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NEGRI: Watkins Glen/CTMP Debrief

Ozz Negri checks into Sportscar365 after back-to-back races…

Photo: IMSA

Watkins Glen

We tested at VIR prior to Watkins Glen and we made so much progress with our Acura that I knew we were going to be strong for the 6 Hours. My first session at the Glen was what I expected: working on what I had to do with the GTD car as far as line versus what I was used to with the P cars.

I worked hard looking at data and video so I felt right at home.

We got the car set up a little more to my liking and we were P1 in the morning warm up which boosted our confidence that we were looking good for the race.

Jeff (Segal) opened up the race and ran close with the leaders. Our plan was for me to do the middle stint and Jeff to finish. I knew I had to give him the car with good track position so I went to work.

In my first stint I ran close to the leaders and started to analyze where I was strong so I could try and make a move.

The GTD class is so close, the cars are all capable and brake really well and deep which makes it so hard to pass. I capitalized on a few mistakes from my competitors and a quick in and out lap for my pit stop put us in the lead.

That was important because we were looking to capture the mid-race NAEC points and I was in the lead at the half way mark so we were also looking good for that.

From that point on in clean air I knew I had to push hard and try to open as much of a gap as possible. Working well in traffic and pushing hard on clear laps, I gave the car back to Jeff in P1 with a 10 second lead.

It was all looking good and going according to plan. Jeff was on it as he always is and I was sure we would finish on the podium.

But it wasn’t meant to be. With 30 minutes to go we had a problem and had to retire.

There is no good way to describe my feeling at that time. I just felt bad for the whole team because everyone had done such an amazing job.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Mosport is a crazy fast track and there is zero margin for error so I really did a lot of homework before the event by looking at videos and data and learning as much as I could from Jeff (Segal) and Andy (Lally) who both have years of GT experience at the track.

By the end of the first day of practice, we were looking good. Our Acura was well balanced and we had a different strategy going into the race.

Jeff qualified the car in third and spent most of his stint in the top-three so again we were looking good for that podium finish.

We started to struggle a little with pace as the car picked up some under steer and Jeff was doing a great job keeping everyone behind.

We had a great pit stop and after the pit rotation we found ourselves sixth.

Mosport is challenging enough in the dry and the sky was dark enough that at one point we knew it was going to rain.

We were running P6 with a good gap behind but all that went away when a yellow flag was displayed. During the yellow flag period that dark sky turned into rain and there we were, on a wet track on slicks.

A wet Mosport on slicks is not a good combination. The team asked me if I wanted rain Continental tires so my reply was: “Do we expect more rain?” and they responded “No” so I told them I wanted to keep the slicks. It was mega tricky conditions and on the restart the track was still pretty wet.

There were lots of sideways moments through the corners and even on the straight (check my Instagram soon for video) trying to keep the car on the track as I knew it was going to dry and I wanted the car in one piece to try and have a strong finish.

Unfortunately, I got hit twice – once by a lapped car – and we fell to P10.

The sky decided to send us some more water and a car ended up upside down and the race ended under a full course yellow. Now we go on to Lime Rock where we’ll try for that podium again.

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