Richard Westbrook wins the rainy Sahlen's 6 Hours of The Glen
After hard rain forced the teams to abandon qualifying and start the race in championship order, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen started under cloudy skies as well. From the very start of the race, Christian Fittipaldi got in the lead, and in the first corners of the race, Bill Auberlen lost control of his BMW Z4 GT3 and swiped one Porsche, but luckily both drivers resumed the race without the yellow flag. In PC, Conor Daly was in the lead, while the GTD and GTLM classes were lead by Patrick Pilet and Madison Snow, but Snow lost the lead to Christopher Haase. Different teams chose different tire strategies for the mixed weather, so many unscheduled pit stops were expected. Little less than half an hour into the race, Bruno Junqueira hit the wall after brushing against Oswaldo Negri, causing a caution flag. During the pit stops, Fittipaldi went for a refuel while Richard Westbrook emerged as the leader. The race restarted ten minutes later with PC leader Conor Daly’s ill timed pit stop, causing Mike Hedlund to take the lead from him. However, after a great battle Hedlund lost the lead to Daniel Burkett.
With 5:11 until the end, a caution has been lifted after Dane Cameron spun Jerome Mee into the barrier. Cameron’s P class Corvette DP suffered wheel and brake damage, while Mee was out of the race. As a result of the crash, Christian Fittipaldi climbed to second overall. After an hour of the race, Westbrook was leading P, PC was lead by Daniel Burkett, GTD leader was Madison Snow again and Patrick Pilet was leading in GTLM. Madison Snow soon lost the lead to #007 Aston Martin driven by Kuno Wittmer in GTD, and Christian Fittipaldi returned to the lead after Richard Westbrook decided to make a late pit stop. Twenty minutes into the second hour, John Edwards overtook Patrick Pilet and took the lead in GTLM class, and Jerome Mee spun his car again after returning to the track. With 4:32 until the end, #07 Mazda Prototype driven by Tom Long stopped because of alternator issues, causing a full course yellow. Luckily, the issue was repaired and the car returned to the track. After the pit stops, the Joey Hand/Scott Pruett Corvette Prototype was the first to get back to the track in front of Joao Barbosa who switched with Fittipaldi. GTLM leaders switched places too, as well as PC leader Daniel Burkett who gave the seat to Matt McMurray. The race restarted with around 4:16 to go and Joao Barbosa lost the second and then third place to Max Angelelli and Richard Westbrook.
The end of the second hour and the beginning of the third one was marked by a big battle for the lead in the slowest, but at the moment the most interesting GTD class. Spencer Pumpelly took the class lead in a Porsche 911 GT America, but was followed by a Viper driven by Marc Goossens and Christina Nielsen in an Aston Martin. With four hours to go, #38 hit the tire wall for the third time in a row, this time not causing a full course yellow. In GTLM, Lucas Luhr took the lead in his BMW Z4 GTE by overtaking Dirk Werner, also in the BMW. With 3:35 to go, race leader Max Angelelli went to the pits and after a driver switch, the Corvette Prototype returned to the track without losing his leading position. In GTD class, Goossens took the lead from Pumpelly, and in GTLM, Lucas Luhr went to the pits to switch with John Edwards and lost the lead to Nick Tandy, Pilet’s co-driver. In the meantime, Dirk Werner became the GTLM class leader and John Edwards hit the wall shortly after returning to the track, causing a full course yellow. With 3:10 to go, the race resumed with Jordan Taylor defending the lead from Joao Barbosa. Halfway into the race, Renger Van Der Zande went to the lead in PC, so after three hours, the leaders were the following: in P, it was Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa who took the lead from Jordan Taylor, GTLM was led by Nick Tandy, and in GTD, the leader was Marc Goossens.
As Goossens went to the pits, the GTD lead was claimed by Townsend Bell in a Ferrari 458 Italia and Tommy Milner eventually took the GTLM lead in a Corvette C7.R With 2:34 to go, Jordan Taylor returned to the lead when Barbosa went to the pits and Fittipaldi returned to the car. Scott Pruett overtook Fittipaldi and started closing down on Jordan Taylor and in GTD, Markus Palttala went to lead the pack after a series of pit stops. Pierre Kaffer soon overtook Tommy Milner to lead the GTLM class in a Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, but Milner returned to the lead as Risi Competizione’s Ferrari pitted. Pit stops in GTLM and GTD classes made Porsche drivers Wolf Henzler and Marco Seefried their class leaders with 2:02 to go.
With two hours to go, Cameron Lawrence went on to take the lead in GTD class, but lost the lead to Marco Seefried after going to the pits. Seefried’s co-driver Andy Lally remained in the lead after a pit stop. As the weather was getting worse, the race took the stable turn, and with 1:34 to go, the full course yellow went up and the race was red flagged with 1:28 to go. Shortly after, with 1:14 to go, the race resumed under yellow.
The last hour of the race began with the Corvette C7.R driven by 24H Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin hitting the wall after making contact with #912 Porsche driven by Earl Bamber, causing a full course yellow. With 52 minutes to go, the race restarted with a battle between Prototype cars. As both Ricky Taylor and Joey Hand spun and hit the wall and each other, Christian Fittipaldi went to the lead. However, Fittipaldi’s co-driver Joao Barbosa had to serve a drive through penalty, which returned Joey Hand to the lead and Richard Westbrook to the second place. Because of debris from Ricky Taylor’s car, the race was yellow flagged again and the caution period was prolonged because the return of heavy showers. With 16 minutes to go, the race resumed with Hand and Westbrook battling for first. As Joey Hand went to the pits for fuel, it was Westbrook who took the lead in the final minutes of the race. Kuno Wittmer’s #007 Aston Martin and #23 Porsche driven by Mario Farnbacher went off track, causing the yellow.
The race was white flagged with three minutes to go and the race was won by VisitFlorida.com’s Corvette DP driven by Richard Westbrook who was in front of Joey Hand and Joao Barbosa. In PC class, the winner was Starworks Motorsports’ Van Der Zende, while the GTLM and GTD Class wins were claimed by Team Falken Tire’s Wolf Henzler and Riley Motorsports’ Marc Goossens.