Olivier Pla believes he would have needed only one more lap to have potentially pulled off victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, admitting that the late-race yellow came at an inopportune time for his Meyer Shank Racing team.
Pla and co-driver Dane Cameron settled for a runner-up finish on Sunday after leading a race-high 125 laps in third round of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
While having started from second on the grid, Cameron put the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 out front on the opening lap and along with Pla managed much of the race.
The Frenchman held a 15-second lead at the time of the race’s fourth full-course caution with 1 hour and 3 minutes to go when Gabriel Aubry crashed his No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks Oreca 07 Gibson, eliminating the Acura DPi’s advantage at the time.
A single-tire change for Harry Tincknell saw the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P leapfrog Pla on the last round of pit stops, which gave the edge to the Multimatic-run crew that scored victory.
“Dane gave me the car with a massive gap, but that last yellow came at the wrong moment, so I knew what I had to do and after that and that it would be a fuel saving race,” said Pla.
“I was able to close in on the Mazda at the end, but unfortunately traffic got in the way.
“We just needed another lap, it’s a shame. The Meyer Shank Racing team did a perfect job and we know what pace we have so we will need to keep it going.”
Cameron added: “I am disappointed to come up short after what was a really great day – the best day of the year for us. I am proud of everyone for executing so well today.
“It hasn’t been an easy year with results, but today was a good showing for us.
“There was an odd call during the yellow about spacing, so when it stayed green longer than expected, that is when things changed.
“While we didn’t win today, I am super happy with the effort this Meyer Shank Racing team put in today.
“P2 is good and in a couple days we get to do it again knowing we have a great package. Today wasn’t our day but we will go after it on Friday.”
No. 31 Action Express Cadillac Crew Rues Pit Lane Penalty
Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Mike Conway salvaged a fourth place finish after overcoming a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi.V-R made a late-race charge courtesy of Derani, who was on an alternative fuel strategy in his final stint compared to the top three finishers which all pitted when the pit lane opened under yellow with 53 minutes to go.
“We had all of the ups and downs today,” Nasr said. “We fell back and then we got the lead at one point.
“We ran out of fuel [heading into the pit stop]. The domino effect from that was when I entered pit lane, I couldn’t down shift the gears, so I came in too fast.
“We got a drive through [penalty] and went to last. We were in contention for a podium, but then it was a fuel race to the end.
“It’s not the cleanest race we expected. We’ve got to do a better job for this coming weekend.”