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Continental Tire Beyond the Podium: Watkins Glen

Continental Tire Beyond the Podium: Watkins Glen…

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Photo: Brian Cleary/

Continental Tire Beyond the Podium explores the post-race news and notes from both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races from last weekend at Watkins Glen.

WeatherTech Championship:

***Tequila Patron ESM’s undefeated streak in 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition came to a grinding halt with just 1 hour and 10 minutes remaining in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen when Pipo Derani stopped on track with engine failure. It came after another strong run for the team’s Ligier JS P2 Honda, which was a contender for the win.

***Both Mazdas Prototypes led the race, in what was another standout performance for the Japanese manufacturer, until its No. 55 car hit engine failure with just over 30 minutes to go.

***A spin by Marc Goossens, while in the lead with one hour and 33 minutes remaining took the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP out of contention and two laps down. It marked another disappointing result for the Troy Flis-led squad.

***Ford’s dominant class win was the first 1-2 sweep for the Detroit manufacturer and gave Richard Westbrook his third consecutive victory at Watkins Glen, after winning overall in 2014-15 with Visit Florida Racing.

***It however was masked in some controversy, with the quickest non-Ford driver, Bill Auberlen, setting a best time that was 0.810 seconds slower than Joey Hand’s 1:41.141 set in the race, which obliterated the previous track record. The quickest non-turbo time was some 1.2 seconds slower, showing a considerable disparity in performance.

***CORE autosport’s hopes of a sixth consecutive Prototype Challenge title took another blow on Sunday when the Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Mark Wilkins-driven car retired with mechanical issues in the third hour after multiple issues earlier in the race. It included spins for both Braun and Wilkins, as well as a tire that came loose after a pit stop.

***It was also a race to forget for Turner Motorsport, with the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 retiring due to a loss in engine power due to an exhaust leak that melted hoses and wires, and the No. 97 car finishing 10th in class after an early race accident that resulted in a trip to the garage for suspension damage.

***Multiple GTD cars, as well as the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR in GTLM, sustained tire damage in the race, attributed to newly installed curbs at the Bus Stop. Continental Tire had sent memos to teams prior to the race, warning of such a possibility if drivers were too aggressive over the new curbing.

***Only 39 of the 41 entries took the green flag, following the withdrawal of the No. 27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 due to an accident on Friday and the No. 50 Fifty-Plus Racing Riley-BMW DP, which had a fuel leak prior to warmup.

***Tommy Milner salvaged a fourth place finish in GTLM, amid the domination of the turbocharged cars, to maintain he and Oliver Gavin’s lead in the class championship, but now just eight points ahead of Ford’s Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

***Starworks Motorsport and Scuderia Corsa, meanwhile, extended their leads in the PC and GTD standings, respectively, heading into next weekend’s round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Continental Tire Challenge:

***It was the second consecutive GS class podium sweep for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport and third straight win for Bodymotion’s Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels. Porsche Caymans also swept the podium in ST, a first-ever feat for both classes in the same race.

***It was a tough race for GS championship leaders Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell, who lost out on a podium finish for the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C due to a stuck left-front tire on Johnson’s final stop. The duo finished fourth in class. 

***Johnson and Maxwell now hold a seven-point lead over CJ Wilson Racing’s Danny Burkett and Marc Miller, who finished second on Saturday after a late-race pass for the lead, and eventual win by Hindman. Hindman and Cassels still sit fourth in the title race, 18 points behind, due to missing the season-opener at Daytona.

***The No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si battled electrical issues, where Chad Gilsinger was forced to revert to hand gestures on his in-car camera to answer questions from the radio, which was only functional one-way. Gilsinger and co-driver Ryan Eversley finished 21st in class.

***Gilsinger, who entered the weekend as the ST class championship leader, has dropped to third in the title race, 21 points behind new leaders Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante, with Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee in second, trailing by seven points.

***Continental Tire Challenge is back in action this weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, with the two-hour and 30-minute race set for Saturday.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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