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Watkins Glen Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ first notebook from Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

***IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams unloaded Thursday at Watkins Glen International, in preparation for Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, which will feature a capacity 56-car field.

***A number of drivers and teams are coming off the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, including all three overall winners and four additional class victors. Nicklas Nielsen is with LMP2 squad Richard Mille AF Corse while his Ferrari AF Corse co-drivers Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina are in Ferrari 296 GT3 entries from Cetilar Racing and AF Corse, respectively (pictured above).

***Oliver Jarvis and Bijoy Garg, who won LMP2 with United Autosports, meanwhile are in Pfaff Motorsports’ McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in GTD Pro and United’s LMP2 entry, respectively, this weekend.

***Additionally, Ben Barnicoat and Nico Varrone, who shared an AF Corse Oreca 07 Gibson to LMP2 Pro-Am subclass honors, are here this weekend for DragonSpeed and Vasser Sullivan, in LMP2 and GTD Pro, respectively.

***The GTP class will feature a second three-driver lineup after all, with confirmation that Tom Blomqvist will rejoin Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R. Blomqvist was not originally slated to contest the race according to the team’s director of race operations Chris Mitchum, although was drafted back in after losing his NTT IndyCar Series ride with Meyer Shank Racing.

***Blomqvist said: “After a difficult past month for me personally, to be returning to a championship that I love competing in makes me very motivated and I can’t wait to get back in the paddock and hit the ground running.”

***The other GTP class entry with a three-driver lineup is the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Porsche 963, which sees Phil Hanson rejoin full-time pilots Richard Westbrook and Tijmen van der Helm.

***There have been notable changes to the 3.45-mile circuit since last year’s race, with the addition of a rumble strip in Turn 1 and an additional “sausage” curb at the Bus Stop chicane, which was constructed following mouthpiece data from NASCAR driver Kyle Larson. The addition was met with mixed reactions in pre-event testing.

***GTD Pro points leader Seb Priaulx said in a pre-event IMSA Zoom call that the changes produced quicker speeds through the Bus Stop for the production-based cars, which use the curb, while prototypes are understood to be staying away from the new additions.

***Ricky Taylor said: “I think for the GT guys, some of the Super Trofeos were still going all the way to the wall, so I think for them it didn’t change much. But for the prototypes, we were already going around it, and even that first element of the existing curb that’s still there, it’s pretty much the same. That’s all we were able to use before and that’s all we’re going to keep using, at least from when we tested.”

***Taylor revealed that three of the four Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti drivers haven’t driven the Acura ARX-06 in the rain before. Louis Deletraz was the only one to have experienced the LMDh car in wet weather conditions. Forecasts call for rain and thunderstorms all weekend, mixed with near-oppressive heat and humidity in Upstate New York.

***GTP teams are using Michelin’s hard compound slick tire for the first time this season, which has been met with mixed views. Several drivers, including Renger van der Zande, have been vocal against its use due to the amount of time needed to build up temperature. This particularly seems to impact the Cadillac GTP car the most.

***IMSA and Michelin determined the tire specifications based on multiple criteria including track characteristics, forecasted ambient temperatures and other factors. The hard compound is set to also be used at Road America and Indianapolis, with the class returning to the medium, as well as potentially the soft for night-time running, at the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in October.

***The GTD Pro and GTD classes, meanwhile, are expecting considerably faster lap times this weekend, in dry conditions, with the new-for-2024 Michelin Pilot Sport Pro GT H1 compound, which completed a group test with multiple teams at The Glen following last year’s race as part of the tire’s development process.

***Vasser Sullivan’s Parker Thompson said: “The most interesting part of this is to see how the new Michelin [Pilot Sport Pro] tire affects Watkins Glen. It looks like it’s going to be a lot faster this year than it was years prior.”

***AO Racing heads into the weekend seeking its third consecutive GTD Pro class victory, with Priaulx and Laurin Heinrich having extended their championship lead to 84 points over Vasser Sullivan’s Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth following victory last time out in Detroit.

***Priaulx said: “It’s amazing. We’re a one-car team and all these manufacturer guys with big entries like Corvette, Lexus, these guys are at the top of their game for many years. We’re a privateer team pretty much and very new. To win these big races like this just shows how hard they’re working.”

***The No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 of the all-American lineup of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Neil Verhgan is sporting a special stars-and-stripes livery this weekend.

***Both of the AO cars have also incorporated the American flag into its distinct season-long liveries, in recognition of the nation’s independence day on July 4. The six-hour race typically falls closer to the holiday than this year, which was moved up by one week to avoid a clash with the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

***Sportscar365 understands that Spa and the Six Hours of The Glen are set to clash next year, with IMSA moving back to its traditional date on the last weekend of June, as announced in March during its 2025 calendar unveil.

***WeatherTech Championship competitors have a single 90-minute practice session on tap for Friday, from 1:25-2:55 p.m. EDT.

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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