On Friday afternoon, Wright Motorsports’ No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R shared by Patrick Long and Marc Lieb led flag-to-flag to win Race No. 1 of the Grand Prix of Lime Rock Park for the Sprint-X class. In addition, the No. 16 Porsche of Michael Schein and Jan Heylen won the Pro-Am division, allowing for a festive day at Wright Motorsports.
Despite leading flag-to-flag, things were not easy for Long at all. Early on in the race, Magnus Racing’s Spencer Pumpelly was able to get past CRP Racing’s Daniel Morad for second. With the help of lapped traffic, Pumpelly was able to track down Long and a great battle ensued.
Both cars had their own strengths and weaknesses.
“[Our Porsche] was stronger] in the medium-speed, direction change turns,” Long told Frontstretch after the race. In this case, that means turns 1-4 (Big Bend, and the left-right complex immediately afterwards). “When you transition from the right to left to right, we seemed to make a little bit of a gain on [Pumpelly] there.
“[Pumpelly] was really strong in the chicane and the [Diving Turn],” Long continued. “So, it was a bit of yin and yang, but it really came down to traffic management. We both had to realize that if you put everything on the line, it could end in tears. I think there was a mutual respect out there.
A couple of drivers that might not have mutual respect out on track for each other any longer are Cadillac Racing’s Ricky Taylor and GMG Racing’s Matthew Halliday. Just after the mid-race pit stops, Halliday got into the back of Ricky’s No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R. entering Big Bend. Ricky spun the No. 3 and backed into the tires. The wet grass meant that Ricky could not get back going without assistance, resulting in the only full course caution of the race.
Ricky was ok, but there was a delay of a couple of laps before the yellow came out. That, combined with the work necessary to get him out of the tires meant that he was six laps down by the time he got the No. 3 Cadillac to the pits. The crash caused some rear suspension issues that forced a long pit stop. Ricky would eventually return to the race, but he finished 13 laps down in 26th overall.
The caution neutralized the field with multiple lapped cars between Lieb and Dane Cameron in the Magnus Racing No. 4. That allowed Lieb to pull away to a five-second victory with minimal prompting.
K-PAX Racing’s No. 9 McLaren for Ben Barnicoat and Àlvaro Parente came from seventh on the grid to finish third overall, 20 seconds back at the finish. Parente had to make use of a series of aggressive moves to make up for lost time. Cadillac Racing’s No. 8 for Michael Cooper and Jordan Taylor were fourth, while RealTime Racing’s No. 43 Acura for Tom Dyer and Ryan Eversley rounded out the top five.
In GT Pro-Am, Always Evolving Racing/AIM Autosport’s Frankie Montecalvo started on pole in the No. 75 Nissan, but he was quickly overtaken by Schein in the No. 16. From there, the goal was simply to expand the advantage. Once Heylen got in the car, he only had to do what he does best to claim the class victory. In GT Am-Am, NGT Motorsports’ Tyler McQuarrie and Henrique Cisneros led flag-to-flag in their Ferrari 458 GT3 to claim the class victory (16th overall).
GT Cup saw the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo of Alessandro Bressan and Yuki Harata claim the victory. Tool Racing’s Erich Joiner and Andy Lee were second. Finally, Case-It Racing’s Adam Merzon and Trent Hindman won the GTS class by over a full lap over the VOLT Racing Ford Mustang GT4 of Alan Brynjolfsson and Chris Hall.
By virtue of Long turning in the fastest overall lap of the race (52.278 seconds, 101.504 mph), Lieb will start from the pole for Race No. 2 on Saturday. Pumpelly’s best lap (on lap five of 63) was only four-thousandths of a second slower. As a result, Cameron will start second and the battle will begin anew.