Ford Sweeps Front Row In GTLM Qualifying At Watkins Glen
As the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship celebrates the Fourth of July this weekend at Watkins Glen International, it’ll be an all-American first two rows leading the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class to the green flag Sunday in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
A pair of Ford GTs will lead a pair of Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs ahead of the remaining GTLM field to start the six-hour race with Richard Westbrook on pole with a lap of one minute, 41.948 seconds (120.061 mph) in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. He’ll be joined by teammate and 2017 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen pole winner Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry on the front row.
“I knew Joey was going to make me work hard for it,” said Westbrook. “And he’s beaten me too many times in qualifying in the last two years, so I finally get back on him. We didn’t have a pole the first year, but the last year in the Ford we had plenty. Just happy to keep it going.”
Westbrook’s pole was his second at Watkins Glen (2016) and his sixth in the WeatherTech Championship, moving him into fourth on the WeatherTech Championship career poles list. It also extended Ford’s streak of GTLM poles at the track to three.
Given his and Ford’s recent success at the track, it’s no surprise that Westbrook considers Watkins Glen one of his favorite circuits. Westbrook won the race in the Prototype class and overall in 2014 and 2015, and took the GTLM win in the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
“This whole track is cool,” Westbrook added. “It’s just an amazing part of motorsports history and the fact that it just keeps going and keeps delivering. The new surface is awesome. We love coming here and hope to keep coming back here.”
Westbrook continuously posted quicker laps throughout the 15-minute session, ultimately topping Hand’s lap of 1:42.059 by just 0.111 seconds.
Another 0.3 seconds back was the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner with a lap of 1:42.365, who edged out the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia. Both Milner and Garcia jumped into the second row on the final lap of the session, topping a pair of Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSRs.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is the midway point of the WeatherTech Championship season and the third round of the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. The Patrón Endurance Cup rewards top performers in the four WeatherTech Championship endurance races: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Hawksworth, Lexus Take Second Motul Pole Award of Season
Amidst a breakout season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Lexus continued to show plenty of speed at Watkins Glen International on Saturday as Jack Hawksworth delivered the manufacturer’s second GT Daytona (GTD) Motul Pole Award of the season ahead of Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
Driving the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3, Hawksworth hung around the top of the time charts throughout the 15-minute qualifying session, ultimately ending up first with a time of one minute, 44.499 seconds (117.130 mph).
“It was an interesting (session),” said Hawksworth, who co-drives with David Heinemeier Hansson. “Normally, this year we’ve felt really happy with the balance of the car the minute we roll off the truck, but we kind of stalled with it this weekend. Didn’t know what to expect, but the guys did a great job and turned the car around and I was pretty happy with the car in qualifying.”
Lexus’ first pole of the season came back at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May, also at the hands of Hawksworth. The No. 15 and its sister car, the No. 14 of Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli, led every lap of that race, with the No. 14 delivering Lexus’ first win in the WeatherTech Championship. The No. 14 qualified third for Sunday’s six-hour race.
“Obviously, it was a great performance at Mid-Ohio and a great victory for the team,” said Hawksworth. “Alongside that and all the highlights, we’ve run top five pretty much everywhere we’ve gone. The car’s been fast, it’s been reliable, and the execution from the team has been a lot better this year. As a team, we’ve evolved in every department and obviously you can see the results with how things have gone this year. It’s certainly very promising.”
Starting between the two Lexus race cars will be the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3, a team entered in the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events on the WeatherTech Championship schedule. Christopher Mies qualified the car and will share driving duties at with Sheldon van der Linde.
Additionally, the top eight cars – made up of six different manufacturers – in the 18-car GTD field were all within one second of Hawksworth’s time.
Porsche 911 RSR take up six-hour race from third grid row
The two Porsche 911 RSR head into the six-hour Watkins Glen race in the US state of New York from the third grid row. In the 15-minute qualifying for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Earl Bamber set the fifth quickest time in the GTLM class with a time of 1:42.507 minutes. Patrick Pilet planted the #911 car directly behind. Shortly before the end of the qualifying session, which took place in sunshine and a temperature of 30-degree Celsius, both ca. 510 hp vehicles had locked out the second grid row, only to be out-qualified by the competition in the final seconds.
The Porsche GT Team tackles round five of North America’s premier race series on Sunday on the tradition-steeped 5.472 kilometre racetrack. For the long-distance race over six hours, New Zealander Bamber and Belgian Laurens Vanthoor share the cockpit of the #912 car, with Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) driving the sister car. In the strongly represented GTLM class, in which four automobile manufacturers fight for honours, Porsche currently ranks first in the manufacturers’ category after four races and two victories.
Steffen Höllwarth, Porsche Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship: “Until 20 minutes before the end of the session we’d counted on the second grid row. Then the situation in the qualifying changed. Still, we’re not worried about the race. We performed well in the race simulation during practice. It’ll be tougher in the race compared to the qualifying. But we’re heading into the race well prepared.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912): “Positions five and six are not what we’d hoped for, but we’ll have a good car for the race. I’m confident of this. We’re expecting a temperature of 30-degrees Celsius for the race and it’ll get pretty hot in the car for us drivers. The heat puts stress on the tyres, too, but let’s see how things go.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911): “That was a difficult qualifying. We were a tiny bit off with our tyre choice, but I think we’re well sorted for the race. I like this track and we’ll do everything possible to climb the podium at the end. We have six hours to achieve this. The main thing here is to have a consistently fast car. That’s our forte.”
1. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 1:41.948 minutes
2. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, + 0.111 seconds
3. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, + 0.417 seconds
4. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, + 0.549 seconds
5. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.559 seconds
6. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, + 0.667 seconds
7. Krohn/Edwards/Blomqvist (FIN/USA/S), BMW M8 GTE, + 1.329 seconds
8. Sims/De Phillippi/Auberlen (GB/USA/USA), BMW M8 GTE, + 1.591 seconds
1. Hawksworth/Heinemeier Hansson/Farnbacher (GB/DK/D), Lexus RC F GT3, 1:44.499 minutes
2. Mies/van der Line (D/SA), Audi R8 LMS, + 0.112 seconds
3. Marcelli/Baumann (CAN/A), Lexus RC F GT3, + 0.213 seconds
8. Long/Nielsen/Renauer (USA/DK/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, + 0.930 seconds
18. Lindsey/Bergmeister (USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, did not take part in the qualifying
BMW Team RLL Qualifies Seventh and Eighth for Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
BMW Team RLL will start the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen from the seventh and eighth positions following today’s 15-minute GTLM class qualifying session. The green flag waved this afternoon at a very hot high noon and conditions are expected to be even warmer tomorrow.
In his first race weekend with BMW Team RLL, Tom Blomqvist qualified the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE seventh with a time of 1:43.227 minutes on his seventh lap of the classic Watkins Glen International circuit. Connor De Phillippi qualified the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE eighth with a 1:43.539 minute lap. The pole position was won by the No. 67 Ford GT. Blomqvist will share the No. 24 M8 with John Edwards and Jesse Krohn tomorrow and De Phillippi will co-drive the No. 25 M8 with Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims. Auberlen and Sims won the six-hour contest last year in the No. 25 BMW M6 GLTM.
Last year, the two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races at Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park resulted in two wins for BMW Team RLL – the first two of four victories for the BMW M6 GLTM racing program in 2017.
No. 25 M8 GTE fulltime co-drivers De Phillippi and Sims stand sixth in GTLM driver points, while No. 24 M8 GTE fulltime drivers Edwards and Jesse Krohn stand eighth. BMW holds the fourth spot in GTLM manufacturer points.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a challenge in terms of performance for us.” said Brandon Fry, BMW Team RLL Technical and Racing Operations Director. “We continue making performance improvements to both BMW M8 GTE’s and will keep looking at things tonight, looking forward to tomorrow. It’s going to be hot and that is going to make things difficult for everyone, but having three drivers, will be an advantage we feel. Tomorrow is a long race, which is something we like so we will be looking for opportunities and we are going to give it our best”
Tom Blomqvist, driver No. 24 BMW M8 GTE (P7):
“The car, in general is good. Our qualifying performance wasn’t up to par today but we are banking on having a consistent car tomorrow. Tire wear can be an issue for some teams, and we have focused on our durability and will try to play that durability card tomorrow in the race. We have extracted the most out of the chassis but there are a lot of straightaways and we can only do so much with the power we have. We can only hope to improve here and there, use BMW M8 GTE’s very good drivability and focus on out-thinking the competition.”
Connor De Phillippi, driver No. 25 BMW M8 GTE (P8):
“Qualifying was fine in regards to the heat because we aren’t doing many laps so you don’t have time to really feel the heat. Last time I drove the BMW M8 GTE was at Spa in the rain where the heat wasn’t as bad as it is here this weekend. It is going to be an interesting race to deal with due to the heat but at the end of the day it’s the same for everyone, so it shouldn’t really be a problem for us. We’re supposed to be young, fit and able to deal with that stuff. We were lacking a bit of speed in qualifying so there wasn’t really much more we could do in that respect. Looking forward to the race, we just need to see how things will develop. We’re not hoping for miracles but if we can stay out of trouble and avoid mistakes, we’ll see where we end up.”
WeatherTech Racing Qualifies Sixth at The Glen
WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Jeff Segal (Miami, Fla.) and Gunnar Jeannette (Salt Lake City, Ut.) will start the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen from sixth in GTD.
Segal had the wheel of the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari for the 15-minute qualifying session that took place at noon around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn undulating road course located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The Floridian was able to post a fast lap of 1:44.812 that will have him starting the white and black WeatherTech car from the third row in the GTD class. The heat index for tomorrow’s race, 9:45 a.m. ET start, is expected to be over 100°F.
“I put in some good laps and the car balance was exactly what we expected,” Segal said. “The lap time was one-one-hundredth of a second faster than the mock qualifying run. I think that was about everything. Satisfying in time, but a little disappointing to be P6. The group of cars in front of us is very tight on the time sheet, so I think it is going to be a great race. We have a good car. We will see what we can do tomorrow.”
“All three drivers have been fast in the WeatherTech Ferrari,” MacNeil said. “The car is quick and the team is on it. I think we have a strong car for the race tomorrow. The Scuderia Corsa guys have been working hard all weekend. We had a good car right out of the box as a result of testing here. Continental has mandated a minimum left rear camber number that all teams have to run. That hurts us some. Car is good and the drivers are feeling good. Long race tomorrow, six hours, and it will be a hot one. We are ready.”
“It is going great,” Jeannette said. “The car is really good. We tested here, so we rolled off of the trailer in a pretty happy place. The big question will be how everyone will do in the heat. We have a good WeatherTech Ferrari. We will see how the car changes as the temperature increases throughout the six-hours of racing tomorrow.”
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing
Paul Miller Racing Confident Following Watkins Glen Qualifying
Qualifying for the next round in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge concluded Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen International. Paul Miller Racing, the GTD class points leader, qualified in seventh for Sunday’s Six Hours of the Glen.
In 90-degree temperatures and under clear skies, Madison Snow qualified the No. 48 TOTAL Lubricants/UIS Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in seventh position, with a best lap time of 1:49.429. The young American completed seven laps in the 15 minute session, braving the heat to put in consistent lap times throughout the session. While the points-leading Lamborghini lacked the outright speed desired for pole position, Snow reported to the team that the car’s handling was the best it had been all weekend, and exactly what the team needed for a strong race performance.
Proper car balance will be crucial for the six hour endurance race in order for the team to run consistent laps and strategically climb to the front. With a seven point lead, every point will count, and Paul Miller Racing’s pit strategy will be imperative for a successful race.
A longtime supporter of the United States Military through various nonprofits including Operation Motorsport and Team Never Quit, Paul Miller Racing will also host eight active duty service men and women from Fort Drum through their partnership with Full Circle House. Full Circle Home connects deployed service members with their loved ones across the country and on bases around the world, and Paul Miller Racing is honored to host their guests for this weekend’s event.
There’s definitely some positives and some negatives to take away from qualifying. I think the positive is that Madison was pleased with the car, the balance, and where we were. I thought he was able to get a pretty good lap together. Leading into the race, it’s going to be hot and difficult. Having a good car balance is everything. The fact that he’s pleased with where we’re at should give us confidence for tomorrow. The negative is that we don’t seem to have enough speed to run with the front runners. Now you end up scratching your head when the car is good, and Madison got everything out of it that he could, but we don’t know where the remainder of the lap time is. This could be one of those races where we see if it comes to us, and see if we’re better on tire life, if we can maintain pace better, and just see how the race unfolds. It would seem we don’t have the outright speed, but we have a good team, great guys doing the pit stops, and we’ll make the most of it.
I was excited going into qualifying knowing we had the best car we’ve had all weekend. Lap time wise, we did great in qualifying. You always want to be up front in qualifying, but its tough competition here. We had a lot of rear grip this morning. This afternoon in qualifying, we were a little difficult in putting the power down, but there’s always going to be some area you have to improve upon in the heat of the afternoon. We’ve never had a top three car for speed, but we’ll definitely be able to be in the top five, and be consistent, and that’s what we’ll be. It’s a longer race and consistency helps us in the long run.
Source. Paul Miller Racing
CORVETTE RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: Second-Row Sweep in GTLM Qualifying
Both Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia made their final laps in Corvette Racing’s Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs count Saturday in qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The Corvette Racing teammates filled out the second row in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) category for Sunday’s round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Tommy Milner was third-fastest in GTLM with a lap of 1:42.365 (119.572 mph) in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, which he shares with Oliver Gavin. Milner’s final pass around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course moved him from sixth to third and within 0.417 seconds of the class pole-winning entry.
Not long after Milner clicked off his best lap, Antonio Garcia went to fourth in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R with a lap of 1:42.497 (119.418 mph). That came after a spin early in the session for Garcia at the Bus Stop chicane. It left the Corvette with relatively harmless damage, and after some feedback from team engineers and feeling out the handling of the car, Garcia pressed on. Garcia and teammate Jan Magnussen were winners at Watkins Glen in 2014 with the No. 3 Corvette.
Saturday’s results marked Corvette Racing’s best combined qualifying showing at The Glen since the team made its WGI debut in 2014. The top six GTLM cars were within 0.667 seconds with only 0.25 seconds covering third through sixth.
The on-track competition won’t be the only thing that Corvette Racing will fight Sunday. Record-breaking temperatures will approach 100F, which will put incredible stress on the drivers along with the pit crews and engineers.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is the start of a critical three-race stretch in four weeks for Corvette Racing, which is seeking to defend its GTLM championships in America’s premier sports car series. Both Corvette C7.Rs will run in a special patriotic livery this weekend ahead of Independence Day. For the past 20 years, Corvette Racing has been proud to field an American team from an American manufacturer with an American sports car.
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED THIRD IN GTLM: “That feels like a pole position with how the lap came about there. It was pretty difficult to start with on the run with a little bit of a balance issue. I don’t know if it was knowing it was the last lap, but the balance came to me just a little bit. Maybe it went too far the other way in some sense, but I looked at the lap predictor coming out of the Carousel, and it was good. That gave me a little extra motivation to keep pushing and not make a mistake. We still have some work to do in thinking about the car and making it last in heat. But yes… third place is a great place to start from for us.”
ON LONG RUNS: “The conditions from when we did our long runs in practice was when it was not quite as hot as it will be Sunday, so it’s a bit of an unknown. Looking at our competitors, the two cars ahead of us look quite strong. We have spent a lot of time thinking about long-run pace and getting an idea about where we may stand.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED FOURTH IN GTLM: “That was lucky! I didn’t give up saving the car until I touched the wall. We don’t exactly know what the damage is, but I thought it was game over. But our engineers said everything look good, and it felt OK to me once I was rolling again. It definitely compromised things a little bit because I wasn’t quite as confident and I didn’t want to do that again. But our car is very strong. Being on the second row with both our Corvettes is very decent compared to past years. We will hope for a good race tomorrow. I think we can be strong.”
RACE OUTLOOK: “Other than the off in qualifying, we have run solidly through all our practice plans. The car is good. The conditions we were have been running in are difficult, and the conditions tomorrow will be even worse. We are doing what we need to do to prepare for the race. We are in a good spot for tomorrow.”
Source. Corvette Racing
Top-Five Qualifying Run for Meyer Shank Racing at the Glen
Meyer Shank Racing locked in its starting positions in the second and third rows ahead of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen during qualifying on Friday during a warm Saturday afternoon session.
With six hours of flat out racing scheduled on Sunday (live FS1 coverage starting at 9:30 a.m. ET) for the massive massive 42-car field, Meyer Shank Racing dialed in its dual Acura NSX GT3 entries for the 15-minute qualifying run.
Lawson Aschenbach took over qualifying duties of the red, white and blue liveried No. 93 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 while Alvaro Parente qualified the custom black SiriusXM design of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.
With temperatures cresting over 85 degrees – the hottest of the race weekend so far – the MSR squad made set up changes accordingly. Both Aschenbach and Parente knew that there was a small window of time to maximize the performance of the Continental Tires to get the most out of the short session.
Both Aschenbach and Parente laid down their fast lap on lap four with Aschenbach clocking in a lap of 1:44.778-seconds – good enough for fifth – and Parente with a 1:44.742-seconds – locking him into fourth in the order.
If the qualifying margins in the once again hyper-competitive GTD field – one-tenth separating positions two through six – are any indication of what’s to come during tomorrow’s six hour classic, the race will deliver for the healthy crowd of fans on the hand for the traditional IMSA event.
“I think we had a really great set up for qualifying today,” said Aschenbach. “I really gave it everything we had on this set of tires. We’ve worked hard on our set ups to be able to manage the longevity of these tires and hopefully it will pay off for us in the race. It’s a long race, so a top five in qualifying is great. It will be physically a tough race tomorrow with the heat, but that’s what we train for so I’m feeling prepared.”
Parente, who made his first qualifying run of the season, held third through the final moments of the qualifying session until ultimately getting bumped to a fourth place starting spot for tomorrow’s race.
“It’s a little bit better than we thought when we managed to get a clean run there on that qualifying session,” said Parente. “It’s a six hour race so we will see what we can do since qualifying doesn’t matter too much. It felt good, we had a good qualifying session and now we are focusing 100% on the race and looking forward to having a good, clean race.”
Source. Sunday Group
Braun Leads Front-Row Sweep of LMP2 Cars for Watkins Glen Motul Pole Award
Colin Braun was just 0.006 seconds quicker than Paul Di Resta in qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on a warm Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen International, but that was just enough to give the Texan his first Motul Pole Award in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class.
Braun lapped the 3.4-mile upstate New York circuit in one minute, 32.350 seconds (132.539 mph) in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 car, breaking Pipo Derani’s year-old track record of 1:34.405 in the Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi. While it was Braun’s first pole in WeatherTech Championship Prototype class competition, it was his seventh pole in the series as he previously raced in the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.
Overall, it was his 16th pole in IMSA competition (seven in the WeatherTech Championship, three GRAND-AM and six American Le Mans Series). He’ll share the car in Sunday’s race with Romain Dumas – who posted the fastest time in Friday’s practice – and Jon Bennett.
“That’s great,” Braun said. “You know, these guys did a nice job. We obviously had a good test here a couple of weeks ago which I think allowed us yesterday to give a lot of time to Romain. He did a great job, was quick in practice, quickest in practice.
“We honestly haven’t really worked too much on the race car. This is the first time I’ve gone on new tires all week, so it’s unknown what we were going to have balance-wise. I’m just happy for the guys, they’ve
been working their butts off.”
Di Resta turned a best lap of 1:32.356 (132.530 mph) in the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2 machine that he is co-driving with Phil Hanson and Bruno Senna. It is the team’s first WeatherTech Championship appearance since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March.
Ricky Taylor was the quickest of the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) drivers, qualifying third in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 at 1:32.638 (132.127 mph). He and co-driver Helio Castroneves are pursuing their third consecutive podium result after taking their first victory two races ago in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio and second place at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle earlier this month.
Dane Cameron put the other Acura Team Penske fourth on the starting grid with a best lap of 1:32.782 (131.922 mph) in the No. 6 Acura DPi he shares with Juan Pablo Montoya, and Simon Trummer completed the top five at 1:33.016 (131.590 mph) in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 machine. Trummer shares the car affectionately known as the “Banana Boat” with Robert Alon and Nelson Panciatici.
Cadillac Racing Teams Ready to Battle at The Glen
Cadillac V-Performance Racing team Konica Minolta Cadillac will start the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen from the fourth row for tomorrow’s 9:45 a.m. ET start. The Whelen Engineering Cadillac will start 11th, Spirit of Daytona Cadillac 12th and the Mustang Sampling Cadillac will take the start from 14th.
Renger Van Der Zande had the wheel of the black No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for the 15-minute qualifying session at the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International Raceway located in upstate New York. The Dutchman was able to post a fast lap of 1:33.538 that will have him come to the green flag from the fourth row in the Daytona Prototype category.
The teams will also be battling the heat, which will play a roll in the race with temperatures in the Finger Lakes region expected to exceed 100°F tomorrow for six-hours of racing.
“We knew it was not going to be easy here at Watkins Glen,” Van Der Zande said. “Free practice one and two were like a bit of a surprise to be P2 and so close. But we came here with a very good basic set-up. We improved a lot since Mid-Ohio and Detroit. Brian (Pillar) our engineer and our whole group, it’s so nice that we work on it together and I think we found something. So, that’s really good. Going into this qualifying, we’re happy to be in the top-10, and we’re happy to be P8. Looking at our other competition here, it’s the other Cadillacs and I think we’re quite a bit in front of them, so that’s a good thing. It’s a long race. I feel quite happy with the car. Let’s see what the heat will bring to all of us, if we are struggling with the heat or not. I have quite a bit of confidence to get through this race with a good result.”
Felipe Nasr had the controls of the No. 31 Whelen Engineer Cadillac DPi-V.R and posted a time of 1:33.716 and will start 11th with teammates Eric Curran and Mike Conway.
“We made the right adjustments through the weekend in regards to top speed,” Nasr said. “It requires a lot of downforce which can be tricky around a place like this. We are in the middle right now between giving and taking on top speed and downforce configurations since we are struggling compared to our competitors. I think we got all we could. The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac was the best car we had all weekend, it is stable and we were able to find pace everywhere around the track, but that was the maximum that we had on the package today. On the team side, I think we are all doing well. The drivers are happy going through the race with what we have. We have to think about the championship since we are running for two different ones this weekend. I cannot just show up and throw everything out since we have big points to play. It’s going to be a long, hot, demanding race. I know Action Express is good at calling strategy and looking after the tires and we will do the maximum we can.”
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R was wheeled by Tristan Vautier in qualifying, he put in a lap of 1:33.761 that will have he and teammate Matt McMurry starting 12th.
“The balance of performance just isn’t in our favor here,” Vautier said. “That comes and goes. We didn’t do anything crazy in terms of changes to the car, but the track changed, and it wasn’t as good for us as we had too much understeer. There was plenty of grip, we just missed the balance. But the race is long, we’ll expect plenty to happen, especially since passing will be difficult for us. We’ll do our best, we’re not the kind to just complain and wait until BOP gets better, we’ll make the most of it tomorrow.”
The points leading Mustang Sampling Cadillac team will be starting 14th based upon Filipe Albuquerque’s lap of 1:33.971. He is joined by Christian Fittipaldi and IndyCar sub Gabby Chaves in the No. 5 Cadillac.
“This is not an ideal place to start the race tomorrow, but we got everything that we could out of the car today and will just focus on what we can do as a team tomorrow,” Albuquerque said. “The race will be very hot and there will be a lot of pit stops so we will have to lean on our teamwork to move to the front tomorrow. This team is really strong and we will just focus on our execution for the race tomorrow and aim for a big result.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing
Spirit of Daytona to Start 12th in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
With a star-spangled livery celebrating our nation’s birthday, the Spirit of Daytona Racing team qualified 12th for Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, race six of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Entering the weekend with the challenge of new regulations that have seen IMSA-mandated performance adjustments that reduced the No. 90 Cadillac DPi-V.R’s horsepower earlier in the season, as well as a smaller fuel tank and fuel restrictor this weekend, drivers Tristan Vautier and Matt McMurry put the car through its paces in the three practice sessions leading up to qualifying.
On a sunny and hot day that saw air temperatures approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit (with track temps topping out at 114 degrees), Vautier took the wheel for the 15-minute qualifying session. The increased temperatures contributed to an understeer condition that left Vautier starting on the outside of Row Six for Sunday’s race.
“The balance of performance just isn’t in our favor here,” said Vautier. “That (BOP changes) comes and goes. We had too much understeer, much more than we had in practice, which was a surprise. We didn’t do anything crazy in terms of changes that would cause that, but the track changed, and it wasn’t as good for us. There was plenty of grip, we just missed the balance. But the race is long, we’ll expect plenty to happen, especially since passing will be difficult for us. We’ll do our best: we’re not the kind to just complain and wait until BoP gets better, we’ll make the most of it tomorrow.”
“We’re here to race, and the situation is what it is,” said team owner Troy Flis. “We knew we would struggle against the P2 cars here, because of the track and the aero. But I didn’t think we’d be a second and a half off them: that’s a pretty big window. We’ll go out, race them hard and do what we know best. We’ll put as much pressure on them as we can and hope some people make some mistakes. You’ll still see the good teams rise to the top, but it will require a bit more strategy and effort on our part. But we have a good team, good drivers and a good car so we’ll put our heads down, go out there and dig hard.”
Source. Sunday Group
Action Express Racing Ready to Fight Forward at Watkins Glen
On the first of two weekends that the team is carrying custom liveries honoring the United States Armed Forces, Action Express Racing is ready to fight forward in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Entering the event with the Mustang Sampling Racing and Whelen Engineering Racing entries tied atop the IMSA Prototype class championship standings, the team will look to extend its strong record of success at the fabled upstate New York track.
The 3.4-mile circuit is also playing host to the third round of the 2018 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, which sees the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing leading the standings ahead of the penultimate round of the four-race (Rolex 24 At Daytona, Sebring 12 Hour, Sahlen’s Six Hour, Petit Le Mans) championship-within-a-championship.
Debuting a spectacular Stars and Stripes livery, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran, and Mike Conway will start the race from 11th on the grid after Nasr posted a 1:33.716-seconds lap in Saturday’s 15-minute qualifying session.
“I think we got all we could in that qualifying session,” said Nasr. “The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac was the best car we have had all weekend, it is stable and we were able to find pace everywhere around the track, but that was the maximum that we had on the package today. On the team side, I think we are all doing well. We have to think about the championship since we are running for two different ones this weekend. It’s going to be a long, hot, demanding race. I know Action Express is good at calling strategy and looking after the tires and we will do the maximum we can.”
After victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Bubba Burger Grand Prix at Long Beach for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing DPi-V.R entry, the team is chasing a third consecutive victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hour event. The weekend is the first with the team for Gabby Chaves, who has been called in as part of the driver strength following an injury to Joao Barbosa in training. Chaves teams with Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque, who took the controls for the qualifying session, and will take the green flag from the seventh row after his fast lap time 1:33.971-seconds.
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry is carrying a livery that celebrates the United States, thanking our troops with iconic images celebrating all of the Armed Forces–from yesterday and today.
Albuquerque took the controls for the qualifying session, and will take the green flag from the seventh row after his fast lap time 1:33.971-seconds.
“This is not an ideal place to start the race, but we got everything that we could out of the car today and will just focus on what we can do as a team tomorrow,” said Albuquerque. “The race will be very hot and there will be a lot of pit stops so we will have to lean on our teamwork to move to the front tomorrow. This team is really strong and we will just focus on our execution for the race tomorrow and aim for a big result.”
Source. Sunday Group