Following the retirement of Pat Long, team owner John Wright has recruited his Michelin Pilot Challenge driver – and previously, IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup ace – Heylen as a full-time IMSA GTD pilot, alongside Hardwick. The latter missed all but one WTSC race last season after a heavy shunt at Daytona but competed alongside Heylen for much of the team’s ultimately successful Pilot Challenge season.
The championship-winning pair will be joined in the four endurance rounds by Zacharie Robichon, who won the IMSA GTD title in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche this year.
“Though the 2021 season just ended a few weeks ago, we’re already in full preparation mode for 2022,” said Wright. “I’m thrilled to be able to announce that our program is returning with the same support we have from our partners 1st Phorm, Una Vida Tequila, and Mountain Motorsports, with Ryan and Jan as drivers.
“Ryan Hardwick is a huge part of our team’s success this year, and I’m excited for us to build on that in 2022 with him returning to race in GTD, for a third year with Wright Motorsports. Consistency in excellence and execution has been the focal point of our program for many years, and I’m thrilled to have Ryan and our partners back for a third season together.”
Hardwick, who with Long finished second in the 2020 GTD drivers’ championship, said: “The 2021 season didn’t quite go as planned for me personally. After a major setback in Daytona to start the year, I put my entire focus squarely on our Michelin Pilot Challenge GS program, and along with my teammate Jan Heylen, we accomplished our goal of winning the team and driver championships in that series.
“Now for 2022, I am directing all my energy and focus back on our primary GTD program. I’m super-pumped to share the #16 car again this year with Jan Heylen, who has been by my side ever since I first drove a Porsche GT3 R at the Encore in Sebring way back in 2019.
“I’m also excited to welcome Zach Robichon to our team this year! Zach is a fierce competitor, as well as the reigning GTD class champion. He will be a strong addition to our lineup and will no doubt help defend our team’s Michelin Endurance Cup championship title. I can’t wait to get back to Daytona in January. I’ve got some unfinished business to handle at that track and really looking forward to the challenge.”
Said Heylen, “I’m really excited, and I know this goes for the whole team, to continue this relationship with Ryan and 1st Phorm. We’re coming off of a strong season in GT4 with Ryan as my teammate, to now go back to a full season with Ryan in GTD.
“Ryan is the guy that is making all this happen, so I’m grateful for this opportunity. This will be my eighth year with Wright Motorsport, and it means a lot to be a part of this team, especially with John Wright and Bobby Vigilone’s support.
“Patrick Long contributed to this, introducing me to Wright and to Ryan, so I’m very grateful. I’m excited to be kicking off the year with one of my favorite races at Daytona. We have some unfinished business there, with a few podiums but not yet the top step. I’m looking forward to going back and coming away with a good result.”
Robichon, 29, added: “Ryan and Jan will be tough competitors for everyone in the overall GTD championship, and I’ll do everything I can to help them achieve their goals in the overall classification. I’ve spent a few years competing against this team, and I know how strong they are, the opportunity for myself to join this lineup is one I don’t take for granted and the season can’t come soon enough!”