Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler have taken the Team Falken Tire Porsche to its first win of the season, under caution, in changeable and primarily wet conditions at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
The pair of drivers survived a chaotic race in the GT Le Mans class in the No. 17 Porsche 911 RSR after starting seventh, avoiding any sort of issues, and then surviving one final scare on fuel in the final 10 minutes.
Henzler made it into the lead after the five-hour mark, when Oliver Gavin in the class-leading No. 4 Corvette C7.R reported understeer and broken steering, and stopped on driver’s right exiting Turn 1.
That took the Corvette out of the race, preventing the Gavin/Tommy Milner pairing from scoring another endurance race win after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.
It also prevented Corvette Racing from adding Watkins Glen to its run of wins this year at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans.
Meanwhile Henzler was due to hold off fellow Porsche factory driver Earl Bamber, or hope his car had enough fuel, before the final yellow occurred for two GT Daytona class cars off course in the final 10 minutes.
The win means Falken has won a race in either the American Le Mans Series or TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at least once in each of the last five years.
Bamber took the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR past Bill Auberlen in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE within the final 16 minutes for second.
It marked the second battle for second between the two in the race. On the opening lap, Auberlen spun in front of Bamber exiting Turn 6, and contact damaged Bamber’s front splitter, which required a replacement front assembly.
Bamber shared the No. 912 car with Jorg Bergmeister and Auberlen shared the No. 25 BMW with Dirk Werner.
The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished fourth after a relatively uneventful day, save for one off-course moment, and the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia of Pierre Kaffer and Giancarlo Fisichella completed the top five.
A pit stop within the final hour dropped the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet to sixth, while the No. 4 Corvette C7.R was classified seventh and the No. 24 BMW Team RLL eighth after a mid-race crash for John Edwards.
Meanwhile, GT Daytona was a race-long roller coaster ride between all 11 cars in class, but ultimately saw the No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R score its second win in three Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races this year, having also won at Daytona.
Patron Endurance Cup points leaders Al Carter and Cameron Lawrence were joined by Marc Goossens in the ViperExchange.com entry.
The final caution that occurred with 10 minutes to go changed the complexion of the race in class.
Lawrence’s mid-race stint on slicks as the rain intensified helped put the No. 93 car into win position, and Goossens took over the lead from Andy Lally in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America just after the five-hour mark.
In the final 16 minutes of green flag running, Goossens led Farnbacher before Farnbacher ran off course at the toe of the boot in the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
Farnbacher’s off course moment was the second incident in the final 10 minutes, and came after Kuno Wittmer crashed on the front straight in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. Wittmer’s accident brought out the final caution flag of the race.
Wittmer and Christina Nielsen fought through a lack of power during the race, and Wittmer, like Lawrence, managed to run one stint in the fifth hour on dry weather slicks before the rain intensified. They were classified 10th.
The late-race drama promoted the No. 44 Magnus Porsche of Lally, John Potter and Marco Seefried to second in class and the overall class points-leading No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS of Dion von Moltke, Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller to third.
The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, and No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Leh Keen, Cooper MacNeil and Andrew Davis, completed the top five.
Unofficially, the Werner/Auberlen and Magnussen/Garcia pairings are tied on 157 points apiece in GTLM, with a 12-point lead over the Risi Ferrari and second BMW lineups.
In GTD, von Moltke and Haase have a 10-point lead on Keen and MacNeil.
GTLM races next at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on July 12, while GTD is off until Lime Rock Park on July 25.
RESULTS: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen