IMSA: Barbosa leads Corvette 1-2 at Watkins Glen

IMSA: Barbosa leads Corvette 1-2 at Watkins Glen


IMSA: Barbosa leads Corvette 1-2 at Watkins Glen


Torque beat momentum on Sunday at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen as the pair of Action Express Corvette DPs proved to be too much for the faster P2s to handle. The AXR 1-2, led home by Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Corvette DP and Dane Cameron in the sister No. 31 entry, used superior pit stops and flawless driving to displace the speedy P2 contingent that locked out the top four spots in qualifying.

Barbosa, who earned the team’s first win since Petit Le Mans in October, came home just 0.709 seconds ahead of Cameron on a hot and sunny day in New York, where raw speed and serious battles were on display in each of the WeatherTech Championship’s four classes.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Christian Fittipaldi, Barbosa’s teammate. “We had a perfect race today. This was a sweet win. At one point we were one and a half seconds slower than the P2s. The strategy was perfect. [AXR’s] two drivers ran strong the whole race and it’s a perfect way to start the second half of the season.”

Behind Barbosa, Cameron held off a determined Olivier Pla in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2-Honda by a scant 0.165 seconds. Pla was the fastest driver on the track in the closing stages as he obliterated the pole lap of 1:35.207 with a 1:34.515 – a second or more clear of the best DP race lap – but with worn tires and an acceleration deficit, MSR’s third driver was left to settle for third.

“I had much more pace in the car, but when you get stuck behind the DP, it’s impossible to pass,” Pla said. “We did our best this weekend. When we are on a clean lap, the pace is really good, but when you are behind a DP, it is really difficult.”

Two Le Mans-winning teams brought home good mojo from France as Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (GT Le Mans) and Scuderia Corsa (GT Daytona) won their respective classes. The No. 67 Ford GT driven by Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe turned its pole into a win, which ranks as the car’s second consecutive IMSA victory dating back to Monterey on May 1, and the team’s third straight after it won the GTE-Pro class at Le Mans on June 19.

“It’s just amazing,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know what to say. We’re just riding a great wave at the moment. Perfect execution by the team. It’s just a dream weekend.”

Joey Hand made an off-track pass on BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen in the final minutes to make it a Ford GT 1-2, but the legality of the pass was being reviewed as the checkered flag waved. Auberlen’s No. 100 BMW M6 was credited with third.

Like Westbrook, Starworks Motorsport’s Renger van der Zande also turned his pole into a win at Watkins glen. He led with ease to start the race, faced intense pressure in the end, and was able to hold off Performance Tech Motorsports hard-charging Kyle Marcelli by only 0.112 seconds. The second Starworks entry driven by Richard Bradley completed the PC podium.

“The car was unbelievable,” said van der Zande. “My fastest lap time was two laps from the end. It’s a really nice win, I’m really happy.”

The pole-winning Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 team led the majority of the GTD race on Sunday, but Scuderia Corsa came out on top as the Le Mans-winning team and Le Mans-winning driver Jeff Segal brought something extra to the No. 63 Ferrari 488 shared with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan.

“I cannot believe it,” said Nielsen. “I had the engine cutting out in the beginning and now we’re standing here. Thank you to Scuderia Corsa.”

Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally was left to represent Audi as he chased Balzan to the checkered flag, and came up 0.641 seconds short in second in the No. 44 R8 LMS GT3. Alex Job Racing’s Mario Farnbacher was 1.091 second behind Lally for third in the No. 23 Porsche 911 GT3 R.

It was a day of poor pit stops as numerous teams turned leads into significant losses after slow driver exchanges, stalled engines, or refueling delays caused fast cars to plummet down the running order. Cut tires became an epidemic for Continental and Michelin runners as a combination of the sharp and grippy new surface and over-use of the infield curbing sliced rubber in every class. The Stevenson team – and most Audis in the field – were magnets for tire failures, and the BMW GTLM team also reported multiple punctures.

Of note behind the winning teams and drivers, Tequila Patron ESM’s bid to win its third consecutive Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup race went up in smoke along with its Honda engine 39 laps from the finish.

Among the two Mazda Prototypes, the No. 55 spent some time in the lead as Spencer Pigot impressed the field, but the car ground to a halt after five hours and 30 minutes with electrical problems. The No. 70 Mazda had problems of its own and the No. Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP also ran up front, but surrendered any shot at a podium when Marc Goossens executed a solo spin and could not re-fire the car.

The frenetic pace and new ability to use Watkins Glen’s full track width generated plenty of contact and debris as bumpers, fenders, and all manner of body parts were shed throughout the six hours of action. Only one serious crash took place as BAR1 Motorsports’ Johnny Mowlem and the Performance Tech PC came together on the run to the Bus Stop. Mowlem stepped out of his ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet chassis on his own, but the car was a tattered heap after its high-speed trip into the barriers.

The 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen was an unrelenting dance involving 39 cars on a circuit that demanded maximum attack from the green flag to the checkered. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was ragged, and for something billed as an endurance race, those six hours flew by as drivers left everything on the track.

Full results can be found here.

MX-5 Cup | Round 1 – Daytona | Race Highlights