2015 Tudor USCC: Six Hours of Watkins Glen race report
It’s fair to say, 2015 hasn’t been the kindest season so far to those running Porsche 911 RSRs. However, that all changed this weekend as Team Falken took victory in the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, round five of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship for the GTLM class competitors.
Saturday’s qualifying session had to be called off after heavy rain left rivers running across the famous circuit in upstate New York (leaving the grid to be set by each team’s championship standing).
Conditions for the six-hour race on Sunday were no less tumultuous however, with the event having to be red-flagged for three laps when the track was deluged in the second hour leading to a number of accidents.
Before that, Patrick Pilet in the no. 911 Porsche North America Racing 911 RSR had been the revelation of the GTLM class, setting a blistering pace on the opening lap to move from fifth to first.
The Frenchman, sharing with recent 24 Hours of Le Mans victor, Nick Tandy, was in imperious form on the wet-but-drying track (despite starting on slick tyres), building up a lead of nearly a minute during the first hour.
The no. 912 machine was no to be so fortunate in the race’s opening throes, Earl Bamber unable to avoid contact on lap one. The resultant trip to the pits to fix the front splitter lost the Kiwi racer a lap before the aforementioned red flag.
Once the race was back under way, fuel strategy began to come into play, especially in the latter stages. In the final hour, Wolf Henzler in the Team Falken machine moved into the lead after choosing not to stop for fuel when his competitors did during the final safety car period.
At the time, Pilet and Tandy were running second. However, the former was forced to pit in order to not go over the permitted maximum drive time, handing over to Tandy and dropping the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to fifth.
This left Bamber to take up PNAR’s charge after some sterling work by teammate Jörg Bergmeister in the middle of the Watkins Glen Six Hours. With the rain coming down once again, the Kiwi sliced through the field, challenging Henzler for the lead.
The Team Falken car – a perennial front-runner in wet conditions – was able to hold on though, crossing the chequered flag on fumes after the team’s decision to stay out nearly saw Henzler and co-driver, Bryan Sellers run the tank dry.
Bamber had to settle for second in the first of the factory 911 RSRs, with the one-two result allowing Porsche to close up to Corvette in the manufacturers’ standings, while Henzler and Sellers moved to joint third in the drivers’ championship.
Round six of the 2015 Tudor United SportsCar Championship will see the circus head to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly known as Mosport) on 10-12 July as PNAR continues to search for its first win of the year.
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