Derani, Nasr lead Whelen Cadillac to victory at Watkins Glen

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Derani, Nasr lead Whelen Cadillac to victory at Watkins Glen

IMSA

Derani, Nasr lead Whelen Cadillac to victory at Watkins Glen

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The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani won the WeatherTech 240 from Watkins Glen.

The race was interrupted by a roughly 45-minute red flag for lightning that helped give the No. 31 Cadillac crucial track position for the final half-hour sprint to the finish.

“We’ve been close every now and then in a couple of races knocking on the door, but that victory never came,” Nasr said. “So, I’m very pleased and very grateful for all the sponsors that have been with us. Finally, to get them to victory lane and celebrate this one with all of them, they’ve been very supportive of us.”

When the weather arrived, the No. 31 Cadillac and the No. 5 Mustang Sampling w/ JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. had just completed a pit stop while the rest of the DPi runners were in the middle of their stints. Once the lightning had dissipated and the red flag was lifted, the field came to pitlane for a final time.

While others took on more fuel, the No. 31 and No. 5 Cadillacs needed just a splash to reach the end of the race. This allowed Nasr and Tristan Vautier to move up the order. Nasr was able to stay there, checking out from the rest of the field while Vautier was unable to find the same pace to keep his Cadillac on the podium.

The final half-hour of this race was perhaps the best half-hour Cadillac has had in the last two weeks from Watkins Glen. Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing DPi-V.R. was able to make passes on both the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05c and the No. 55 Mazda RT-24P to move the No. 01 into second where it finished.

Acura, meanwhile, leave Watkins Glen without a win after the No. 10 and the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05c both fell short in this one. The No. 60 Acura was spun on the opening lap after contact between Olivier Pla and Kevin Magnussen sent the Frenchman spinning at the exit of Turn 1.

Despite a full course yellow bringing the No. 60 back to the rear of the field, it was unable to have much of an impact in the second half of the race, ending the day last in class. Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Acura rounded out the podium in third.

The No. 55 Mazda RT-24P of Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis finished fifth.

In GT Le Mans, the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia beat out the No. 4 Corvette C8.R of Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner. With only three cars in the class and one of them, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR, well behind the two Corvettes, the GTLM race fell into the background.

Cooper MacNeil started the No. 79 Porsche and struggled to match the pace of Taylor and Tandy in the Corvettes. The red flag left Matt Campbell with little opportunity to claw back the time they had lost.

The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 won the three-car LMP2 battle ahead of the No. 11 WIN Autosport ORECA 07 and the No. 8 Tower Motorsports ORECA 07. Track position ended up being key to PR1/Mathiasen’s win as Mikkel Jensen had little competition once the race was restarted after the red flag.

Tristan Nunez reeled in and passed Gabriel Aubry in the final minutes of the race to move the No. 11 ORECA up one step on the podium.

In LMP3, the championship-leading No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 made it back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen.

“It was a big strategy race today Bill, Tyler, Chris, they all did a fantastic job watching the weather, watching the red, and making the calls we needed to make,” Robinson said. The No. 74 Ligier pitted just once during the race.

“We won the race on strategy, we just did our normal job,” Fraga said.

Fraga crossed the line just 0.276s ahead of Dylan Murray in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320. Meanwhile, the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320 finished just 0.956s behind the class-winning No. 74 Ligier leaving the entire LMP3 podium to finish within one second of each other.

Vasser Sullivan secured a 1-2 finish with their No. 14 Lexus RC-F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz getting their first win of the season after dominating but falling short in last weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of Watkins Glen.

The No. 12 Lexus RC-F GT3 of Zach Veach and Frankie Montecalvo finished second after starting on the outside of the front row. The No. 12 had struggled to find the same pace as their teammates last weekend, but this race was a different story as the No. 12 Lexus looked to be the team-leader until a great final stint from Hawksworth moved the No. 14 back to the front of the field.

The No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ross Gunn and Roman De Angelis ended the race in third. Gunn and De Angelis have now finished third on three different occasions this season. Their consistency has made them a dark horse contender for the GTD championship.

Apart from the red flag for lightning, it was a rather uneventful race. One full-course yellow flew for the No. 19 GRT Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo which lost power at the bus stop, and another came later in the race for debris that flew off the GTD-winning No. 14 Lexus.

RESULTS

The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship goes to Lime Rock Park for the first of two GT-only rounds of the season on July 16-17.

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