Heart of Racing takes double GTD victory at Watkins Glen

Heart of Racing takes double GTD victory at Watkins Glen

Outright speed and solid strategy appeared to rule the day in the GTD classes in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but in the end it was the drive time rules that decided the winners. And when they were decided, history was made in two aspects: First, the same team won both GTD PRO and GTD; and second, the winning GTD car finished ahead of the winning GTD PRO car.

It was Heart of Racing sweeping the GTD classes in their Aston Martin Vantages, Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas took the win in GTD PRO, and Roman De Angelis, Maxime Martin and Ian James were declared the winners in GTD.

“We’re super proud of the team,” said James, who is the team manager when’s he’s not handling driving duties in the endurance races. “When we started this team in in ’18, I never thought that we could have two cars winning on the same day. It’s really a testament to everybody that works on the team, the dedication, the hard work, the drivers and what they do. And Gray Newell who makes it happen for us.

“We kind of lucked into it at the end with drive times and fuel and stuff like that. But we decided to save fuel with two hours to go. So it wasn’t like there wasn’t a plan to get to the end. And even even without the red flag, we were looking pretty good amongst the other cars. To be up here, winning a race of this stature, and get to drive with guys like Maxime and Roman and having Alex and Ross in the other car, i’s just a very proud moment.”

Right pace, right time for Heart Of Racing’s Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas. Michael Levitt/Lumen

The No. 25 BMW Team RLL M4 GT3 of Connor De Phillippi, Augusto Farfus and John Edwards started on pole thanks to De Phillippi, and then went off strategy early to run in cleaner air. That especially appeared to pay off after the long stoppage for lightning strikes in the area, when cars in front of them had to take fuel to make the final few minutes of the race.

But although the minimum drive time was reduced from 1h30m to 1h17m because of the hour-plus-long red flag, the team fell afoul of the rule, and the erstwhile second-place No. 23 Heart of Racing car was promoted to first.

“We had a pretty crazy right crazy race today to be honest,” said Gunn. “We we had an awesome car all weekend. This track is pretty high grip and the sort of corners that Watkins Glen has really suits the suits our car. We got a little bit unlucky at the start with some of the the yellows that put us to the back of GTD PRO, so that wasn’t good — and also towards the back of the GTD class. All the cars are the same, so it’s very difficult to kind of re-establish ourselves in the race. It’s quite a crazy finish the way things ended. But you need to be there to capitalize on those things.”

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 of Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon, as well as the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R of Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet looked to be in contention for the win, but both had take splashes of fuel in the final minutes, and finished second and third in GTD PRO, respectively.

The No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG squad of Russell Ward, Philip Ellis and Marvin Dienst took the GTD victory on track, just behind the No. 25 BMW, but violated the same drive time rule, elevating the No. 27 to the win.

“It’s an amazing feeling especially to have the the 23 car also winning under some pretty crazy circumstances,” said De Angelis. “Having to finish and, and watch fuel and everything like that was pretty intense. We thought that we were gonna gonna be OK to push with one lap to go and then I got the fuel light, running out in the last corner. It was just a very stressful race, but I’m so happy to be a part of this team and all the success we’ve had.”

Brendan Iribe, Jordan Pepper and Ollie Millroy finished second in the No. 59 Inception Racing McLaren, followed by Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Michael Dinan in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4.