SALINAS, Calif., May 3 — Wright Motorsports’ Andrew Longe was never out of the top five while two more of the team’s drivers, McKay Snow and Anthony Imperato, were never out of the top 10 during a doubleheader for the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series last Friday and Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
In addition, two more of the Batavia, Ohio-based team’s drivers were on the podium after the first 45-minute race on Friday, as Fred Poordad was second in the Platinum division’s Masters classification for drivers over 45 and Philip Bloom finished second in the Gold Cup class.
Longe, of Naples, Fla., who was fifth in both halves of the season-opening doubleheader at Sebring, Fla., in March with his brand-new Trianon #47, was fifth on Friday afternoon and fourth on Saturday morning in California.
Snow, a rookie from Lehi, Utah, duplicated his best finish at Sebring when he placed sixth on Friday with his UIS Porsche GT3 Cup #63, and then held off Imperato for eighth place on Saturday in one of the best battles of the weekend.
Imperato, another rookie from Brooklyn, N.Y., continued to impress by recording two more top-10 finishes with his Henry Repeating Rifles #91. He was tenth on Friday and ninth on Saturday after a thrilling battle with his young teammate.
Poordad, of San Antonio, Texas, posted his second podium finish of the season in the Platinum class’s Masters division with a second in that category on Friday at Laguna. He finished 11th in the Platinum class on Friday and 12th in it on Saturday with his Porsche, which carries the colors of AXA Financial Advisors.
Bloom, of New York City, a rookie who drives a 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup sponsored by Tradewind Aviation and the Philip Bloom Gallery, finished second in the Gold Cup class on Friday and fourth in that class on Saturday. Friday’s run was his best result to date in the series. He was also on the Gold Cup podium at Sebring when he finished third in class there.
Friday’s race was halted by a yellow flag and subsequent red flag to clean up debris after a crash working lap three about 6 minutes into the race. There were about 21 minutes remaining in the 45-minute event when it resumed.
Snow got around the seventh-place driver shortly after the restart to fall in behind Longe. They both moved up one place working lap 14. They both set their fastest laps of the race shortly before that when Longe ran a 1:30.092 on lap 12 and Snow was timed in 1:30.090 on lap 13 as they made their way around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course.
Although Imperato finished tenth, he was just 0.201 of a second behind the ninth-place driver when the checkered flag dropped with 22 laps complete. He started 12th overall and 11th in class.
Poordad was only 0.3 of a second behind the Platinum Masters’ class leader with about 3 minutes remaining in the race, and he took the checkered flag some 5.8 seconds before the driver who finished third in Masters did.
Bloom started deep in the field on Friday, set his fastest lap of the race on lap 10, and got second in the Gold Cup division on the last lap.
In contrast to Friday’s race, Saturday’s went nonstop. The field got spread out because of it but there were still some close battles, and Wright Motorsports drivers played key roles in most of them.
Snow and Imperato’s races were good cases in point. Snow battled the driver who was seventh in the early going, and from around lap 20 through lap 25 he had a good battle with his teammate, Imperato.
Longe successfully defended his fourth-place position in the late stages of the 31-lap race, and Poordad had a strong contest around lap 26 to hold on to his position.
The next doubleheader is also an important one, as the series will support Formula 1 June 10-12 at the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles-Villenueve in Montreal, Quebec. It will be run in conjunction with the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Canada series, as will the event June 30-July 2 during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen, N.Y. Fields of approximately 40 cars are expected for both doubleheaders.
The Sebring doubleheader will be broadcast by the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s American Sports Network on May 7-8 while last weekend’s races are scheduled to air on the same network June 18-19. Check local listings for specific areas.
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:
Anthony Imperato, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I think the weekend was pretty productive. I finished tenth in the first race and ninth in the second race. I had a blast going at it with McKay in the second race. It was my first time at Laguna and I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Wright Motorsports and Henry Repeating Arms.”
Andrew Longe, Naples, Fla.: “It was a good race weekend for the Wright Motorsports team and I here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team and I continue to mesh and develop my skills as a driver, and the results continue to improve and represent the hard work we are putting in. We will be working harder than ever in the coming weeks to prepare for the remainder of the season, and I look forward to seeing the results of our hard work.”
Fred Poordad, San Antonio, Texas: “Laguna Seca is always great fun and a challenge as well. Wright Motorsports did a great job of putting a solid car under me. I didn’t get the results I had hoped for, but that was all on me. I will be ready for Montreal and plan to bring my ‘A’ game for the rest of the season.”