Doubled Acura at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen; Mikaël Grenier Top 6 in GTP Pro
Sunday June 26, 2022 by Philippe Brasseur
The third major endurance event (after daytona and Sebring) of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar season, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen brought together 48 crews, split between prototypes (DPi, LMP2 and LMP3) and GT (GTD Pro and GTD), this sunday.
A race that was exciting but unfortunately interrupted after 4:35 and for 50 minutes, when a risk of storm loomed over the region. No rain, just a risk, these are the new American laws today. And to think that even less than 10 years ago, we praised the prowess of Endurance riders in all weather conditions!
Finally, after three grains of rain fell and while the officials had let the clock run for 50 minutes, it was decided to stop the clock so that the race could be restarted for a 35-minute sprint, which in reality became 20′ , the time to do a few more laps behind the Safety Car and perhaps see that Seneca Lake, located not far from the track, had not overflowed!
Dominant from the start, the two Acura DPi prototypes were still in the front row when the race stopped, the Meyer Shank Racing No.60 driven by Tom Blomqvist (who took pole position) and Oliver Jarvis ahead of second and seven tenths the No.10 of Wayne Taylor Racing, entrusted to Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor.
On the restart, it was a sprint at the forefront between the two Acuras and the two Cadillacs of Chip Ganassi Racing. Victory finally went to Taylor/Albuquerque, 8 tenths of a second ahead of Blomqvist/Jarvis and 2 seconds ahead of Sébastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande with the Cadillac No.01. It is therefore a new double for Acura this season, but the first at the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen.
There was also plenty of action in the LMP2 class, which saw several lead changes and clashes. The Oreca (PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports) of Scott Huffaker, Ben Keating and Mikkel Jensen won in one breath against the Tower Motorsport car of Canadian John Farano, associated with Louis Delétraz and Rui Pinto de Andrade.
As often in this series, it was the LMP3 class which caused the greatest number of neutralizations during the first half of the race. The cars of the Canadian AWA team were unfortunately the « stars » of two of these incidents as Anthony Mantella (No.7) then Orey Fidani (No.13) went off the track. In Fidani’s case, however, it was after a push from another LMP3, that of Jared Andretti, and that was only the prelude to a more serious crash, as German Lars Kern destroyed the yellow Duqueine No .13 against the wall, following a loss of control after two hours of racing. The crew made up of Fidani, Kern and Kyle Marcelli, who replaced Kuno Wittmer, had never been on the pace of the best anyway.
Disappointment also for Ontario’s Garett Grist, victim of a fire during a pit stop with the Ligier of the Jr III Racing team. In the end, Riley Motorsports collected another victory in this category, with its Ligier JS P320 driven by Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Kay van Berlo, the young Dutchman who also won the two Porsche Carrera Cup North America races held in support of these 6 Hours.
In GTD Pro, it was the Ferrari 488 of the Risi Competizione team driven by Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra who led the proceedings at the forced break of 4 hours and 35 minutes. Once the race restarted, a final refueling of the first three (the Ferrari, the Porsche/Pfaff of Mathieu Jaminet and the Lexus of Kyle Kirkwood) two laps from the end gave victory to Connor’s official BMW M4 GT3 by Phillippi, John Edwards and Augusto Farfus. This surprise victory for BMW should not make us forget the fine performance of the Porsche 911 GT3 R of the Pfaff team, entrusted to Jaminet and Matt Campbell, finally ranked 4th.
Racing in Proton Competition’s Mercedes AMG GT3 (entered under the name of WeatherTech Racing), Quebecer Mikaël Grenier and his teammates Maro Engel and Cooper MacNeil finished 6th in this GTD Pro category. A podium was in sight 15 minutes from time but Engel lost 3 places in the final minutes.
Finally in the GTD class, Zach Robichon and the Wright Motorsports team’s hopes of victory were dashed after Ryan Hardwick was hit by an AF Corse Ferrari shortly after the halfway mark. Hardwick, Robichon and Jan Heylen bring their Porsche 911 GT3 R to 9th place in the category.
Victory in GTD went to the Winward Racing Mercedes and its Dienst/Ward/Ellis trio, which even allowed itself to overtake all the GTD Pros except for the victorious BMW. Had it not been for the famous relaunch, the Ontarian Roman de Angelis, associated with the Belgian Maxime Martin and the American Ian James on one of the Aston Martin Vantage GT3/Heart of Racing, would undoubtedly have been able to fight for victory in this class. The trio crossed the finish line second but could be disqualified because the Vantage No.27 could not reach Parc-Fermé after the race.
In total, 41 of the 48 teams at the start completed this 2022 edition of the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen. For the full ranking, click here.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar series will contest its next event next weekend in Canada at the Mosport circuit.