A Wet Win and Hopes Dashed at Soggy Sahlen’s 6 Hrs of Watkins Glen
6 hours of rain and fog, 8 cautions and 1 red flag turned the outcome of this race into a “free for all”.
Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiente driving the # 90 Visit Florida DP Corvette outlasted Scott Pruitt and Joey Hand in the underdog # 01 Ganassi Eco-boost Ford to finish first under dreadful conditions. The win marks the Spirit of Daytona team’s second straight at the Glen and positions them to win the Tudor North American Endurance Racing Championship to be decided at the Road Atlanta finale on October 3.
Coming off an uplifting win at Le Mans, the # 4 Corvette encountered an unforeseen incident “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”. Leading GTLM with less than an hour to go, Oliver Gavin made a routine pit stop for fuel and tires. It all went wrong on the next lap. Entering turn 1 at the end of the long pit straight, Gavin lost front end grip pushing him into the # 912 Porsche of Nick Tandy and spinning the # 4 Corvette into the guardrail, ending his race on lap 136, 21 laps short of the class winner (see below). The slick track and tires not heated up to optimal temperature were the apparent culprits. It happens to the best of us.
Most Corvette racing fans know by now the # 3 Corvette that showed up at the Glen (C7.R chassis 002 sold in March) was “borrowed” from the French Larbre team and shipped back to New Hudson MI while the Pratt & Miller crew is still repairing the # 63 (C7.R chassis 003) that was severely damaged in practice at Le Mans. GM Program Manager Doug Feehan has long argued that the sturdy tub/tube frame Corvettes can take a hit and be re-built vs total wipeouts for the Ferrari, BMW and Aston monocoques. Corvette expert Nigel Dobbie adds that since all the panels are separate pieces except for the roof, even the French team’s graphics were preserved in the changeover.
The GTLM # 17 single Porsche entry of Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler won in an upset for the Falken Tire team. Magnussen & Garcia in the “borrowed” # 3 Corvette finished 4th in class.
Pre-race Thursday on the Stone Bridge in Watkins Glen State Park on the historic original 6.6 mile road circuit.
Both Pratt & Miller C7.R Corvettes that started the season fresh at Daytona are slated to race at Mosport CANADA on July 12.