Wright Motorsports announced Thursday morning (Jan. 28) that Ryan Hardwick (pictured last November at the IMSA banquet in Sebring) suffered a concussion in a crash in Wednesday’s opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice session at Daytona International Speedway. As a result, he will not be cleared to return to the driver’s seat for the remainder of the Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend.
For the team’s Michelin Pilot Challenge effort, it is game over. The team’s new Porsche Cayman GT4 MR was damaged too badly to be repaired at the track. The No. 16 has been withdrawn from Friday’s race.
In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Hardwick was also scheduled to be part of the team’s effort in their 1st Phorm-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 R. Since Hardwick cannot drive, the team has hired Trent Hindman to substitute for this weekend.
Hardwick was kept overnight in the hospital for observation following his crash. He is currently in stable condition. That said, he is disappointed that he won’t be able to race this weekend.
“It’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to join the team for the big race,” Hardwick said in a press release. “I wish I was driving with them, but sadly that won’t be possible. When I first learned I wouldn’t be able to drive, Trent [Hindman] was immediately one of the first drivers I thought of to step [in]. I want the team to continue and our 1st Phorm car to be on track to compete in this event. I’ve followed Trent’s career for the last few years, and I think he’ll be a good fit. Trent is joining a really great team, and I wish them the best of luck this weekend. He’s in the best hands.”
In Hindman, Wright Motorsports gets the 2019 GT Daytona class co-champion (with Mario Farnbacher). He has one career class victory (the 2019 Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen) and nine podium finishes in 21 career WeatherTech starts. In the Rolex 24 at Daytona, he has two second-place finishes in class. They came in 2017 in the former PC class and 2018 in GT Daytona for Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian.
Hindman currently races full-time in both IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge for Archangel Motorsports alongside Alan Brynjolfsson. Hindman is happy that Hardwick is going to be ok, but he knows that he’s stepping into a decent situation.
“Filling in for the Rolex 24 under these circumstances is never ideal, but I am grateful to John [Wright], Ryan, and the Wright Motorsports team for trusting me with this opportunity,” Hindman said. “The No. 16 Porsche looks to be a strong contender for victory come Sunday, and I certainly look forward to doing everything I can to make it happen.”
Hindman will be ready to go for the first WeatherTech practice session. This is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Thursday morning and will be 60 minutes in length.