Tudor Sports Cars To Visit The Glen For The First Time
The Tudor United SportsCar Championship Series returns to racing this weekend with the annual 6-hour endurance race at wonderful old Watkins Glen International. The event not only marks the half way point of the season, it also is the third race of the four-race Patron North American Endurance Cup.
The event will feature all four Tudor classes of cars on the track at the same time, and the first race back for a bunch of drivers who competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For many of the drivers who competed in the American Le Mans Series in recent years, Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen will be the first to the historic road circuit in the scenic Finger Lakes Region of New York.
The following are some notes about the event:
– Because of the length of the Sahlen’s, and because of equipment changes from the past, most of the Prototype teams are adding third drivers to their lineups this weekend.
To date, nine of the 13 Prototype teams have added third drivers.
Recent private testing at the circuit saw the big cars entering the Inner Loop (chicane) at 15 mph faster than in the past, with increased aerodynamic downforce producing added G-forces that can take a toll at even the fittest drivers.
Following the test, Wayne Taylor Racing added five-time Watkins Glen winner Max Angelelli to its lineup, joining Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP.
“The Axe” said he was glad to be back to the team – which is currently the class points leader – at the Glen.
“I’m very happy to be able to drive again and I’m looking forward to this new experience,” Angelelli said. “But now that I’m not a full-time driver, I have to ask permission to do things, like anything relating to changes in the race car. We tested at Watkins Glen a few weeks ago and I could feel the difference when you don’t drive every weekend. This is what and where I’ll be focusing on this weekend – looking at where I am on the track, not getting involved in a battle that is not mine, try to just bring the car home and do whatever my role calls for. I just want to deliver a top assignment.
“It’s not mentally challenging to drive just part-time. It’s really about just coordinating body movements – when to brake, when to turn, how to handle the car. These things require some time and they don’t just happen all of a sudden. It was definitely good to have had the opportunity to test with all the new changes to the racecar.”
Other teams adding third drivers include: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, a four-time winner of the Six Hours, added Sage Karam to the lineup of the No. 01 Telcel Ford EcoBoost/Riley, joining Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas; Action Express Racing and Joao Barbosa are seeking their third consecutive victory at The Glen. Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi return in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP, joined by Burt Frisselle. The team’s No. 9 Corvette DP, racing in the Patrón Endurance Cup events, will have brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle joined by 2007 Six Hours winner Jon Fogarty; Marsh Racing also will go with three drivers, with Guy Cosmo joining regulars Eric Curran and Boris Said in the No. 31 Corvette DP.
The lone DPs going with two-drivers are Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian with Ozz Negri and John Pew in the No. 60 Dunn Tire Ford EcoBoost/Riley, and Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP.
– Prototype Challenge teams are also adding drivers for the weekend.
8Star Motorsports will return Sean Rayhall to the cockpit of the orange-liveried No. 25 car for this weekend’s event but the team has added Briton Tom Kimber-Smith and New Yorker Eric Lux, who return to the 8Star fold for the first time since the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
The Sahlens being Lux’s home race, there’s a heightened desire to perform and, following a super-productive, high-intensity test at ‘The Glen’ four weeks ago, the Williamsville-based racer is very optimistic about 8Star’s chances.
“I completed over 250 miles during a single day of testing at ‘The Glen’ and it went very well,” said Lux. “The team and its engineers learnt a decent amount in varying conditions, all of which was very useful for me. While it’s my home track, I haven’t been to Watkins Glen since 2009 and the test proved to be a re-familiarization with the circuit and a car that I haven’t raced since Sebring.
“As a result, I think the goal is to go for the win this weekend. The circuit is going to be an equalizer and with such a strong driver line-up and crew, we go into the race at a good level. The most valuable part of testing is getting so many clean miles because, with the format of the new Tudor Championship, running is limited and the sessions are often littered with red flags. Seat time is drastically down compared to everything I’ve experienced before.”
David Ostella has been going solo for Performance Tech Motorsports in PC but it can’t at The Glen.
So, Mike Hedlund co-drive the No. 38 this weekend.
Hedlund, 36, from Woodside, California, is a veteran sports car driver, with experience in Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes and GT cars, American Le Mans Series GT cars, Pirelli World Challenge and Porsche Supercup. He tested the Performance Tech PC car during the 2013 Circuit of the Americas weekend, impressing Team Principal Brent O’Neill.
“He did a great job at COTA,” O’Neill said. “He’s a solid guy who drives a clean race. He’s driven in Ferrari, GRAND-AM and has done some Porsche GTD. He’s got a lot of experience and is just a good guy. We circled back around with him this season and were able to put something together. It’ll be great to have him, and I think he’ll get along well with David.”
– Halfway through the season, balance of performance issues continue to dog the P class.
Daytona Prototypes started the season as tops in class, but BOP changes have served to enhance the P2 cars.
Jordan Taylor of Wayne Taylor Racing, a DP driver, said BOP continues to be a “work in progress”.
“Rules are being changed every race, almost, to try and balance the cars out,” he said. “But if you look at the season so far, the races have been really good, actually. I was one of the first guys who said it was going to be really difficult to balance an LMP2 car with a Daytona Prototype but they really have done a good job with two very different cars that find their speed in different areas. It was going to be tough to balance it, but if you watched the races at Belle Isle and Laguna Seca and the other places we’ve run this year, the races have been really good, and I think Watkins Glen is going to be another one.”
– Thanks to the merger of the top two sports car series in North America, Corvette Racing will get its first look at The Glen this weekend.
The team will field the No. 4 C7.R, which will be driven by Tommy Milner, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia in GTLM.
“It has been a long time coming but I am personally thrilled to see Corvette Racing finally compete at Watkins Glen,” said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. “It is an iconic track with such a rich global history, and everyone on the team is excited by the opportunity to see and hear our Corvette C7.Rs make their Glen debuts.”
The team, which competed at Le Mans two weeks ago, also has drivers happy to finally drive The Glen.
“If you’re going to put together a calendar for sports car racing in the U.S., you have to have Watkins Glen,” Milner said. “It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for awhile. I haven’t won there but definitely want to add it to my résumé. I feel pretty confident going there. We have some experience with the car in a low-downforce trim, so if we need to go in that direction we have some knowledge to build from. And we typically run max downforce in the U.S. So no matter what, we should have a good car there. For some of our competitors, a six-hour race will feel a little long. But for us having just come back from Le Mans and doing 24 hours, it will feel like a breeze.”
Noteworthy in the Tudor: Marco Bonanomi will make his Tudor Championship debut when the Audi factory driver joins Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports Audi R8… Jeroen Bleekemolen and Cooper MacNeil made headlines as the only two-driver entry at Le Mans, where they finished fifth in GTE Pro. MacNeil will drive the No. 22 Alex Job Racing WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America at the Glen, while Bleekemolen will drive the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R. … Joe Foster rejoins Dempsey Racing, co-driving with Patrick Dempsey and Andrew Davis in the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America. They will be coached by Hurley Haywood, The Glen’s all-time leading pro winner with nine victories. Foster, Dempsey and GTLM driver Patrick Long finished fifth in their class at Le Mans. … Krohn Racing is a two-time winner of the Sahlen’s Six Hours. Winning overall in a DP in 2005, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson will race the No. 57 Ferrari F458 Italia in the GTLM class. It’s the same car they recently drove to a 10th-place finish in the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans.
– The Continental Tire Challenge Series is also racing at The Glen.
In that series, Trent Hindman holds sole possession of the GS points lead. With co-driver John Edwards failing to drive the minimum 45 minutes in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 at Kansas, Hindman leads Kansas winner Kris Wilson by five points, 142-137. Max Riddle is expected to return to join Wilson in the No. 07 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage, although Kansas winner James Davison is expected to be on hand if needed. Tyler Cooke and Greg Liefooghe lead the ST standings by four points over Eric Foss, 127-123. Local drivers include Corning native Rob Ecklin Jr. in the No. 99 Invisible Glass Aston Martin BMW M3, and Sam Schultz of Horseheads in the No. 40 Berg Racing Porsche Boxster. Schultz will co-drive with Dinah Weisberg, whose husband and team owner John Weisberg is co-driving the team’s No. 50 Boxster with Cody Ellsworth. Berg Racing is based in Webster, N.Y., in the Rochester suburbs.No Comment