Six Hours of the Glen Race Report

Six Hours of the Glen Race Report

Bill Stoler

Heading into Watkins Glen, the #10 Konica-Minolta Prototype of Wayne Taylor racing arrived with a racing streak of five consecutive wins. With less than a minute into the six-hour endurance race, any hopes for a sixth straight victory were extinguished quickly.  The #10 Cadillac Dpi piloted by Ricky Taylor hit the guardrail in turn 3 on the first lap at the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, resulting in a broken suspension. Starting from fourth place, Taylor passed third-place qualifier Christian Fittipaldi and was racing with the #52 of Jose Gutierrez when the two made contact, damaging the suspension on the #10 and Taylor slid into the right-side barrier. Taylor did manage to nurse the   wounded Cadillac to the pits where the team was able to effect repairs. He rejoined the race six laps down.

Endurance racing has become much more than saving the car for the end. After six hours of highly contested flat out “sprint” racing, it was Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque taking the win. The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, took their first victory of the season and snapped a streak of five consecutive victories by No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac with 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, winning 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.”

Runner-up Simpson and the No. 85 ORECA (co-driven by Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller) ran in the top five through the second half of the race. 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.

Despite the unfortunate start and losing six laps, Wayne Taylor racing departed Watkins Glen with a fairly good finish. The team was able to make up three of the lost laps due to the incident. Major problems for four of their Prototype-class competitors enabled them to bring home a sixth-place finish. The Glen has been tough for the team, which has not scored a podium finish there since winning the 2011 Six Hours of The Glen. and the two-hour sprint race during the August NASCAR weekend that same year. However, they still have the momentum of an unprecedented five consecutive wins to open the IMSA season and Wayne Taylor stated that the despite the start and a lack of yellows, the team did an awesome job. The pit stops were perfect. The drivers were perfect. Everybody was perfect. And we still leave here with a 20-point driver and team lead in the points, and we sealed the manufacturers' championship for Cadillac. “Not a bad day after a bad start. We finished sixth overall. So, onward and upward.”

In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class BMW returned to victory lane at Watkins Glen.  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 (co-driven by Bill Auberlen). 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. 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 GT Daytona (GTD) class victory went to the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 (co-driver Katherine Legge) of Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian. Andy Lally held off Alessandro Balzan in the closing minutes. Lally beat the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Balzan to the stripe by 0.592 second in the victory. 

The Prototype Challenge (PC) class win was captured by the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsport again! In 2017, team has yet to be beaten. Co-drivers James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson again cruised to victory, finishing three laps ahead. 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.

The Six Hours of the Glen was round three of the North American PatrĂ³n Endurance Cup, which 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).

-Bill Stoler for In the Pits Media