The record book will show that Cadillac won its sixth consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a victory at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
But this one was anybody’s race. Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque were the victors in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, taking their first victory of the season and snapping a streak of five consecutive victories by No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor.
Barbosa took the lead for the final time with nine minutes remaining, taking advantage of slower traffic to pass South African driver Stephen Simpson in the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LM P2 machine.
He then held off Simpson to win by 1.183 seconds. For Barbosa and Fittipaldi, who won the IMSA championship in 2014 and 2015, it was their seventh series victory and was the first for Albuquerque. It was Barbosa’s fourth Watkins Glen six-hour victory, the third for Fittipaldi and the second consecutive for both drivers.
“I knew if traffic could play a role in the race, I could take advantage of it,” Barbosa said. “Coming into the last corner, (Simpson) had to check-up on a GT car so I got to pull a little bit of a move into Turn 1. He gave me just enough room to go around, it was really a fun race. We raced really, really hard. The mentality going into every race is to get the win. We keep believing it.”
Simpson and the No. 85 ORECA he shared with Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller were a fixture in the top five through the second half of the race. It appeared that the No. 85 might become the first new LM P2 car to win in the WeatherTech Championship when Simpson swiped the lead from Barbosa on a restart with just over 20 minutes remaining before Barbosa returned the favor to win.
Finishing third – and securing the third podium result for the Mazda DPi program – were No. 55 Mazda RT24-P co-drivers Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot.
Fourth and fifth place went to the two other LM P2 race cars in the Prototype field. Olivier Pla and Jose Gutierrez took fourth in the No. 52 Ligier LM P2 for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, followed by Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens in the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Multimatic/Riley machine.
For the Taylor brothers, their quest for a sixth consecutive victory was over on the opening lap of the race. Ricky Taylor started the race for the team but the No. 10 car was damaged through contact with Pla just a few turns into the race. The No. 10 lost six laps as a result of the damage but the team battled back to finish sixth, three laps down to the winners.
Throughout the six hours, the race was similar to a high-speed game of musical chairs. Both of the Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPis were strong. Brazilian Pipo Derani started the team’s No. 2 machine from pole and led early on, but co-driver Scott Sharp crashed into a tire barrier after tangling with Boris Said in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 while leading during the second hour of the race.
Bruno Senna led in the No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM he shared with Johannes van Overbeek at the halfway point in the race, but a mechanical problem in the fifth hour ended their chances.
Another early contender, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R shared by defending WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Eric Curran and Dane Cameron – as well as Albuquerque – fell out of the running for a victory when the right-rear tire came off following a pit stop and in need of a tow back to the garage. It lost several laps as a result.
Performance Tech Motorsports Maintains Perfection with French, O’Ward, Masson
Five races into the final WeatherTech Championship season for the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsport ORECA FLM09 team has yet to be beaten. On Sunday, co-drivers James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson again cruised to victory, finishing three laps ahead.
While the trio ultimately pulled away, the race wasn’t without its tense moments for the team, including on the first lap of the race.
“I ended up getting passed in Turn 1,” said French, the class polesitter. “There was some contact with the prototypes in front of me. Yacaman stayed ahead and maintained the position after getting sideways. After that I was able to kind of settle in and finish off my stint.”
French retook the class lead 20 minutes into the race but surrendered the spot to Don Yount in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA for three laps following his first pit stop just after the 40-minute mark. From that point on, the Performance Tech team pulled away.
Yount, 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and Canadian driver Danny Burkett took second in PC in the No. 20 machine. Rounding out the top three were Derek Jones, Brian Alder and Yacaman in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports car.
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the series lone visit to Canada for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix next Sunday, July 9, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The race will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 12 p.m. ET.
BMW returns to victory lane in GTE Pro
BMW returned to victory lane in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition Sunday in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International. Alexander Sims held off the Ford GT of Richard Westbrook over the course of a final 25-minute shootout to win the prestigious endurance race in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 alongside co-driver Bill Auberlen by 4.416 seconds.
It was BMW’s first win in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class since Circuit of The Americas in 2015 and the first win for the M6 GTLM in IMSA competition.
“We finally get the win we’ve been hunting for with this M6 GTLM since it came out last year,” said Auberlen, who scored his 56th career victory, putting him four wins behind Scott Pruett as the winningest driver in North American endurance sports racing history. “You don’t win championships when you start off high and go down. We started down and now we’re climbing back up. Those are the ways you win championships.”
BMW also won the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup round. The Patrón Endurance Cup encompasses the four endurance races on the WeatherTech Championship schedule: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans (Oct. 7).
The runner-up finish for the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Westbrook and co-driver Ryan Briscoe tied the team’s best result of the season. The team also was the recipient of the DEKRA Green Challenge for having the “cleanest, fastest and most efficient car” on the day.
As is often the case in the GTLM class, the race was wide open with seven of the eight cars in the class leading at least one lap. Three different manufacturers finished on the podium with the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen rounding out the top-three to extend its points lead in the class.
Lally, Legge Score Watkins Glen Win, Second Consecutive Acura Triumph
In a role reversal from the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen one year ago, Andy Lally held off Alessandro Balzan in the closing minutes at Watkins Glen to pick up the second consecutive GT Daytona (GTD) class victory for Acura and co-driver Katherine Legge in the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3.
Lally beat the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Balzan to the stripe by 0.592 seconds in the victory. The win followed up Acura’s historic first worldwide win for the NSX GT3 one race ago at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.
“Last year, I got on the bumper of Balzan and he did a great job holding me off,” said Lally. “When I heard he got around [Jeroen] Bleekemolen right there at the end, I knew the pressure was coming on. That’s when you take a little extra in the bus stops, and you start putting it on a little deeper into each corner. It gets a little crazy.”
Balzan was joined by co-drivers Christina Nielsen and Matteo Cressoni in the runner-up effort. It was the third consecutive second-place finish for Balzan and Nielsen and the duo’s fourth in the last five races. The Scuderia Corsa team did, however, win the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup round – which awarded points at the halfway mark and the finish – by virtue of running second at the end of both segments.
“It’s great to lead the championship and to lead the Patrón Endurance Cup,” said Balzan. “Scuderia Corsa gave me a perfect car, the Ferrari 488 GT3 was working really great throughout my entire stint.”
Five different manufacturers made up the top-five spots in the class with the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Justin Marks and Jens Klingmann rounding out the podium.
The No. 50 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Cooper MacNeil, Gunnar Jeannette and Shane Van Gisbergen, and No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F of Robert Alon, Jack Hawksworth and Austin Cindric also finished in the top-five.
The next WeatherTech Championship race is next weekend’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, July 9. The race can be seen live flag-to-flag on FS1 beginning at noon ET.