With the first two endurance races of 2023 complete, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads into its first of seven sprint races of the year, beginning with this weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach. In Saturday’s 100-minute race, the Wright Motorsports No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman, will make its street-racing debut, as downtown Long Beach, California transforms from a waterfront city to a professional motor racing circuit.
“Long Beach is always an exciting event, and it has an energy all its own,” said Team Owner John Wright. “The tight nature of the course adds a level of excitement and trepidation, as there’s little room to escape the errors of your competitors. The drivers and crew of the Wright Motorsports Porsche have had two clean and consistent runs so far this year, and we know Long Beach will be no different. The key to a successful season is being smooth and consistent, and that’s where we excel.”
With the Queen Mary watching just over 1,000 feet across the Los Angeles River, the streets will come alive with a full weekend of racing. The 1.968-mile circuit holds 11 turns, weaving around the Long Beach Convention Center, and racing along the waterfront of the Pacific Ocean. A hairpin turn and a high-speed straightaway never fail to deliver exciting action, usually resulting in contact among competitors. With tight concrete walls blocking off the roads of the downtown area, the temporary street circuit puts heavy pressure on the competitors who have none of the usual runoff areas to avoid race traffic or potential calamity. Due to the tight, congested nature of the street circuit, only three of the five IMSA WeatherTech classes will compete in the event: GTP, GTD Pro, and GTD. A total of 28 entries will compete in the sprint race on Saturday, with the GTD class again making up the majority of the field with 15 cars.
The Long Beach Grand Prix stands as the shortest race on the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, at a run time of just 100 minutes. Due to the variety of series competing in the event located in a downtown area, the Grand Prix of Long Beach attracts a wide variety of spectators from the die-hard race fan to the group of locals looking for fun activity. The weekend will consist of just two days of on-track activity, with both practice sessions and one qualifying session taking place on Friday, April 14. Tickets are available at www.gplb.com, while fans attending can watch live on USA Network and streaming on Peacock from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET on Saturday, April 15.
Long Beach is a tight circuit and our shortest race of the year. Track position and quick pit stops are going to be key. With all our practices and qualifying happening on one day, Friday will be important. Then on Saturday I’ll have a lot of local family and friends coming to the track, so I look forward to putting on a good show.
The desire to get back racing has been building since the finish of last month’s Twelve Hours of Sebring. There have been a ton of great lessons learned, and applied, over the last four weeks that continue to improve the performance of our Wright Motorsports Porsche. Though we transition from our two longest races of the season directly into the shortest of the year, our approach as a team remains the same and we’ll certainly be in the hunt for a significant result.
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