Porsche Keeps Rolling During Sahlen’s Six Hours

0
123
Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet put the No. 911 Porsche in victory lane Sunday at Watkins Glen Int'l. (Dennis Bicksler Photo)
Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet put the No. 911 Porsche in victory lane Sunday at Watkins Glen Int'l. (Dennis Bicksler Photo)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – There is no stopping Porsche right now in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class.

The No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet made it four consecutive wins for Porsche this season in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, continuing a dominant stretch rarely seen in the always-competitive GTLM class.

This one was certainly no cakewalk, however.

Tandy had to hold off a hard-charging Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R to secure the win, crossing the stripe a mere .452 of a second of the two-time defending series champion and his longtime co-driver Jan Magnussen.

Tandy inherited the lead when teammate Earl Bamber had to pit for fuel from the lead with 13 minutes remaining in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR had to pit for fuel.

RELATED: It’s Finally Mazda’s Day At The Glen

That set up a duel to the finish between Tandy and Garcia. At one point, Garcia was over six seconds behind Tandy and over the course of his final stint managed to close the gap to just one car length, but was unable to make the pass on the final lap.

With the win, the No. 911 team moved into the GTLM class points lead.

“We wanted to build a lead and when the team told me the Corvette was catching us and the lap times he was running, I got a bit scared,” said Tandy. “But in the end, our car held up really well. The Michelin tires got better and better and the car balance got really good as the fuel came out of the car.”

“It was difficult to be honest, especially because we really wanted to win this race,” added Pilet. “We were so close so many times. And we are now back in the championship, so it’s really a good win.”

Tandy and Pilet also won the last IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup event, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March. That win was followed up by consecutive trips to victory lane for the No. 912 of Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio. Going further, at least one of the team’s two cars has finished on the podium in all five races this season with the No. 912 also finishing third in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

With Garcia challenging Tandy in the closing laps, it was more than just a race win on the line for Corvette Racing. The team has long been in search of its 100th career IMSA win, scoring win No. 99 at Long Beach in April of 2018.

Regardless, it was another strong points day for a No. 3 Corvette team that is on quite an impressive stretch of its own, with four consecutive podium finishes and three straight runner-up finishes.

With six races remaining on the WeatherTech Championship schedule, Garcia and Magnussen are now one point behind the No. 911 team in the class standings in search of a third straight GTLM title.

Three different manufacturers finished on the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen podium with the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe finishing third. The team’s No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand finished fourth, while BMW made it four manufacturers in the top-five with the No. 24 BMW Team RLL of Jesse Krohn and John Edwards finishing fifth.

Trent Hindman, Mario Farnbacher and Justin Marks piloted the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 to victory Sunday at Watkins Glen Int'l in the GT Daytona class. (Dennis Bicksler Photo)
Trent Hindman, Mario Farnbacher and Justin Marks piloted the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 to victory Sunday at Watkins Glen Int’l in the GT Daytona class. (Dennis Bicksler Photo)

In the GT Daytona class, class championship leaders Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher – joined Sunday by Justin Marks – broke into victory lane for the first time this year aboard the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

It was a dominant performance that started Saturday, with Hindman putting the No. 86 Acura on pole for the second time this season. Between Hindman, Farnbacher and endurance specialist Marks, the car paced the GTD field for a race-high 83 laps to claim its first checkered flag of the season.

“I think our championship lead is now 16 points,” said Hindman, who with Farnbacher now holds a 119-103-point lead over the AIM Vasser Sullivan duo of Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand. “It’s tremendous to come and get a win and keep the championship lead, but there is plenty of opportunity to extend it.

“We’ll try to solidify our place in the championship. We’re just going to take it race by race. Obviously, our focus was to win, and that’s not going to change for the rest of the year. We’re always going to be out here shooting for the win. Always being aggressive. That’s what puts us in these positions to begin with. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

The win is a first for both Hindman and Marks in the WeatherTech Championship, but the sixth for Farnbacher, who closed out the race.

Though the car topped the class for the majority of the race, it was a nail-biter down to the end. Bill Auberlen – seeking his 59th IMSA win to come within one of all-time win leader Scott Pruett – was hunting down Farnbacher in his No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. Auberlen was able to close to less than half a second to Farnbacher in the closing minutes but would settle for second by 0.676 seconds.

“It was for sure not easy,” said Farnbacher. “I tried to push for no mistakes and Auberlen was pushing like crazy. He closed the gap really easily and was always pushing. I tried to save it with no mistakes. I’m really happy for the team. Finally, we have the win. I’m so happy for the guys.”

Auberlen co-drove with Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern, the latter of whom was part of the Turner Motorsport lineup that won at Watkins Glen in 2018.

Scoring their second podium of the season was the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander and Jeff Westphal.