in his #11 to place seventh in the Platinum class on Sunday. He was the model of consistency despite the weather, as he finished eighth in class on Saturday under dry conditions after again starting tenth in class.

Young McKay Snow had several rousing battles during Sunday's race and set the fastest race lap among the Wright Motorsports squad before the Lehi, Utah-based driver finished eighth in class in the UIS #63. He took the checkered flag in seventh on Saturday, again setting the fastest lap of the race among the five drivers for the Batavia, Ohio-based team with a time that was the second-fastest posted by any of the 23 drivers in the race.

The team's representative in the Gold Cup division, series rookie Charlie Luck of Richmond, Va., finished fifth in that class on Saturday and seventh on Sunday. His goal in his first rain race ever on Sunday was to finish, which he accomplished. He's finished in the top five in class in half of the events so far this season, so he's off to a great start.

The next event is another doubleheader at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas May 4-May 6. The first 45-minute race is slated to begin at 6:40 p.m. local time on Friday, May 5, while the second race is scheduled for 11 a.m. local time on Saturday, May 6.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group airs the series' races on TV in numerous American markets. The Sebring show is coming up May 13, while the Barber doubleheader will air June 17. The broadcasts will also be available internationally on YouTube 24 hours after they air on TV.

For more information on Wright Motorsports, see WrightMotorsports.com and follow it on Facebook and Twitter. For more information on the series, see imsa.com.

 

Post-race quotes follow:

Andrew Longe, Naples, Fla.: "Luckily our weekend finished on a much higher note than it started!

"After some issues in qualifying, we had to start further down the grid than we would have liked. The first race was looking to be a promising race after a late full-course caution came out, giving me the opportunity to make up positions on the restart. All went to plan until I made a move for the fourth position and was taken out by a lapped-traffic car, and the contact ended our hopes of a podium.

"In the second race I had a great car; after a good start we showed great pace all race long. A late-race full-course caution came out which gave me the opportunity to take the third-place position on the restart. We had a great car and great pace after the restart, although another late-race full-course caution put an end to any hopes we had of moving further up the finishing order."

Anthony Imperato, Brooklyn, N.Y.: [About Sunday's late-race pass}: "Andrew got a great jump on the restart and passed Will [Hardeman] on the restart, and I followed Andrew trying to make the pass as well. I didn't quite have a good enough run and had to back out to avoid contact with Will. I had a good run coming out of Turn 2 and used the lapped traffic to my advantage and hung around the outside in Turn 5 and cleared him.

"This was definitely my best weekend in the series so far. The team did a great job preparing the car. We had good times in practice and qualifying and were in a good position for the races. In the first race I lost one position and finished fifth. In the second race I started third and lost a position and finished fourth. I would've liked to finish on the podium, but there were many positives this weekend. I'm looking forward to COTA in two weeks."

Philip Bloom, New York, N.Y.: "This being my first race at Barber Motorsports Park, I wasn't sure what to expect. After this weekend I can state that this is one of my favorite tracks in America. It's a track worthy of a pilgrimage. The scenery, the facilities, the hospitality; it's all first class.

"Praise aside, rounds three and four of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Challenge USA were action packed. Much like Sebring I fumbled qualifying a bit by missing the window of temps and pressures on my amazing Yokohama ENV-R2 tires, which had me starting Race 1 from mid-field. But going into the race I knew I had the pace to gain some spots and some much needed championship points. It wasn't until the last third of the race when a full-course yellow bunched the field up for a late-race restart that things got really interesting. The restart had lapped traffic mixed in with the leaders and when the green flag dropped for the restart mayhem ensued. I was able to capitalize, allowing me to gain a few spots to finish the race in eighth place. 

"Race two started as heavy rainfall began to clear. Due to the inclement conditions the race began with a few recon laps and a single-file rolling start. I started in P10, and much like the first race a late caution bunched the field back up, and after a wrecked car and all the debris were cleared from the track we went green. The leaders again faced lapped traffic on the restart, and by Turn 8 a big multi-car incident occurred that I managed to clear while gaining a few positions. 

"I'm really looking forward to Circuit of the Americas for rounds 5 and 6 on May 4th-6th."

Charlie Luck, Richmond, Va.: "Sunday was my first rain race ever. The goal was to finish, try lots of different lines to find the best grip, and manage the brakes and power to optimize my performance.

"Visibility was terrible at the back of the pack at the start of the race. Nothing like following the glimmer of a red tail light in front of you at 100 miles per hour and seeing nothing else. I had a blast! Thanks to all the super guys at Wright Motorsports!"

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