Series, round 5 in Watkins Glen, USA
On one of America’s most traditional circuits, the Grand-Am Series takes off into the second longest race of the season on Saturday. The ‘Six Hours of the Glen’ on the Watkins Glen International is the second classic of the season in this popular championship after the 24 Hours at Daytona, and promises interesting duels and gripping action in the fight for the championship lead.
In the Daytona Prototype class, three Porsche Rileys take up the race on the 5.47 kilometre circuit in the US state of New York. Spearheading the three is the number 12 prototype, entered by Penske Racing with pilots Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France). So far this season, the Porsche works drivers have notched up one pole position and a third place at the race in Millville. Recently in Laguna Seca they were well on the way to claim a podium result when a stop-and-go penalty shortly before the finish threw them down the field. Timo Bernhard had allegedly jumped the restart after a safety-car phase. Despite being handicapped further by the regulations with another reduction in engine revs, which had a negative impact on the performance of the Porsche Riley in Laguna Seca, the pair is making a renewed charge for a top placing at the six hour race in Watkins Glen.
‘Watkins Glen is the last long race of the season. It is favourable for us that quick pit stops are as important for success as fast lap times, because the Penske crew is always several seconds quicker than the competition,’ says Timo Bernhard, who recently won the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife again with Romain Dumas. Bernhard competed in Watkins Glen in 2005. ‘That will certainly be an advantage for us because it’s a very demanding circuit. It has many fast corners and is like a roller-coaster – basically everything that makes a race track difficult and interesting.’
With victory at the 24 Hours at Daytona, David Donohue (USA) and Darren Law (USA) in Brumos Racing’s Porsche Riley (Number 58) took off into the season. The two currently occupy second in the championship and are eager to reclaim the points’ lead in Watkins Glen which they lost in Laguna Seca. Manning the second Porsche Riley (Number 59) of the successful customer team from Florida are Joao Barbosa (Portugal) and JC France (USA). Team Spirit of Daytona Racing enters a Porsche Coyote with Guy Cosmo (USA) and Scott Russell (USA).
In the GT class, Porsche pilots lead the points’ standings. Spencer Pumpelly (USA) and Ted Ballou (USA) head the classification in one of four Porsche 911 GT3 run by the TRG team. With a gap of just one point, Dirk Werner (Germany) and Leh Keen (USA) occupy second position with one of three 911 GT3 fielded by Farnbacher Loles Racing. After Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) missed out the race in Laguna Seca due to other racing commitments in the American Le Mans Series, he returns in Watkins Glen to join forces with Eric Lux (USA) in a 911 GT3 of Farnbacher Loles Racing.
The race in Watkins Glen takes off on Saturday, 6 June, at 2.15pm local time (8.15pm CEST) and runs over six hours.