Watkins Glen: Race report

Bergmeister Retakes Points Lead with Victory Alongside Said in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 3, 2006) -- In a race featuring 20 lead changes among nine cars and 12 drivers, Jorg Bergmeister reclaimed the lead in the ...

Bergmeister Retakes Points Lead with Victory Alongside Said in Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (June 3, 2006) -- In a race featuring 20 lead changes among nine cars and 12 drivers, Jorg Bergmeister reclaimed the lead in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype driver championship with a victory alongside co-driver Boris Said in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

When then-race leader Alex Gurney made his final pit stop of the race with 21 laps remaining in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley, Bergmeister took the lead in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley. The German maintained the lead through two late full-course caution periods and pulled away on both restarts to win by 3.495 seconds over Gurney after leading three different times for a total of 33 laps.

Bergmeister parlayed the victory into a four-point lead in the Daytona Prototype driver standings, 291-287, over No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley co-drivers Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz. It was Bergmeister's first Rolex Series overall victory since last September at Phoenix International Raceway, and he has now finished inside the top-eight positions in all nine of his 2006 Rolex Series starts.

"It definitely was exciting," Bergmeister said. "Our team did an awesome job, Krohn Racing. After the trouble we had at the beginning of practice where my usual teammate couldn't compete today, Boris did an awesome job with his stint in the middle of the race under difficult conditions. It was just awesome today."

Said--who served as a replacement driver for 17-year-old Colin Braun in the No. 76 machine--earned his first career Rolex Series overall victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. It was Said's fourth career Daytona Prototype start and his first appearance in the top Rolex Series class since the 2006 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"I pretty much got a gift by being on the team with them," Said remarked. "They called me Tuesday when I was testing my NEXTEL Cup car in Atlanta and they asked me if could come stand by just in case something happened. He (Jorg) probably drove about four hours. I just drove about an hour-and-a-half in the middle, and he gave me a win so I feel pretty happy. Hopefully, I'll be sitting up here in August. I'm pretty happy."

Post-race technical inspection revealed that the race-winning No. 76 Ford Riley was too low, and the team was fined $2,000, which will be donated to Camp Boggy Creek in Eustis, Fla., the preferred charity of the Grand American Road Racing Association. The team and drivers keep the victory, as well as all championship points earned in the race.

Gurney and co-driver Jon Fogarty came home second in the No. 99 machine, which was the duo's second runner-up result in the last three races after finishing second in the Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month. Fogarty led all drivers with a total of 35 laps led, while Gurney led 10 laps himself to total a race-high of 45 laps at the front of the field for the No. 99 GAINSCO machine. It was Gurney's second runner-up performance in three starts at Watkins Glen International, while Fogarty made his debut at The Glen this weekend.

Gurney and Fogarty rallied back after falling a lap down, as Gurney and Michael Valiante in the No. 5 Make A Wish/Z-Line Designs/Finlay Motorsports Ford Crawford made contact on the opening lap. The damage forced Gurney onto pit lane for a new nose, but the team battled all the way back to lead for the first time on Lap 57 of the 154-lap race. At one point within the final two hours, the No. 99 machine led by more than 15 seconds.

"It's really a shame, we were feeling like we could win this race," Gurney said. "What we knew and what we were doing with the tires really helped our pace. It felt like that at the start of the race. It was just unfortunate that we got into some contact. We actually damaged the exhaust a little bit. I think it hurt us a little bit on top speed. Jon was incredible in the wet. I'm sure you all saw that. I wish we could have gotten the win for him. It was very tough holding off Max (Angelelli) at the end. I was just lucky to do it and happy to do it. I just hope to put up a stronger fight at the next race."

"All in all, it was an eventful race for us," Fogarty said. "We had contact right on the first lap, and we had to come in and change the nose. We also had a stop-and-go penalty for what they deemed avoidable contact. It just happens. It's racing. It was kind of back and forth, but once the rain came, we had something. We were able to put it back up to the front. We were a little out of sequence on our pit strategy, but we were still able to keep the car up front. If we would fall back, we could make it back to the front under those wet conditions. As the track dried out at the end, we weren't really sure about our fuel window and going to slicks. I handed over the car to Alex and it's kind of where the chips fell. It was a good run, all in all, and we were just a little short this weekend, but I'm still pleased with second."

Angelelli co-drove the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to a third-place result alongside Wayne Taylor and Ryan Briscoe. Angelelli and Taylor--the defending Daytona Prototype co-champions--had won each of the last two events at Watkins Glen International, and have now finished on the podium in five of their six career Rolex Series starts at the venue. Briscoe, meanwhile, made his first Rolex Series appearance at Watkins Glen and just his second appearance ever in the Rolex Series. It was also Angelelli's fourth consecutive top-four result. Angelelli led 26 laps in the race, while Briscoe led 10.

Oswaldo Negri Jr.--who led one lap in the race--and Mark Patterson came home fourth in the No. 60 Flight Options/Net App Lexus Riley for Michael Shank Racing to earn their best result since finishing second in January's Rolex 24 At Daytona. Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger completed the top five in the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports. It was the duo's fourth top-six result in eight races.


No. 72 NEC Porsche GT3 co-drivers Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler scored their second GT class victories of the season--and perhaps more importantly closed the gap in the championship chase--with a convincing victory in Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen for Tafel Racing.

Liddell started the No. 72 car from the outside of the class front row, but quickly took the lead, passing polesitter--and points co-leader--Marc Bunting in the No. 65 TRG/F1 Air Pontiac GTO.R in the first turn on the first lap. The Scot built a healthy lead throughout his opening stint, handing off to Henzler during a green flag run on Lap 61.

"I must say the slick tires performed very well," said Liddell. "In the end, in the damp, you could stay on slicks. We drove the whole race on slicks. We did consider going to wets a couple of times, but the way the weather was moving in, it was clear that it was raining here but it was dry on the back. Then when it was raining on the back, it was clear on the pit straight and the esses. We came into this race and we made a deliberate effort to set the car up in such a way that it would handle a better situation for the wet conditions. In the end, this played very well. It was a good strategy all around."

During the change, the No. 36 Ajilon Consulting Porsche GT3 of Randy Pobst inherited the lead. Just three laps later the full-course caution came out, forcing the class field a lap down to Pobst. However, a later caution period brought the GT field back within striking distance of the No. 36 Porsche, and Henzler passed the machine shortly after the restart. Neither he nor Liddell would relinquish the lead, and the duo eventually won by a one lap margin on the rest of the field. The win brings the duo within 10 points, 342-332, of co-leaders Bunting and Andy Lally, who finished fourth in the six-hour event.

"For sure it was a very hard race, especially under these conditions," said Henzler. "It's very hard to drive. The team did a very good job. We had a pretty good set up. Our pit stops were very good on time and she was perfect today. This was the key to win the race. We were ahead of the other guys and I think it was because of the strategy."

Pobst and co-driver Ian Baas wound up second in the No. 36 machine for the duo's best finish since their GT class victory in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. It was the tandem's third podium finish of the season in only four races, having also finished third in class in Round 4 at Virginia International Raceway.

"I'm just thrilled with the job TPC racing does with this car," said Pobst. "The inclement weather was good for us. We had a great car in the wet conditions, and strategy was an important part. The race was entertaining; it was fascinating, it was right up my alley. Strategy is so important in Rolex GT, because we're not the overall class. That makes it really satisfying. It feels like a win."

"I'm really happy to bring the TPC Porsche in second place," said Baas. "It was a difficult race, and the team hit all the marks. Second place really feels like a win for this car, because it's got a lot of time on it and it's still running strong. The conditions were changing constantly and you really had to get a good read on the track."

Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins finished third in the No. 64 TRG/iRise Pontiac GTO.R, their seventh-straight top-four class finishes, and extends TRG's streak of GT podium finishes to 14 races, dating back to the CompUSA 200 at The Glen last August. Edwards and teammate Lally were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the running order on the final lap when third-place-running David Murry hit a puddle that allowed both Edwards and Lally to pass. Murry and his No. 80 Shoes for Crews/Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 co-driver Leh Keen wound up fifth.


No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve Porsche Crawford co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Hoover Orsi each led 13 laps in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Fittipaldi inherited the lead on Lap 13 when Angelelli made his first stop, while Orsi--making his Rolex Series debut--inherited the lead on Lap 59. Fittipaldi also led three laps late in the race when then leaders Fogarty and Bergmeister made their final stops, but a late incident relegated the duo to a 13th-place result.... Germany's Mike Rockenfeller led two laps in the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford before giving way to co-driver Patrick Long, who was caught up in an incident with the No. 39 machine late in the race in Turn 1. The incident cost the No. 23 machine several positions and also yielded an avoidable contact penalty. Long and Rockenfeller wound up 15th... Alex Figge, fresh off his first-ever Rolex Series podium with a runner-up finish with co-driver Ryan Dalziel in last month's GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway, also spent time in the lead in the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms Casino Pontiac Riley. Figge led the field to a Lap 65 restart and remained out front for five laps on his way to a 10th place overall finish for the Pacific Coast Motorsports team. Other lap leaders included Valiante, who led one lap en route to a 12th-place result alongside co-driver Rob Finlay in the No. 5 Ford Crawford, and Mark Goossens, who led five laps and combined with Milka Duno and Stefan Johansson to finish 11th in the No. 11 CITGO Racing by SAMAX Pontiac Riley... Al Unser Jr. and Burt and Brian Frisselle charged from a 22nd-place starting spot to a ninth-place result in the No. 8 A1 Team USA/GlycoMax Porsche Doran for Synergy Racing to earn the Daytona Prototype "SunTrust Improve Your Position Award." Pobst and Baas earned similar honors in the GT class for their charge from 13th to second.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Milka Duno , Alex Gurney , Ryan Dalziel , Paul Edwards , Boris Said , Al Unser Jr. , Jon Fogarty , Scott Pruett , Wayne Taylor , David Murry , Colin Braun , Robin Liddell , Hoover Orsi , Michael Valiante , Kelly Collins , Luis Diaz , Andy Lally , Jörg Bergmeister , Patrick Long , Ryan Briscoe , Alex Figge , Oswaldo Negri Jr. , Marc Bunting , Chip Ganassi , Ian Baas , Mike Rockenfeller , Wolf Henzler , Lehman Keen , Brian Frisselle , Rob Finlay , Michael Shank
Teams Krohn Racing , Michael Shank Racing