Meyer Shank stays fast in warmup
The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian Acura continued to set the pace in morning warmup for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, just as it has all weekend, with Oliver Jarvis setting the fast time at 1m32.337s, followed by Alex Lynn in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac and Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura.
Dylan Murry set a 1m34.524s to lead LMP2 in the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA, while Matthew Bell led LMP3 in the No. 7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqeine at 1m41.391s. Mario Farnbacher was the quickest GT driver with a 1m45.828s lap in the GTD-class No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX, while Daniel Serra was just behind, leading GTD PRO with a 1m46.225s lap in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488.
Blomqvist: “We need to keep on top of conditions”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers and teams haven’t had a lot of running during the conditions they’re going to face in today’s race; only qualifying has been run during the hottest part of the day, and the previous two days have been slightly cooler than it is expected to be today. Combined with the length of the race and the way things will change between 10:40 a.m. and 4:40 p.m., the teams are going to have to stay ahead of the changing circumstances.
“We just need to keep on top of conditions because these cars are so sensitive,” explains polesitter Tom Blomqvist. “This is such a high-speed circuit, so the conditions, the temperatures, the wind plays a huge part. You can really find a lot, or lose a lot of that time if you don’t get that right, so that’s something we got to keep on top of. It’s such a high-loading circuit, so tire wear is not a huge issue, but it’s something that we have to keep keep an eye on, more from a balance perspective, to not put ourselves too much outside the window.”
Track limits a concern?
Watkins Glen International has some areas of the track with a lot of paved runoff. That can be a good thing when it goes wrong, but there’s also the possibility that drivers will use that runoff to widen the track and carry more speed through the corners. So IMSA institutes track limits at the circuit.
The exits of Turns 1, 8 and 10 are significant areas where track limits are enforced. Four wheels beyond the curbs during practice meant the loss of the lap time. In Saturday morning’s practice, 43 lap times were deleted due to drivers exceeding track limits. But that’s not really a punishment during the race.
The actual penalties during the race are situational, series officials explained. It may just result in a warning, but a drive-through could be imposed as well. If a driver wants to gain an advantage by exceeding track limits, he had better be aware that the officials are watching.
Punctures not a cause for alarm
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams in Saturday’s Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120 suffered a lot of punctures and other tire issues in the race. Part of the reason was higher heat and track temperatures than had been experienced all weekend. The problem was especially prevalent in the smaller tires. Michelin engineers reported back that the issue had much to do with running lower pressures than recommended, and curb strikes.
The curbs are especially a concern when drivers exceed track limits, and come back over the curbs from the backside. Michelin says that with the larger tires used on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship cars, the punctures and cuts less of a concern, especially if curb strikes are avoided.
GTD trials and tribulations
The two cars involved in an incident during Saturday morning’s practice session both returned to the track for this morning’s warmup. The No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX set the fast GTD time in the warmup, courtesy of Mario Farnbacher on good tires. The car was smoking after the 20-minute session, but the team reports that it was merely a sensor boot that caught fire. Mechanics were going through the car after the warmup to make sure everything was buttoned up after the team finished putting the car back together at 10 p.m. last night.
The No. 99 Team Hardpoint Porsche 911 GT3 went out in the warmup as well, Katherine Legge putting times on the board well within the general pace.
The Michelin Endurance Cup-only No. 59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren of Paul Holton, Patrick Gallagher and Joel Miller has had a variety of issues over the weekend and limited practice, running only 27 laps prior to today. Issues have included a bad sensor that cost them track time on Friday, and a lack of grip yesterday. The team used the morning warmup to bed-in brakes for today’s race.