June 25, 2023
By John Oreovicz, Mark Robinson and David Phillips
IMSA Wire Service
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – The No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday after the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 was assessed a penalty in postrace technical inspection.
Driving the No. 6 Porsche, Mathieu Jaminet made a daring pass of Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW for the lead while both cars battled through lapped traffic with just five minutes remaining in the historic six-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Watkins Glen International. That’s the way the cars finished as a full-course caution came out a lap later and the race finished under yellow.
However, in postrace inspection, the No. 6 Porsche was found with a skid block measuring less than the permitted minimum thickness and was moved to the rear of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) finishing order, elevating the No. 25 BMW to victory.
It is the first win for the German manufacturer in the modern GTP era, meaning all four marques participating in the hybrid-electrified class in this debut season have now won in the first five races. The victory is the sixth of De Phillippi’s WeatherTech Championship career. Co-driver Nick Yelloly picked up his maiden series win.
Finishing second in the revised podium are the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R in second place with drivers Pipo Derani, Alexander Sims and Jack Aitken. Filling out the revised podium were Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun and the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06 in third place.
Nine GTP cars were among the record-tying field of 57 entries for the race, the fifth of the 2023 WeatherTech Championship season, but several GTPs encountered issues during the race.
The No. 24 BMW crashed into the Turn 1 barrier on the opening lap and was eliminated. The No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac sustained damage an hour into the race after spinning while trying to avoid a slower GT Daytona (GTD) car. The No. 7 Porsche 963 led 35 laps early before heading to the garage for repairs to its hybrid power system. And the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 fell from contention when it lost a wheel assembly on track and had to slowly make its way to pit lane for a replacement.
The next round of the WeatherTech Championship is the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, July 14-16.
Kurtz Follows up Le Mans Win with Watkins Glen Victory in LMP2
It’s been quite a month for George Kurtz. Two weeks after winning the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) Pro-Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Kurtz joined with Ben Hanley and Nolan Siegel to capture Sunday’s LMP2 portion of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
The trio led 109 of the 196 LMP2 laps completed in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by APR ORECA LMP2 07, including the final 24 circuits. Hanley finished in the car, cycling to the lead during the final round of pit stops with just under 40 minutes to go. The Brit built a lead of more than seven seconds and was never threatened, taking the checkered flag ahead of the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA under caution.
“When you look at the level of competition in P2, this is a stout field,” Kurtz said. “To be able to come away with a win here is incredibly gratifying and it shows the teamwork that we have. It’s been a great month and I want to keep the momentum going.”
Starting fourth in class, the No. 04 drivers settled in and bided their time. It wasn’t until about two hours in that the Crowdstrike car struck to the front, leading for three full fuel runs until Christian Rasmussen and Ryan Dalziel pushed the No. 18 ahead with less than two hours remaining.
It stayed that way until the final round of stops. Hanley stopped first in the No. 04. Dalziel came in two laps later, handing the No. 18 back to Rasmussen. But by that time, Hanley had built an insurmountable advantage.
“You’ve got to be careful out there when you get into the lead position,” Hanley explained of the early strategy. “It’s no good just burning fuel and trying to take off into the distance because it only takes a yellow and that wipes out the advantage. You’re better off using your head, play it safe, save a bit of fuel and just keep it in your back pocket for when it does happen.
“We stopped as early as we could to make the last stint a proper full stint,” added Hanley, who picked up his third career WeatherTech Championship victory. “We wanted to be in the best position possible in case a yellow did come out so we always had track position.”
The win was the second in the WeatherTech Championship for Kurtz and the first for the 18-year-old phenom Siegel. It also elevated the No. 04 Crowdstrike into the LMP2 championship lead. Unofficially, Kurtz and Hanley are seven points ahead of Mikkel Jensen, Steven Thomas and the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA and 10 up on Ben Keating, Paul-Loup Chatin and the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA.
The No. 04 also leads in IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup competition, two points ahead of the No. 52. The LMP2 class returns at the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America, Aug. 4-6.
No. 74 Riley Completes Perfect Sweep of LMP3 Races at The Glen
A back-and-forth battle for Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) honors was resolved in favor of the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 piloted by Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon, but not before the No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier of Dylan Murry, Garett Grist and Dakota Dickerson spent its share of the day at the front of the field.
Indeed, it wasn’t until Fraga executed a bold move on Grist heading into the Inner Loop with 50 minutes remaining that the final order was established. Not that the contest for first place was resolved then and there, as the Ligiers ran side-by-side through the Inner Loop and into the Loop itself before Fraga emerged in first place.
“A couple of laps before there, I left space for him and he didn’t leave space for me, so I ran over the curb,” said Fraga. “The team let me know we had so much race left that I let him go because I thought it was safer. I was driving like crazy for two laps and again at the (Inner Loop) we could pass him. We had a very good car but it was very hard to follow today. With the aero, we had so much understeer when we were close. So I’m very happy. I think with Josh and Gar we did a very good job.”
Fraga built a comfortable gap on Grist of some eight seconds before taking the checkered flag under the race-ending full-course yellow, with the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 of Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd and Nico Varrone in third place.
Not only was this the second LMP3 win in as many points-paying WeatherTech Championship starts for the Robinson, Fraga and the No. 74 Riley this season, it was their third straight Sahlen’s Six Hour win and fourth consecutive victory at Watkins Glen. With LMP3 not returning as a class next season, the No. 74 leaves the track with a perfect record.
“I wouldn’t use the term ‘magic,’” Robinson said. “… We all understand the job that we’re asked to do and required to do in order to achieve the results we want to achieve. I think that definitely comes from Bill Riley. He sets the example for all of us, and we all know what we need to do.”
The win lengthened the LMP3 season points lead for the Riley team to an unofficial 124 points over the No. 17 AWA Duqueine and to three points over the No. 17 in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup standings. The LMP3 class is back in action in two weeks at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the Chevrolet Grand Prix.
For more details about Watkins Glen International, including schedules and ticketing information for the upcoming Go Bowling at The Glen NASCAR race weekend (August 16-20), call 1-866-461-RACE or visit TheGlen.com.
About Watkins Glen International
Located within five hours and 300 miles of 25 percent of the U.S. population, Watkins Glen International is the premier road racing facility in North America, four-times voted “Best NASCAR Track” by readers of USA Today. Keep up with The Glen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For tickets, camping, and additional information, call 1-866-461-RACE or visit www.TheGlen.com and get all of the latest information by downloading the NASCAR tracks app at www.theglen.com/nascar-tracks-app.
2023 Watkins Glen International Schedule
June 2-4 – SCCA Majors Super Tour
June 8-11 – Historic Sportscar Racing
June 15 – Chemung Canal Trust Summer Concert Series
June 22-25 – IMSA Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
July 6-9 – Cayuga Health Finger Lakes Wine Festival
July 11 – Chemung Canal Trust Summer Concert Series
August 4 – Chemung Canal Trust Summer Concert Series
August 9 – Chemung Canal Trust Summer Concert Series
August 16-20 – NASCAR Go Bowling at The Glen
September 7-10 – Hilliard U.S. Vintage Grand Prix
2023 Watkins Glen International NASCAR Weekend Schedule
August 18 – General Tire 100 at The Glen – ARCA Menards Series Race
August 19 – Shriners Children’s 200 at The Glen – NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
August 20 – Go Bowling at The Glen – NASCAR Cup Series Race