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EDWARDS: Watkins Glen Debrief

BMW’s John Edwards files his latest Sportscar365 column after The Glen…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Some race weekends take a lot out of you, but give you an accomplished and relieving feeling at the end. Unfortunately, this weekend wasn’t one of them.

Personally, I think the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of The Glen is one of our hardest races of the season. Of course Daytona is four times longer and Sebring is a very unique and difficult place, but we run those races with four and three drivers, respectively.

That means we can have more recovery time between stints than the 6-hour when Dirk and I are on our own.

As usual, Saturday was an extremely busy day for me with two TUDOR Championship practices, the Continental Tire GS race, and TUDOR qualifying.

Trent pitted in P3 after his stint in the GS car, but our Fall-Line Motorsports crew was quicker on the tire change than the leading Camaros so we got out ahead. Some people had stayed out so we restarted around P7 or so, but the restart was pretty strange.

The leaders accelerated but had to check up because the safety car wasn’t off yet, so I had to lift just a bit before getting back on power. I thought my run was incredible and I was going to pass 4 cars on the front straight, but unfortunately Robin Liddell and Andy Lally behind me hadn’t needed a lift, so they both got by me while we all passed a handful of cars into T1.

I pressured Lally through the lap and he was defending a lot, which ended up giving him a bad run off of T1. He defended to the inside but I had such a run that I got fully alongside him before turn in for the esses. He squeezed me up on to the curb and then squeezed me more, but I had nowhere left to go past the curb as he turned into me.

Unfortunately, my car was a lot more damaged than his and we fell down the order, circulating around just to finish. One inch of toe out in the left will make the car pretty scary through T5!

Although we’ve had two bad races in a row, we are still tied for the points lead for the GS championship so we will be fighting hard as we enter the last half of the season.

Fortunately, I had another shot for a good result on Sunday in the factory BMW Z4 with BMW Team RLL in TUDOR GTLM. I’ve driven Watkins Glen in a lot of cars, but the GTLM Z4 is by far the coolest thing I’ve driven around there. It has enough downforce to change direction quickly and keep grip and stability in the car, but is soft enough to go 4-wheels over the curbing in the Bus Stop.

The 6-hour was pretty chaotic with all 4 classes running, but especially sketchy between our GTLM car and the GTD cars. We lacked power compared to the GTD cars, so we really had to stuff it in to some corners or pass around the outside of the Esses.

Dirk opened the race and I was in for the second stint. Our next pit stop was timed well with a caution, so we cycled to P3, but it would be short lived. After the restart, a PC car spun in T10 a couple cars ahead of me.

I went off in the paved runoff to avoid him, but in doing so lost seven positions. The race ran green for the next 3 or 3.5 hours, which didn’t give us much chance to make the time up, especially since our strength is in the corners while we lack on the straights.

We were running 6th when we restarted for the last lap dash to the finish, and I was able to pressure Fisichella throughout the lap. He dove down the inside of a GTD car in the last corner, but got squeezed a bit and spun.

Since I was trying to set him up for a pass to the line, I was only inches away from him and had to take some majorly evasive action onto the grass at the apex. Fortunately, I escaped without contact as I got by Fisichella, but the cluster had allowed the No. 911 Porsche to get by in the process, netting us a P6 finish.

The weekend had a lot of promise, with a fast GS car on old tires and a fast GTLM car throughout an entire stint.

Unfortunately, we don’t have much to show for it due to a few incidents. I guess that’s racing, and we can only look forward to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park next week.

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