Action Express Racing’s overall victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen – coupled with a second-place finish in the opening three-hour segment – gave the No. 5 Corvette DP sole possession of the Prototype class lead following the third round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
While Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi took their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season, the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda Ligier JS P2 co-driven by Scott Sharp, Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek managed to gain the critical points for leading the halfway segment.
Derani passed Barbosa with three hours and one minute remaining to earn the maximum five points.
While the ESM entry did not finish, those points allowed the Tequila Patrón team to stay within two points of Action Express, 35-33, entering the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The Patrón Endurance Cup is a unique competition among the four longest races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which opened with January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.
Points are scored at strategic intervals in each race, with five points for first, four for second, three for third and two for all remaining categories following each segment.
“We wanted to lead the field at the halfway mark, and the team did a fantastic job with the strategy,” said Sharp, with Tequila Patrón ESM concentrating on the four endurance races in 2016.
“Pipo did an unbelievable job pushing his way to the front. We had a power steering problem, which we rebounded from. We’ll be back at Petit Le Mans.”
Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, drivers of the No. 31 Action Express Corvette DP, are third in the standings with 29 points entering the finale.
Points at Petit Le Mans will be scored at four hours, eight hours and the finish at 10 hours.
In GT Le Mans, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner continue to lead in the Daytona and Sebring-winning No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R.
However, their lead stands at one point, 27-26 with four teams tied for second entering the finale.
The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT was sixth in the standings entering the Sahlen’s Six Hours, but Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe won the event and ran second at the halfway point to join the tie for second.
Also one point behind the leaders are Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM, and the two Porsche North America entries, the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, and the No. 912 of Earl Bamber and Frederic Makowiecki.
Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas were second at midway and finished third in the No. 23 Team Seattle/Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R to preserve a one-point lead in GT Daytona with 28 points.
One point back with 27 is the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of John Potter and Andy Lally, Daytona winners and second-place finishers at The Glen.
WeatherTech Championship GTD point leaders Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan – overall winners at Sebring and Watkins Glen – are third with 26 points for the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.
Also in tight contention with 25 points is the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell.
Prototype Challenge sees a split battle for the championship. While the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Robert Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith and Jose Gutierrez encountered problems early in the Sahlen’s Six Hours, the team maintained a three-point lead in the team standings over the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry, 32-29.
In the PC driver standings, a change of teams enabled Kenton Koch to take over a two-point lead over the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports pilots, 34-32.
Koch opened the year with JDC-Miller Motorsports – winning the class in the Rolex 24 – and then joined Performance Tech Motorsports at Watkins Glen, where Koch and co-drivers James French and Kyle Marcelli led at halfway and finished second.
“I think we’re looking pretty good right now in the Patrón [Endurance] Cup,” Koch said. “Hopefully we can put something together for Road Atlanta.
“I can’t thank the Performance Tech crew for putting this together for the Sahlen’s Six Hours, the car was awesome at The Glen.”