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Six Hours at the Glen

by • July 21, 2014 • EventComments (0)2179

Richard Westbrook was in the right place at the right time, when the six-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race that came down to the wire. Westbrook drove his No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.COM/GoPro Corvette DP past Alex Brundle in Turn 4 at Watkins Glen International after a late-race caution wiped out Brundle’s sizable lead. He then led the final five laps for a 0.877-second victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The race was the third round in the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

“Richard and my approach for the last couple of races was to keep the car safe and be in a position that would allow us to take a podium or possibly the win,” said Spirit of Daytona co-driver Michael Valiante. “It’s worked for us the last two races.”

The win was the fourth for Daytona Beach-based Spirit of Daytona, and the first since Sept. 9, 2012 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. All three of the team’s previous wins came in the 2012 season.

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“It’s a massive relief for us to get a victory,” Westbrook said. “It’s been a bit of a dry spell for us, especially on the back of a successful 2012. We’ll take that win for sure.”

Despite taking a runner-up finish after leading late, Brundle and his No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan co-drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung were able to take positives away from their first visit to the historic 3.4-mile track.

“It’s been a tremendous effort from my team and both teammates,” Brundle said. “We made a step forward in pace, understanding the car and understanding the tire. I think we can go away happy but we did kind of snatch defeat from the jaws of victory a little bit.”

Brundle, who started the race from pole position, grabbed the lead on Lap 170 after Valiante brought the No. 90 in to the pits for fuel, tires and a driver change. An accident between Alex Tagliani and Ian James gave Westbrook the opportunity to catch Brundle under the full-course caution.

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“I’m really proud of the team, the guys worked really hard on the car last night,” Yacaman said. “They stayed up until 1 a.m. making some updates to the car and getting it ready for the race. Every race we’ve started we’ve been consistent. We keep moving up the ladder on the podium. We really need that win, we’re looking for that win. We’ll keep working, working hard until we can get the win.”

Westbrook and Valiante earned eight points in the Patrón Endurance Cup, matching leaders Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi of Action Express Racing, who led at the race’s halfway point.

Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor finished fifth, but were able to maintain their TUDOR Championship Prototype lead in the standings.

Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and James Gue displayed the resiliency needed to win a championship, overcoming an early mistake for their fourth victory in five races. Despite winning the TOTAL Pole Award, the team wasn’t in front of the Prototype Challenge (PC) class until the 40-minute mark in the race. That was short-lived, however, lasting only three laps. From there, the team was in trouble, falling a lap down.

“I was in a pretty good dogfight with some GT Le Mans cars,” Bennett said. “I had some momentum and I popped out to make a pass in the bus stop (chicane). I was between corner worker stations and I realized I was going really fast and everyone else was going really slow. I was hoping no one noticed but they did. So we had a drive-through penalty for that. That got us a little bit behind.”

Braun and Gue were able to make up the difference, with Braun grabbing the lead for good midway through the fourth hour. The victory extends the PC points lead for the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09.

“The result we wanted here was getting the win,” Braun said. “It’s really cool to be able to win these and it helps us for our quest for the championship as well. We’re just trying to get better and improve and keep going on for the next one.”

The team has won all three Patrón Endurance Cup events and lead those standings as well.

“It’s quite an honor to have done well in those races that are a part of the Patron Endurance (Cup),” Bennett said. “It’s the most important endurance races in North America this year, and to kind of highlight them and put them on a pedestal of the championship themselves, it’s a testament to doing so well.”

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It is safe to say Corvette Racing has hit its stride in the first year running the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. With teething issues a thing of the past, Corvette Racing has gone on a tear in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, with a third straight TUDOR Championship victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.

Antonio Garcia held off the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R of Marc Goossens on a last-lap restart for the win, joining co-driver Jan Magnussen in victory lane for the third straight race in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. The Corvette’s led at the halfway mark to score maximum points en route to a Round 3 victory in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

“I have to say, I am so pleased with how things have gone for the team this year, with the (No.) 3 car especially,” said Magnussen, who picked up his 40th win in North American professional sports car racing. “We’re developing a new car and we keep finding new things to do with it. I just saw that all the fastest race laps for all the GTLMs were all within three tenths (of a second). It is a very competitive category. You have to be on your best game for everything you do. There is no room for any mistakes.”

Limiting mistakes is one of the reasons Corvette Racing has been so strong over the summer months. In addition to the team’s success in North America in the TUDOR Championship, the team finished second in GTE Pro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago with Magnussen, Garcia and Jordan Taylor.

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Goossens and co-driver Dominik Farnbacher finished second in the Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R which returned to the red-and-white liveried Dodge Vipers of the past. The team’s No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer finished in third.

Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner drove the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to a fourth-place finish, while Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet finished fifth in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.

Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala drove to a dominant victory. The duo led all but nine laps in the Turner Motorsport’s No. 94 BMW Z4 for their second GT Daytona (GTD) class victory of the season and the team scored maximum points in their Round 3 win in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

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A late caution and final lap restart allowed Townsend Bell to close the deficit in the runner-up No. 555 REVO/Robert Graham/Royal Purple/Motegi Ferrari 458 Italia, but there wasn’t enough time to catch Cameron who went on to win by 2.087 seconds.

“It was picture perfect today,” said Palttala, who started the car and quickly moved to the front. “I took the lead in the first corner of the very first lap and never gave it away. Everything went according to plan.”

“It’s pretty special to get the first win for both of us here at Watkins Glen,” added Cameron, picking up his fourth win in North American professional sports car competition. “I checked the [Sahlen’s] Six Hour box and one of the marquee events for us here in the TUDOR Championship. Literally, it could not have gone any better than it did today. The cars were excellent, the team was excellent. Perfect.”

With its second-place finish, the No. 555 AIM Autosport team, as well as Bell and co-driver Bill Sweedler unofficially extended their lead in the Patrón Endurance Cup to 14 points over the No. 44 Magnus Racing team (37-23). With wins in both segments Turner Motorsport now has 21 points despite not scoring any in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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Bell and Sweedler also extended their lead in the TUDOR Championship season-long standings, despite finishes of 14th at Mazda Raceway and seventh at Detroit Belle Isle in the two most recent races. The two have made up significant ground in the Patrón Endurance Cup events, winning at Daytona and Watkins Glen and finishing second at Sebring.

Finishing third at Watkins Glen in Magnus Racing’s Porsche 911 GT America were Andy Lally and John Potter and third driver Sebastian Asch. Fresh off a fifth-place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dempsey Racing drivers Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster teamed with Andrew Davis to finish fourth in the No. 27 Porsche 911 GT America. Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal finished fifth in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.

Photos courtesy of Shawn Pierce Photography & High Revs Photography

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