2016 WeatherTech USCC: Six Hours of Watkins Glen preview
It’s been two months since the WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship’s GTLM field have been in action. However, that will all change this weekend with round five of the 2016 season, the Six Hours of Watkins Glen.
Last time out at Laguna Seca Raceway in California, the no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of the works Porsche North America Racing squad scored its third podium of the year, Frédéric Makowiecki and Earl Bamber finishing third and cementing their current second place in the points standings.
The result helped the duo close in on the championship-leading no. 4 Chevrolet Corvette in both the drivers’ and teams’ title battle (although victory for the no. 67 Ford GT at Laguna Seca means that the no. 912 crew’s advantage to third has now been cut to just three points).
With Watkins Glen the third of the four ‘North American Endurance Cup’ races of 2016, Bamber and Makowiecki will once again be joined in the no. 912 RSR by Jörg Bergmeister, the trio fresh from racing together at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Having finished third in three of the four races so far this year, Makowiecki “it’s time for the first victory [of 2016]” for the crew. Although Le Mans was a disappointment for the factory 911s, the Frenchman may well get his wish, Watkins Glen providing a happy hunting ground for PNAR last season.
Run in atrociously wet conditions, Porsche 911 RSRs dominated the 2015 Six Hours of Watkins Glen at the upstate New York circuit, with the race eventually won by the Team Falken entry, just ahead of the no. 912 machine.
The sister no. 911 entry of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy will also be hoping for another strong showing at “The Glen” as the Anglo-French duo look to take their second win of the year and mount a comeback after a tough start to 2016.
Laguna Seca saw the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR come home in eighth (just one race after snatching the GTLM victory at Long Beach) and both Pilet and Tandy will be hoping for better luck in the third NAEC race of the year, after mechanical issues and a crash stymied their efforts at Daytona and Sebring respectively.
Joining them once again for the endurance event will be new-for-2016 factory driver, Kévin Estre, the young French ace still looking for his first triumph in the 911 RSR.
While the USCC GTLM circus may have been on a break since April, the schedule for Porsche’s factory team has still been congested thanks to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite this, PNAR was still able to fit in a test at Watkins Glen prior to this weekend’s event, something GT project leader, Marco Ujhasi felt was imperative.
“Given that the Watkins Glen racetrack now has a new surface it was important that we went testing there prior to the race,” he explained. “Thanks to Patrick and Earl we were able to collect a raft of useful data and experiences, which we will use in the setting up of our 911 RSR for this demanding circuit.”
USCC track action at the 3.4-mile New York circuit (former host of the US Grand Prix) begins on Friday before GTLM qualifying takes place at 4:05pm EDT on Saturday. The six-hour race gets under way at 10:10pm on Sunday morning.
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