For Richard Westbrook, today’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen provides a shot at a repeat victory in the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP, after the team’s only triumph in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season.
Westbrook and Michael Valiante also have one other item to attend to: taking the points lead back, fully, from the fellow Corvette DP lineup of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.
The two pairs are tied on 156 points heading into the sixth of 10 Prototype class races this season.
A year ago, Westbrook got ahead of Alex Brundle in the LMP2-spec Morgan Nissan for OAK Racing with 12 minutes to go, and then held off his countryman in a one-lap green flag dash to the finish.
However, Westbrook does not expect things to be as straightforward from a power perspective this weekend.
“Referring to last year’s race, yeah, I could power past on the straight but this year you can’t do that,” Westbrook told Sportscar365. “They’re much quicker on the straight now.
“It’s good for the BoP to have the P2s quicker. If I’m behind Ozz (Negri) on the restart at the end, I won’t be overtaking him on the straight like I did last year.”
The nature of the Watkins Glen International road course should favor the one primary LMP2-spec contender, in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda driven by Negri and John Pew, along with the five Daytona Prototypes entered.
Both the No. 60 and No. 90 cars have a two-driver lineup, and Westbrook expects the Shank car to be a consistent contender over six hours.
At the most recent permanent road course in Monterey, where Westbrook and Valiante won, the pair got ahead on the pit cycle and survived contact with Negri early in the race to lead what had been the pacesetting car throughout the weekend.
“With a six-hour race and considering John’s pace this year, they’ve been really good,” Westbrook said. “So long as they’re on the lead lap, they’ll be a threat all the way through.”
The now eight-car Prototype field features only three cars with three-driver lineups, and the other five cars with two-driver lineups for the six-hour race.
Whereas Valiante only drove 34 minutes in the two-hour, 40-minute race at Monterey, Westbrook expects the driving distribution to be more equally split at what should be a tougher race.
“We’ll split it all the way. Michael’s really good around here,” Westbrook said. “He’s been good all year.
“We’ll do 50/50 all the way through. This one is tough physically. You don’t want to do 75 percent of the race when you only have two drivers.”