Patrick Long to carry on PWC title hopes in Wright Porsche

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Last week’s late and bad news that EFFORT Racing would be going on a hiatus from Pirelli World Challenge threw the hopes of Porsche factory ace Patrick Long and rising star Michael Lewis into disarray.

However as of today at least Long will be able to carry on for the remainder of the season. He currently sits fifth in points with 527 and won the season opener at Circuit of The Americas.

Porsche’s lone American factory driver has announced he’ll run for Wright Motorsports the rest of the World Challenge season.

The John Wright-led operation is one of the most capable with Porsches, having achieved a wealth of success in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup USA season.

Wright’s operation has moved into World Challenge this season with a GTA class Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Michael Schein in selected races.

“It’s unfortunate how Patrick’s program with us came together because we don’t want to capitalize on another team’s misfortunes, but we’ve worked with him many times in the past, we know he’ll be a great benefit to our team, and we’re excited to have him on board,” Wright said.

“I also want to thank Michael Schein for committing to campaign a Porsche GT3 R in Pirelli World Challenge this year,” Wright said. “That provided the infrastructure we needed to add Patrick’s car to our PWC program. Michael and Patrick have also worked together in the past, and they have a great working relationship as well.”

“This is a rare chance to take a very difficult situation and quickly turn it around,” Long said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity that John and Michael have given me. It’s been humbling, and I’m elated to be able to continue in the series with Wright Motorsports.

“I’ve worked with John in many different programs over the years, and we’ve had a lot of success together,” he added. “It’s always great to work with him and his team.”

This is good news for driver, team and the series.

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.