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There’s a Lot to Like about Watkins Glen

Defending Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Winner Oliver Jarvis and 2011 Winner Ricky Taylor Enjoy the High-Commitment Aspect of the Track

By Jeff Olson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Oliver Jarvis really likes Watkins Glen International. Really likes it.

And with good reason. He won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2021, holds the current track record for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and is among the favorites to win the 2022 version of the race Sunday at WGI.

“Watkins is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the calendar,” Jarvis said. “It’s probably one of everybody’s favorite tracks. It’s just so enjoyable to drive. High speed, high commitment, plenty of grip. As a driver, you can really attack.”

He’s right about everybody’s favorite part. Ricky Taylor, who won the race in 2011, also holds the historic circuit in high esteem, even if the victories haven’t been there as often as he’d like.

“The Six Hours has always eluded us, despite the car being very strong and very fast there,” Taylor said. “It’s a hard race. It’s quite a grueling one for the drivers and cars.”

Jarvis won the race last year with Mazda Motorsports, which discontinued its DPi program at the end of the season. He landed with the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 and co-driver Tom Blomqvist. Together, they’re leading the standings in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class over Taylor and his co-driver, Filipe Albuquerque.

Jarvis knows how good his current car can be at Watkins Glen. He and Mazda co-drivers Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito finished just 0.965 seconds ahead of the No. 60 MSR Acura, then driven by Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla, in last year’s Six Hours.

“I know they’ve got a good package, which fills us with confidence going into the weekend,” Jarvis said. “… I think we’re in good shape for the weekend ahead, but as we know, IMSA is so competitive this year. I think we’re going to have our hands full.”

He’ll likely have his hands full with Taylor and Albuquerque, whose No. 10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Acura has won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course so far this season.

The six-hour format is unique in the WeatherTech Championship, which also features 10-, 12- and 24-hour races along with two-hour, 40-minute sprint races. As reliable as modern equipment is, a six-hour race is closer to a sprint race than the longer endurance races.

“Strategically it’s a bit of an odd distance,” Taylor said. “It’s not like a long endurance race where you just kind of settle in for the first bit and then preserve the car for the end. It’s essentially one of those that’s flat out the whole way through. Mentally and physically, it becomes quite grueling at the end.”

Just 10 points separate Jarvis and Blomqvist from Taylor and Albuquerque. The two Acuras are constantly in close proximity.

“Whatever we seem to do with our car, we just can’t seem to get rid of the (No.) 10,” Jarvis said. “… You can set the best lap of your life and still be just two-hundredths quicker than the (No.) 10, or two-hundredths slower. It’s great. We’re really going head-to-head, but it’s amazing how close the two cars have been throughout the year.”

WeatherTech Championship practice begins Friday, with qualifying the following afternoon. Peacock’s live, flag-to-flag coverage of the race begins at 10:35 a.m. ET Sunday. USA Network picks up the live TV coverage at 2 p.m.