Watkins Glen IMSA: JDC-Miller, Ford, Turner win six-hour epic

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Watkins Glen IMSA: JDC-Miller, Ford, Turner win six-hour epic
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
Jul 1, 2018, 8:25 PM

JDC Miller’s Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller pulled off a superb victory in the Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen as the Ford GT of Dirk Muller and Joey Hand conquered GTLM and Turner Motorsports captured GTD honors.

Start: #32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, P: Phil Hanson, Bruno Senna, Paul Di Resta
#99 JDC/Miller Motorsports ORECA 07, P: Stephen Simpson, Mikhail Goikhberg, Chris Miller
#99 JDC/Miller Motorsports ORECA 07, P: Stephen Simpson
#66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, GTLM: Dirk Müller, Joey Hand
#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, GTLM: Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen
#48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, GTD: Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers
#6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, P: Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya
#51 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3, GTD: Francesco Piovanetti, Oswaldo Negri Jr., Daniel Serra
#54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2, P: Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Romain Dumas
#32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, P: Paul Di Resta
#54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2, P: Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Romain Dumas, #51 Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari 488 GT3, GTD: Francesco Piovanetti, Ozz Negri, Daniel Serra
#96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, GTD: Dillon Machavern, Markus Palttala, Don Yount

Prototype

CORE autosport decided to start the race with Jon Bennett at the wheel of the #54 Oreca which had won pole thanks to Colin Braun at the wheel, so were therefore obliged to start from 16th and last of the Prototypes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

At the drop of the green, Dane Cameron’s Acura Team Penske ARX-05 took the lead from default polesitter Paul di Resta of United Autosports into the first corner of the first lap, but just a couple of corners later, Tristan Vautier spun the Spirit of Daytona Cadillac going up the hill on cold tires. The stack up that followed involved the two ESM Nissans striking the barrier – one of them also collecting Vautier – all needing repairs. The #22 Nissan of Nicolas Lapierre was retired, while its sister #2 car and the SoD Cadillac were penalized for entering a closed pit and were never a factor again.

Vautier’s troubles weren’t over as Cameron rubbed the Cadillac’s rear as he lapped him at Turn 7 on Lap 12, sending the blue car looping gently into the tire barrier and requiring new rear-end bodywork.

Meanwhile, Cameron was leading di Resta by 5sec, while Simpson had moved the #99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca around Ricky Taylor in the second Acura to grab third and started homing in on the UA Ligier in second. In fifth and sixth ran Gustavo Yacaman in the AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport Ligier and Simon Trummer in another JDC-Miller Oreca, ahead of the leading Cadillac, the Wayne Taylor Racing entry at this point driven by Renger van der Zande.

Following the first round of stops Cameron led Simpson while a slow stop for United Autosports dropped its Ligier – now with Phil Hanson at the wheel – to fourth behind Taylor in the second Acura.

At the 55min mark, a full-course caution flew for a large chunk of ESM Nissan lying on the racing line exiting Turn 1. From the restart, Yacaman showed every intention of passing the UA Ligier for fourth but couldn’t quite make it happen, and in fact, Trummer’s JDC-Miller and van der Zande’s WTR Cadillac moved right onto the tail of this battle as they worked through GT cars.

The second round of stops saw Cameron and Taylor remain onboard the leading and third-placed Acuras respectively to do triple stints, while Misha Goikhberg took over the #99 JDC-Miller car from Simpson, but fell behind R. Taylor.

Jordan Taylor, who’d replaced van der Zande, was now ahead of the second JDC car, in which Robert Alon had taken over from

The third round of stops resulted in the Acuras swapping places, Helio Castroneves in the #7 car emerging from pitlane ahead of fellow ex-IndyCar star and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. When Hanson pitted the UA Ligier to hand over to Bruno Senna, Castroneves was 6.5sec ahead of JPM. That gap would be all but eradicated by traffic however, and Castroneves was soon into the pits for a long stop with gear linkage issues.

Romain Dumas, who’d been driving a brilliant race to move the CORE #54 car into contention made an error passing the GTD leader and spun himself down to 12th.

By the time Montoya stopped the #6 Acura for a fourth time, he had a 40sec lead over Goikhberg’s #99 JDC Miller entry. When Misha stopped, team owner Chris Miller replaced him, but Senna’s late fourth stop and strong pace got him ahead of Miller and into a legitimate second place. Jordan Taylor also got around Miller who would soon come under pressure from Harry Tincknell in the #55 Mazda.

Montoya handed his Acura back to Cameron with a 40sec lead over Senna. A few laps later polesitter Braun, who’d been running sixth, had a clash with Joel Miller’s Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca, which resulted in Miller spinning into a tire barrier and then dropping debris as he limped back to the pits. Out came the full-course caution, with Senna leading Taylor, Miller and the recently-stopped #6 Acura. When pitlane opened, Cameron stayed out as all his closest rivals stopped.

That was the chance that the laggardly Cadillacs needed to move up, so that Cameron led Filipe Albuquerque in the #5 Action Express DPi-V.R, Senna, Mike Conway in the #31 AXR Cadillac, van der Zande’s WTR Cadillac and Miller in the #99 Oreca. Van der Zande immediately passed Conway at the restart, and Braun also passed the Cadillac to move into the top five for CORE.

Meanwhile Senna had made short work of Albuquerque and reeled in Cameron in the Penske Acura whenever they hit traffic, but with 1h45m to go, Braun started moving in on that UA Ligier, having disposed of the WTR Cadillac.

Cameron pitted from the lead on Lap 143, leaving Senna to focus on the rapidly closing CORE autosport machine which was filling his mirrors by Lap 145 but then ducked into the pits. Two laps later, Senna did the same and handed over to Paul di Resta. The Scot emerged 4.7sec behind Cameron and half a second ahead of Braun. The pair of P2 cars then closed on the DPi machine in front, although the #7 Penske Acura of Taylor, running five laps down but now healthy, was able to take up formation behind Cameron to act as tailgunner.

Finally second place changed hands when Braun nudged the Ligier, pushing the rear diffuser against the left-rear tire. Both cars stopped, the United Autosports team wrestling bodywork away from the car, thereby elongating the stop, and falling 85sec off the lead, 40sec behind the CORE machine.

Cameron pitted with 84mins to go and handed off to Montoya, who emerged 15sec behind Braun who’d set some scorching laps since the car’s stop.

However, a full course caution had to fly after the Magnus Racing Audi GTD car got a puncture and dropped a tire carcass into the middle of the track with 48mins to go, and that allowed the field to close up and make their final stop under caution. Montoya’s Acura was beaten off pitlane… but not by the CORE car but by Jordan Taylor’s WTR Cadillac! Romain Dumas replaced Braun, but their stop ran way too long in the circumstances, falling to eighth behind di Resta in the UA Ligier. Montoya was very aggressive on the restart with 36mins to go, running side by side with Taylor through the Esses up the hill but the pair were both drafted by Simpson in the #99 JDC Miller Motorsports car, who outbraked them into the lead as they entered the Bus Stop chicane. Montoya appeared to have nothing for him.

Behind them, Di Resta and Dumas surged forward into third and fourth respectively but their own squabble meant they couldn’t close on Montoya’s Acura, despite potentially being faster.

When Dumas finally got around di Resta, he closed up on Montoya who, with seven minutes to go, suddenly found himself only half a second behind Simpson because the leader got held up by Tristan Nunez’s backmarker Mazda. However, he still ahd nothing for the leader, and remarkably, Dumas carried enough speed through the final turn to snatch second from JPM at the checkers.

GT Le Mans

In the opening stint, the Ford GTs of Richard Westbrook and Joey Hand held onto their qualifying 1-2 ahead of the Corvettes of Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia, with Earl Bamber and Patrick Pilet running fifth and sixth in the two Porsches ahead of the BMWs of Tom Blomqvist and Connor De Phillippi.

The symmetry was broken up by pitstops under yellow at the 55min. Behind the Fords, Laurens Vanthoor in the #912 Porsche beat out the #4 Corvette now with Oliver Gavin at the wheel, while Nick Tandy’s Porsche had beaten the #3 Corvette to pitlane exit. Symmetry would be regained when Tandy passed Gavin for fourth, and in fact Tandy’s momentum kept going, passing teammate Vanthoor into the Bus Stop chicane on Lap 44 at the 89min mark.

The Porsche drivers swapped back at their second round of stops – as did the Corvette pilots, who’d fallen away from the Ford vs Porsche battle. Finally the Ford drivers gave up their seats, Hand making way for Dirk Muller, who immediately lost second place to the Porsche of Pilet after they left pitlane, while Briscoe took over the leading Ford from Westbrook. In fact Muller really couldn’t get going in the #66 Ford and fell to fourth, now behind both Porsches which closed up on Briscoe.

Pilet finally muscled past Briscoe on the run to the Bus Stop chicane on their 66th lap, just past the two-hour mark. Twenty minutes later, Bamber made a less gracious pass on Briscoe at the same spot, running him off the road at the left-handed part of the chicane. That allowed Muller to pass his teammate for third, and keep the #912 Porsche in sight. However, none of these three had any answer for the #911 Porsche of Pilet at this stage, which had pulled a 13sec lead. Following the next round of stops, Garcia in the #3 Corvette moved up to fourth behind the Porsches and Muller’s Ford, and ahead of Briscoe’s Ford.

After the Braun/Miller-induced yellow, however, Oliver Gavin found himself leading Briscoe, Garcia, Tandy, Hand and Bamber – Corvette, Ford, Corvette, Porsche, Ford, Porsche – a remarkable flip.

But Bamber got past Hand on the final corner of the first lap after the restart, and then zapped Tandy when the Briton tripped over a GTD machine. A few laps later, with two hours to go, the Porsche drivers and Hand were in prime position to watch Garcia make it a Corvette 1-2 as he went around the outside of Briscoe into the Bus Stop chicane.

Garcia then pulled away from the Ford and closed on teammate Gavin, while the Porsches couldn’t get past Briscoe. The #3 Corvette hit the front on Lap 135, with 1h45m to go. Gavin then pitted and handed over to Milner, as Vanthoor took over from Bamber in the #912 Porsche.

With 85mins to go, Garcia pitted from a nine-second lead and relinquished the driver seat to Magnussen, but gradually his nearest opposition – now Muller in the #66 Ford – crept up right onto the tail of the Dane with under an hour to go. Behind, Milner held off Vanthoor’s Porsche until Lap 160, with 55mins to go, as Westbrook and Pilet pulled onto their tail.

Following the stops and restart at the 36mins mark, Muller snatched the lead from Garcia to head GTLM, as Pilet took third ahead of Milner, Vanthoor and Westbrook. Vanthoor then got past Milner to grab fourth, and that remained the order to the checkers.

GT Daytona

Over the opening stint, polewinner Jack Hawksworth kept his Lexus RC F comfortably clear of Christopher Mies in the Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 which was soon passed by the second Lexus of Kyle Marcelli, chased by the two Meyer Shank Acura NSXs of Lawson Aschenbach and Alvaro Parente, split in the early laps by Jeff Segal’s Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488.

MSR managed to get Aschenbach out ahead of the second of the Lexus cars, now with Dominik Baumann at the wheel, while leader Jack Hawksworth had handed the lead Lexus to Mario Farnbacher. But following the restart, Baumann dramatically but slowed in the run up to the chicane, and dropped to 13th. A few laps later, it stopped altogether and went behind the wall.

The Land Audi went a lap too long before its second stop, and Sheldon van der Linde ran out of fuel on track, having to coast back to the pits. That left the top runners as Justin Marks in the #93 Acura – recently taken over from Aschenbach – ahead of the #15 Lexus of David Heinemeier Hansson, the #86 Acura, now with Katherine Legge at the wheel, Bryan Sellers in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini and Luca Stolz in the Riley Mercedes AMG GT.

This would change radically when Marks was struck by Dumas in the #54 CORE Prototype, and had to pit, handing the lead to DHH’s Lexus. However, Legge was on a charge and took the class lead on Lap 82 after a pass that lasted three corners.

Farnbacher would take over from Heinemeier Hansson and put Legge under pressure but the pair of them were now behind the Riley Mercedes of Stolz. They both stopped before Legge who j-u-s-t hit pitlane before it was closed under caution for the Braun/Miller clash. She handed over to Alvaro Parente but the #86 Acura emerged behind both Madison Snow in the Paul Miller Lambo and the Riley Mercedes of Jeroen Bleekemolen. However, Bleekemolen would have to serve a drive-through penalty for having its wheels rotating while still up on the jacks. That dropped the Mercedes even behind the Scuderia Corsa #63 Ferrari, which had survived a fuel fire on pitlane.

Legge replaced Parente with 100 minutes to go and she moved the Meyer Shank NSX into a 2.5sec lead over van der Linde’s Land Motorsports Audi with 80mins remaining, while Snow was a further 4sec down. However the Land Audi hunted down the Acura, and after a tense battle, Legge had to give way to van der Linde with 66mins remaining. She then had her mirrors full of Snow in the Lamborghini… and then the remarkable Bleekemolen who’d recovered from his penalty and demoted Snow. Soon he’d move past Legge and into second.

But the Riley driver’s hard work was undone with a slow stop under the final caution, allowing the Land Audi back in front with van der Linde at the wheel. The German team was then given a 60sec stop-and-hold penalty for serving its car in a closed pit. When it failed to take the penalty within the allotted time, a drive-through was also imposed. When it finally stopped, the R8 went straight behind the wall.

That let Markus Palttala in the Turner Motorsports into the lead, the Finn having sneaked ahead of Parente in the Acura NSX. Parente then had to spend his closing laps defending from Sellers in the PMR Lambo, something he managed to do with ease, while Hawksworth clawed the #15 Lexus back into fourth ahead of Bleekemolen.

IMSA Watkins Glen Six Hours, Race

Cla ClassNumDriverChassisLapsTimeGapIntervalRetirementPitsPoints
1   P 99 canada  Mikhail Goikhberg 
united_states  Chris Miller 
south_africa  Stephen Simpson 
ORECA LMP2 202         8  
2   P 54 france  Romain Dumas 
united_states  Jon Bennett 
united_states  Colin Braun 
ORECA LMP2 202 1.954       8  
3   P 6 colombia  Juan Pablo Montoya 
france  Simon Pagenaud 
united_states  Dane Cameron 
Acura DPi 202 2.096       7  
4   P 32 brazil  Bruno Senna 
united_kingdom  Paul di Resta 
united_kingdom  Philip Hanson 
Ligier LMP2 202 9.283       8  
5   P 10 united_states  Jordan Taylor 
united_states  Ryan Hunter-Reay 
netherlands  Renger van der Zande 
Cadillac DPi 202 12.158       8  
6   P 5 brazil  Christian Fittipaldi 
portugal  Joao Barbosa 
colombia  Gabby Chaves 
Cadillac DPi 202 12.617       9  
7   P 31 united_kingdom  Mike Conway 
united_states  Eric Curran 
brazil  Felipe Nasr 
Cadillac DPi 202 18.727       9  
8   P 85 switzerland  Simon Trummer 
france  Nelson Panciatici 
united_states  Robert Alon 
ORECA LMP2 202 20.655       8  
9   P 52 colombia  Gustavo Yacaman 
colombia  Sebastian Saavedra 
united_states  Will Owen 
Ligier LMP2 202 1'00.247       8  
10   P 55 united_kingdom  Harry Tincknell 
united_states  Spencer Pigot 
united_states  Jonathan Bomarito 
Mazda DPi 202 1'13.100       11  
11   P 90 united_states  Matt McMurry 
france  Tristan Vautier 
italy  Eddie Cheever III 
Cadillac DPi 198 4 laps       11  
12   P 7 brazil  Helio Castroneves 
united_states  Graham Rahal 
united_states  Ricky Taylor 
Acura DPi 198 4 laps       11  
13   GTLM 66 france  Sébastien Bourdais 
united_states  Joey Hand 
germany  Dirk Müller 
Ford GT 190 12 laps       6  
14   GTLM 3 denmark  Jan Magnussen 
spain  Antonio Garcia 
germany  Mike Rockenfeller 
Corvette C7.R 190 12 laps       6  
15   GTLM 911 united_kingdom  Nick Tandy 
france  Patrick Pilet 
france  Frédéric Makowiecki 
Porsche 911 RSR 190 12 laps       6  
16   GTLM 912 italy  Gianmaria Bruni 
new_zealand  Earl Bamber 
belgium  Laurens Vanthoor 
Porsche 911 RSR 190 12 laps       6  
17   GTLM 4 switzerland  Marcel Fassler 
united_kingdom  Oliver Gavin 
united_states  Tommy Milner 
Corvette C7.R 189 13 laps       6  
18   GTLM 67 australia  Ryan Briscoe 
new_zealand  Scott Dixon 
united_kingdom  Richard Westbrook 
Ford GT 189 13 laps       6  
19   GTLM 25 united_states  Bill Auberlen 
united_states  Connor de Phillippi 
united_kingdom  Alexander Sims 
BMW M8 GTE 189 13 laps       5  
20   GTD 96 united_states  Don Yount 
finland  Markus Palttala 
united_states  Dillon Machavern 
BMW M6 GT3 186 16 laps       7  
21   GTD 86 portugal  Alvaro Parente 
united_kingdom  Katherine Legge 
united_states  Trent Hindman 
Acura NSX GT3 186 16 laps       7  
22   GTD 48 united_states  Corey Lewis 
united_states  Bryan Sellers 
united_states  Madison Snow 
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 186 16 laps       6  
23   GTD 15 denmark  David Heinemeier Hansson
united_kingdom  Jack Hawksworth 
united_states  Sean Rayhall 
Lexus RC F GT3 186 16 laps       7  
24   GTD 33 netherlands  Jeroen Bleekemolen 
united_states  Ben Keating 
germany  Luca Stolz 
Mercedes-AMG GT3 186 16 laps       9  
25   GTD 73 germany  Jörg Bergmeister 
united_states  Tim Pappas 
united_states  Patrick Lindsey 
Porsche 911 GT3 R 186 16 laps       8  
26   GTD 63 united_states  Jeff Segal 
united_states  Cooper MacNeil 
united_states  Gunnar Jeannette 
Ferrari 488 GT3 186 16 laps       9  
27   GTD 75 australia  Kenny Habul 
germany  Thomas Jäger 
canada  Mikael Grenier 
Mercedes-AMG GT3 186 16 laps       7  
28   GTD 58 united_states  Patrick Long 
denmark  Christina Nielsen 
germany  Robert Renauer 
Porsche 911 GT3 R 186 16 laps       6  
29   GTD 64 united_states  Townsend Bell 
united_states  Frankie Montecalvo 
united_states  Bill Sweedler 
Ferrari 488 GT3 185 17 laps       7  
30   GTD 36 united_states  Marc Miller 
canada  Kuno Wittmer 
united_states  Till Bechtolsheimer 
Acura NSX GT3 185 17 laps       7  
31   GTD 44 united_states  Andy Lally 
united_states  Andrew Davis 
united_states  John Potter 
Audi R8 LMS GT3 184 18 laps       7  
32   GTD 29 belgium  Alessio Picariello 
germany  Christopher Mies 
south_africa  Sheldon Van Der Linde 
Audi R8 LMS GT3 177 25 laps       6  
33   GTD 51 austria  Mathias Lauda 
brazil  Daniel Serra 
united_states  Francesco Piovanetti 
brazil  Ozz Negri 
Ferrari 488 GT3 167 35 laps       10  
34   P 77 united_kingdom  Oliver Jarvis 
germany  René Rast 
united_states  Tristan Nunez 
Mazda DPi 166 36 laps       8  
35   GTLM 24 united_states  John Edwards 
finland  Jesse Krohn 
united_kingdom  Tom Blomqvist 
BMW M8 GTE 163 39 laps       7  
36   P 38 united_states  Joel Miller 
united_states  James French 
united_states  Kyle Masson 
ORECA LMP2 116 86 laps       4  
37   GTD 14 canada  Kyle Marcelli 
austria  Dominik Baumann 
switzerland  Philipp Frommenwiler 
Lexus RC F GT3 111 91 laps       7  
38   GTD 93 united_states  Justin Marks 
united_states  Lawson Aschenbach 
germany  Mario Farnbacher 
Acura NSX GT3 76 126 laps       4  
39   GTD 69 united_states  Ryan Eversley 
united_states  Tom Dyer 
united_states  Chad Gilsinger 
Acura NSX GT3 76 126 laps       4  
40   GTD 71 canada  Daniel Morad 
italy  Loris Spinelli 
colombia  JC Perez 
Mercedes-AMG GT3 45 157 laps       3  
41   P 2 united_states  Scott Sharp 
united_kingdom  Ryan Dalziel 
france  Olivier Pla 
Nissan DPi 32 170 laps       4  
42   P 22 brazil  Pipo Derani 
united_states  Johannes van Overbeek 
france  Nicolas Lapierre 
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About this article

Series IMSA
Event Watkins Glen
Location Watkins Glen International
Author David Malsher
Article type Race report