Florida Corvette Wins Under Yellow at Watkins Glen


The #90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante won a rain-affected Sahlen’s 6 Hours of The Glen that finished under caution.

A late pit-stop for the fuel-starved #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford-Riley released Westbrook who held on for his and Valiante’s second win of the season.

The late-race caution was caused by an incident involving the #007 GTD Aston Martin of Kuno Wittmer on the front straight at New York’s Watkins Glen circuit.

Westbrook crossed the line ahead of the #01 Ford of Joey Hand, who managed to emerge from his final pit-stop ahead of the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette driven by Joao Barbosa.

The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette had been in contention for the win until Jordan Taylor spun out from the lead of the race with 50 minutes to go. Despite the efforts of the team to salvage the car, the front end damage sustained from the guardrail impact forced the Detroit winner to retire in the closing stages.

Only three Prototype class cars finished on the lead lap, with the best-placed Prototype Challenge entry of Starworks Motorsport ending the race fourth overall. Renger van der Zande commanded the final hours of the race, holding off Tom Kimber-Smith in the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA and the #16 BAR1 machine of Martin Plowman.

The class was at first dominated by IndyCar driver Conor Daly in the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports machine, who made full use of the drying track to forge a 40 second class lead after just five laps. However, the American driver’s work was undone later in the race as the car suffered damage in an incident with the #31 Action Express Racing DP.

The late caution also shaped the result of the race in GTLM, as Wolf Henzler was able to preserve enough fuel to take an unlikely class victory in the #17 Falken Tire Porsche. Henzler finished just ahead of Le Mans winner Earl Bamber in the #912 works Porsche, which had recovered from an earlier incident, and the #25 BMW Z4 of Bill Auberlen.

2015 TUDOR United Sportscar Championship Watkins Glen
The Falken Tire Porsche took a surprise GTLM victory (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

GTD honours went to Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence and Marc Goosens in the #93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper, which came out best after a fierce class battle during the middle portion of the race. Andy Lally brought the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche home in second, while pole-sitter Christopher Haase rounded out the top three in the Paul Miller Racing Audi.

The first half of the race was peppered with caution periods for separate incidents. One involved the then second-placed #31 Action Express Corvette of Dane Cameron and PC driver Jerome Mee at Turn Six, while another similar incident at the same location caused damage to the #60 Michael Shank Ligier (Oswaldo Negri Jr) and the #11 RSR Racing ORECA (Bruno Junqueira).

As the race progressed, the rain that had disrupted Saturday’s qualifying session returned and continued to worsen visibility around the 3.4 mile circuit. As the cars struggled for grip on wet tyres (except Wittmer in the Aston who opted to tackle the poor conditions on slicks) the race directors called a halt to proceedings with a 20 minute red flag period.

However, when the race did get back underway there was contact between Bamber and Oliver Gavin (#4 Corvette C7.R) at Turn One, which sent the field back under caution again. Despite numerous attempts to keep the race running under green flag conditions, Wittmer’s heavy shunt caused too lengthy a delay, ensuring a safety car intervention until the end.

Westbrook and Valiante’s win puts them five points ahead of Barbosa and Fittipaldi in the drivers’ championship, with the Ganassi pairing of Hand and Scott Pruett moving up to third in the standings ahead of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.

Full race results to follow.