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54 Hours of June Ends on High Note for Westbrook, Palttala

Richard Westbrook, Markus Palttala ends busy month of June with wins…

Photos: IMSA

Photos: IMSA

After competing in three major endurance races in as many weeks, a pair of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship drivers celebrated the end of their whirlwind month of June in victory lane last weekend at Watkins Glen.

Of the five drivers that attempted the trans-Atlantic adventure, totaling 54 hours of racing between the 24-hour races at Le Mans and the Nürburgring as well as the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, both Richard Westbrook and Markus Palttala broke through to claim wins in their respective classes on Sunday.

Westbrook and Spirit of Daytona Racing co-driver Michael Valiante scored their first win of the TUDOR Championship season, thanks to the Englishman’s late-race pass on the OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan for the lead on the second-to-final restart.

It was redemption for the GM factory driver, who missed out on a podium finish at Le Mans due to a slipped alternator belt and gearbox leak for his Corvette C7.R, which was followed up by a retirement in the Nürburgring 24 with just three hours to go.

“It’s been a disappointing June, not how I wanted it at all. So it’s good to go out with a pop,” Westbrook told Sportscar365.

“In this championship you’ve got to have pace. It’s first and foremost. It’s tough racing as we saw today. It was a real classic and brilliant running for six hours bumper to bumper with the 42 car.”

For Palttala, who claimed his second class GT Daytona victory in the last four races aboard the Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3, it also marked a turnaround of fortunes after recording DNFs in the pair of twice-around-the-clock enduros.

A series of issues for the Finn’s ProSpeed Competition Porsche, including fuel pump and gearbox issues, ended in retirement at Le Mans, while an overnight accident by his co-driver eliminated the race-contending Marc VDS BMW from potential victory at the ‘Ring.

“This month was really disappointing with the DNFs at Le Mans and Nürburgring. I needed this,” Palttala said post-race in victory lane at The Glen. “This feels so much better now after the difficult weekends.

“It was a great race. Dane [Cameron] was awesome and I had a good middle stint. I think never had such a perfect run. That’s what you need.”

Among the three other drivers who took part in the the triple weekend was Jeroen Bleekemolen, who pulled ironman stints at both Le Mans and the Nürburgring, adding up to nearly 24 hours of drive time himself.

However, the Dutch ace was forced to retire his Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R in the fourth hour at The Glen due to engine failure.

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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