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What to Watch for: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

Ring the Bell, Recess Is Over

By David Phillips

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Time’s up on what some might consider the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship’s “summer recess.” With the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) classes on vacation since the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (June 4), Le Mans Prototypes 2 and 3 (LMP2 and LMP3) competitors recharging since the Lexus Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (May 15) and GTD PRO drivers and teams cooling their heels since the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship Presented by Motul (May 1), most competitors will be tanned, rested and ready for this week’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. “Most” is the key word, as a trio of IMSA teams and nearly 20 full-time drivers spent the “recess” preparing for, competing in and recovering from the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans throughout the week of June 5-12.

For an elite few, the momentum accompanying strong or even victorious performances in La Ronde Infernale could be a springboard to still more success at Watkins Glen International’s iconic 3.4-mile road course and, indeed, the remainder of the ’22 WeatherTech Championship. Ben Keating, for one, comes to The Glen having wheeled an Aston Martin Vantage AMR to the GTE Am class win in France (along with co-drivers Henrique Chaves and Marco Sorensen). He’ll surely be looking to put the proverbial cherry on top of that win with a strong performance in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 this weekend.

Keating had some IMSA-style company on the victory podium at Le Mans in the form of Cooper MacNeil who, together with Thomas Merrill and Julien Andlauer, finished second in GTE Am in the WeatherTech Racing Porsche. MacNeil and the WeatherTech team will be looking to do that one better at Watkins Glen, albeit in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

As well, Richard Westbrook stood on the third step of the Le Mans podium after finishing third in the Hypercar class and will be hoping to do at least as well at The Glen in the No. 5 JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R.

A host of other IMSA competitors enjoyed strong outings at Le Mans but, needless to say, there’s only one winner and three podium finishers in any given class. Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn (with young Josh Pierson) can be proud of their sixth-place LMP2 finish for United Autosport at Le Mans. Thus, it will be no surprise should Jarvis (No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 DPi), Lynn (No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R) and/or Pierson (No. 11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2) feature prominently this weekend.

Meanwhile, at the tender age of 42, Jan Heylen teamed with Maxwell Root, Fred Poordad and Dempsey Proton Racing to finish fifth in GTE Am in his Le Mans debut, and will be looking to carry that form to The Glen where he will be reunited with Ryan Hardwick, Zacharie Robichon and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R in GTD. Similarly, Westbrook’s JDC Miller teammate Tristan Vautier finished P6 in an LMP2 entry in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Momentum swings both ways, of course, so Corvette Racing will be looking to rebound from the crushing disappointment that shadowed their return from France after one of their cars retired with a suspension failure and the other was hip-checked into the barriers by a wayward LMP2 during the 18th hour of a race they appeared to be fully capable of winning. So don’t be surprised if Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor make a strong statement in GTD PRO in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R GTD this weekend. Sure, this is the first Sahlen’s Six Hours for the new class, but Corvettes ran the table at Watkins Glen last year, capturing class wins in both the six-hour race and the WeatherTech 240 the ensuing weekend in the GTLM-spec C8.R.

With the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in the books, the Sahlen’s Six Hours represents the three-quarter mark of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. This weekend will set the table for the championship finale, the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 1. So, JDC Miller looks to enhance its Michelin Endurance Cup lead over Wayne Taylor Racing and Whelen Engineering Racing in DPi; ditto PR1 Mathiasen over Racing Team Nederland in LMP2 and Sean Creech Motorsport over Riley Motorsports in LMP3. Meanwhile, GTD PRO sees the welcome return of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 in its effort to overhaul Corvette Racing and Pfaff Motorsports. Finally, inception racing’s McLaren 720S GT3 and AF Corse’s Ferrari are tied atop the GTD endurance points chart, just ahead of the Wright Motorsports Porsche.

With 48 cars on hand for the commencement of activities on Friday, there will be no shortage of questions answered in the race. Be sure to get a jump on Monday’s “Takeaways” posted on IMSA.com by following all the action this weekend on IMSA Radio, IMSA.com/TVLive, Peacock and USA Network.