GT3 Team News - Wright Motorsports Kuhlman and Landry Record Strong Results in Utah
TOOELE, May 4, 2011: Two Porsches fielded by Wright Motorsports of Batavia, Ohio recorded strong results in twin 45-minute IMSA GT3 Challenge by Yokohama races last weekend at Miller Motorsports Park.
Kasey Kuhlman of Cincinnati finished ninth in Saturday’s race and eighth in Sunday’s race. He drives the Wright Motorsports No. 15, which is sponsored by Kuhlsport and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati. He competes in the top class, called the Platinum Cup class, which consists of 2011 and 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
His teammate, Mitch Landry of Lake Charles, La., drove Wright Motorsports’ entry in the Gold Cup class, which is open to Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars manufactured from the second half of 2005 through 2009. His No. 54, which is sponsored by VersaCrane and Deep South Crane & Rigging, finished fifth in class on Saturday and fourth in class on Sunday. In addition, Landry earned the “Hard-Charger” award for Sunday’s race.
Neither Kuhlman nor Landry had competed at Miller Motorsports Park before this event, so they had the added challenge of learning the course.
Mother Nature threw another challenge at the competitors when it snowed on Friday. Qualifications were scrubbed and the starting line-up for Saturday’s race was set by each driver’s fastest time recorded in Thursday’s practice sessions.
Kuhlman started 11th on Saturday, while Landry started 26th overall and fourth in the Gold Cup class. Both got excellent starts. Kuhlman dodged a big bullet when four drivers around him crashed on the first lap to bring out a full-course yellow on lap two.
The green waved again on lap 5, about 14 minutes into the race, with Kuhlman in seventh place. He had a good battle with Fernando Pena and Carlos Kauffmann until he dropped back to 16th place on lap eight and had to start his charge once again.
By lap 13 with 29 minutes gone in the 45-minute race he was 12th. At that point Kuhlman was consistently running faster lap times than the three drivers directly ahead of him, and he was able to pass Eduardo Cisneros for 11th on lap 15.
On lap 17 he posted his fastest lap of the race, turning the 3.048-mile road course in 1:56.711. That was just 1.1 second slower than the new race lap record Henrique Cisneros established on lap 18 enroute to his second-place finish.
That lap was important for Kuhlman too, as he moved into the top 10 on that circuit when he passed another competitor. Kuhlman then advanced to ninth on the next lap when he passed Randy Oswald. The eighth-place driver, Alex Welch, was 2.653 seconds ahead of him when time ran out with 21 laps complete.
A little further back in the pack Landry was battling Frank Selidorff throughout the event. Landry ran in fifth place in the Gold Cup division for most of the race and that’s where he finished, but he was just 0.266 of a second behind Selidorff’s Platinum-class Porsche when Tim McKenzie took the checkered flag to win the race wire-to-wire.
Landry’s best lap on Saturday was a 1:58.863.
The grid for Sunday’s race was set by each driver’s fastest race lap on Saturday, but both Kuhlman and Landry had identical starting spots for both races. The only slight difference was that Landry started fifth in class on Sunday instead of fourth, but his overall starting position was the same.
Unlike Saturday’s race there were no full-course cautions on Sunday. Kuhlman dropped back a few places at the start but by lap three he was in 12th position, battling Jim Norman and Rich Walton. He passed Norman for 11th on lap six with about 11 minutes gone, and he moved into the top 10 with 14 laps gone when Carlos Kauffmann, who had led the race earlier, dropped back.
At that point Kuhlman was duking it out with Alex Welch, the driver who finished ahead of him 24 hours earlier. It was a different story on Sunday, however, as Kuhlman passed Welch for ninth place with 15 laps in the books. He set his fastest lap of the race in the process with a time of 1:56.629. Just like Saturday that was only 1.1 seconds off the fastest lap of the race, which was another new track record when the second-place finisher, Brian Wong, ran a 1:55.502 on lap 18.
At that point there was about 15 minutes remaining in the race for Kuhlman to see if he could advance any further. He did just that with 22 laps down in what turned out to be a 24-lap race when he passed Michael Schein for eighth place, and then he went on to post his second top-10 finish of the weekend.
On Sunday Landry had his hands full right off the bat as he battled Glen Gatlin, Madison Snow and Eduardo Cisneros. By lap 14 he was fourth in class, but he moved up to third with 18 laps gone and about 11 minutes remaining in the race when he passed Gatlin.
Gatlin was having none of that, however, and he regained third from Landry with 19 laps down. The field got more spread out in the remaining laps and Landry was still in fourth place, 4.3 seconds behind Gatlin, when the checkered waved. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the IMSA officials, however, as they awarded Landry with the race’s “Hard-Charger” award.
Landry’s fastest race lap on Sunday occurred on lap six when he turned a 1:58.945.
“After such a disappointing and dramatic end to our Sebring trip, I really needed to put together a solid weekend and bring the car home in one piece,” Kuhlman summarized afterwards. “Never having been to Miller created the added pressure of having to learn the track and come up to speed in a short time. Other drivers know the place well, so they have an advantage.
“Considering the less-than-ideal weather conditions, I was very pleased with our ability to get the car sorted out and competitive,” Kuhlman continued. “Our second practice was cut short by snow, so every lap on track was crucial.
“In both races we ran on pace with the leader,” he added. “I feel great coming out of this event with two top-10 finishes and the car in perfect shape.
“This is a great race track,” Kuhlman noted. “With this successful maiden voyage under my belt I look forward to coming back here again next year. John Wright and my crew chief, Paul Nicely, were fantastic, as always. Professional coaching from B.J. Zacharias of Downshift Motorsports Group was instrumental in my success as well.”
“We weren’t counting on using practice as our qualifying time, but it wasn’t too bad,” Landry said. “We got a fifth on Saturday. On Sunday we were 4 or 5 seconds off the leaders, so we felt pretty good about getting fourth place. We’re looking forward to building on that for the rest of the season.
“It was super-tight in the first turn at the start of Saturday’s race,” Landry added. “We didn’t touch anybody but it was only inches between the cars I was running with. There was a wreck ahead of us but I couldn’t believe how close we were to each other without hitting.
“In Sunday’s race I had to run off the track off Turn 3 on the first lap to avoid somebody, but I don’t think I lost any ground,” Landry added. “That was pretty hairy. It was just close, hard racing.
“With no full-course cautions on Sunday the pace was intense,” he noted. “I didn’t get tired, but I remember them telling me on the radio that we had 30 minutes left and I thought we’d already been out there for 30 minutes.
“I think we moved up to third at one point, but then we fell back to fourth at the end. It was nice to get the ‘Hard-Charger’ award though,” Landry added.
The next event will feature just one race instead of two but a large crowd will be guaranteed because it will be a support event to the Formula 1 race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec June 10-12.
For more information see the team’s Web site at wrightmotorsports.com and the series’ Web site at imsachallenge.com.