TUDOR USCC: Watkins Glen 6 Hours GTLM race report
Porsche North America Racing once again brought its pair of factory 911 RSRs home inside the top ten, securing a solid haul of points in its battle for the 2014 Tudor USCC crown, after a challenging six hours of competition at Watkins Glen.
Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz, and Patrick Pilet brought the no. 911 Porsche 911 RSR home in fifth, while Patrick Long, Michael Christensen, and Pilet finished eighth in the no. 912 car as Porsche were the first non-American manufacturer across the finish line in the hotly-contested GTLM class.
Victory was once again secured by the no. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, enjoying a favourable ‘Balance of Performance’ adjustment during a debut season of competition that has so far seen it take three consecutive victories in the stateside endurance championship.
By contrast, the 2014-specification Porsche 911 RSRs have struggled for ultimate pace after season-opening victories at Daytona, Sebring, and the FIA WEC Silverstone race, have led to series organisers mandating a raft of changes aimed at closing up the five-manufacturer field.
In qualifying for the Watkins Glen Six Hours, Lietz could only manage tenth place as the no. 911 crew chose the wrong path to take with regards to car setup. The no. 912 Porsche fared better in the hands of Christensen who would line up fourth.
As the race got underway though, Tandy was quick to make up ground with a stunning display of overtaking prowess moving the Total 911 columnist up to sixth by the end of the first lap, ahead of Long in the other works 911.
Tandy would continue his charge during the opening stint of the race, moving up to fourth in GTLM before a battle with one of the BMW Z4s saw the Briton briefly take third, as Long tracked his teammates progress, eventually slotting into fifth position as the first round of pitstops approached.
Both drivers would swap out in the pits, with Lietz emerging in third and Pilet not far behind in fifth. However, a full course caution just before the two-hour mark would scupper the two Porsches’ chances of a podium.
Although briefly inheriting first and third respectively as the no. 3 Corvette pitted, the no. 911 and no. 912 machines were forced to pit once the field had closed up, dropping Tandy and Christensen to fifth and seventh.
From there the race became more difficult for Weissach’s finest as the leading trio escaped, leaving the two Porsches to battle it out for fourth, fifth, and sixth. Unfortunately more bad luck was to come with both cars suffering punctures within half and hour of one another.
This dropped the no. 911 and no. 912 Porsche 911 RSRs to seventh and eighth respectively however, another full course caution bunched the field up, giving Tandy and Christensen hope of snatching a slightly better finishing position.
While Christensen was unable to move up, finishing eighth, Tandy seized his opportunity as the two cars ahead of him tangled, allowing the no. 911 entry to sweep through into a fifth place that, with the championship-leading BMW Z4 struggling to 12th, keeps them in the championship hunt.