Acura Finishes 1-2 at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen; Repeat Winners in Both LMP2 and LMP3
By Jeff Olson
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With a bold move, little fuel and a broken car, Filipe Albuquerque turned a weather delay into victory.
He took the lead with a daring pass late in the race, then swerved through traffic with a damaged car while saving fuel to win the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday at Watkins Glen International.
“It was really crazy,” Albuquerque said. “When you believe in it, you just keep your foot down.”
After a lengthy red flag for severe weather, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race restarted with 21 minutes on the clock and Albuquerque second behind Tom Blomqvist, who had teamed with Oliver Jarvis in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 to lead most of the endurance race.
After the restart, Albuquerque in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura chased Blomqvist through the first four turns before pulling alongside heading into the inner loop. The two cars made contact, Albuquerque pulled ahead, and then somehow managed to hold off Blomqvist’s tenacious challenge to the finish.
The drama didn’t end there. Shortly after he passed Blomqvist, Albuquerque made contact with a Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) car, knocking the left mirror askew on the No. 10 car. In spite of that and the low fuel, he made it work.
“The mirror was gone, the car was bent,” Albuquerque said. “I just put full throttle to try to get it to the (inner loop). I was like, ‘This is going to be funny now.’ The car was going sideways. It was really weird. And then (strategist) Brian (Pillar) was saying, ‘You need to save fuel.’ I had bigger problems than this. I didn’t know if I could finish the race.”
The last-minute victory had a dramatic effect on the standings in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. Albuquerque and co-driver Ricky Taylor came into the race trailing Blomqvist and Jarvis by 13 points.
With the victory, Albuquerque and Taylor regained the championship lead, taking a 17-point advantage into next Sunday’s Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
“It’s not a lot at all,” Taylor said. “You could make up that difference with qualifying alone. It’s very tight. The nice thing that we’re going to take out of it is that we continue to build a gap to Cadillac. At the end of the day, we really want to bring a championship for Acura.”
Two Cadillac Racing entries finished close behind the two Acuras – Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 he co-drove with Renger van der Zande, and Alex Lynn in the No. 02 he shared with Earl Bamber. The No. 02 dropped to 160 points behind the No. 10 in the standings, with the No. 01 185 points out of the lead.
Sunday’s race was also the third of four in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. Blomqvist, Jarvis and the No. 60 Acura hold a one-point lead over Albuquerque, Taylor and the No. 10 Acura in that contest.
After next week’s race, just two races remain for the DPi class – the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America on Aug. 7 and the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 1.
Surprise! Huffaker Closes for No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen in LMP2 Win at Watkins Glen
By Mark Robinson
He wasn’t supposed to be in the car at the end, but Scott Huffaker made the most of the opportunity to win Sunday’s Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) portion of the race – barely. The talented 21-year-old Californian held off a charging Louis Deletraz win by a tenth of a second.
Mikkel Jensen normally finishes in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 when he, Huffaker and Ben Keating are paired. Huffaker was driving when the race was stopped by the weather delay and the team opted to keep him in the car for the conclusion rather than take time to pit and change drivers.
Huffaker saw Deletraz closing in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA as the clock ticked toward zero. Deletraz was close enough to make a lunging maneuver coming off the final turn toward the checkered flag, but Huffaker held him off by 0.107 seconds.
“The plan was obviously to have Mikkel finish, but we have 30 minutes left in the race, we have the fuel to do it. It makes no sense to do the pit stop,” Huffaker said. “I catch traffic on the last lap and (Deletraz is) all over and I’m like, ‘Oh, no!’ But I knew as long as I make no mistakes, he won’t be able to get by. I was a bit nervous but it ended up being fine.”
“Today, Scott did the job,” Jensen commended, “because the red flag decided we had to do it like this. I’m very happy that he gets recognized for this because normally his work is a bit hidden in the effort. He showed he was the right man for finishing the race.”
It gave the No. 52 trio – who are competing only in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events this year – their second straight win on the heels of their March victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. It also continued Keating’s string of good fortune. The Texan was part of the winning GTE Am team two weeks ago at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve all of these blessings I’m getting,” he said, “but I’m just gonna ride the wave while I can. Today’s finish doesn’t have anything to do with me other than keeping the car relatively clean when I was in the car.”
The No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen ORECA, using two driver lineups to compete in the full season, leads the team standings by 73 points over the No. 8 Tower ORECA after four points-paying races. Huffaker, Keating, Jensen and the No. 52 also head up the Michelin Endurance Cup standings after three of four rounds.
No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier Repeats Sahlen’s Six Hours LMP3 Victory
There’s something about Watkins Glen that suits Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320. Returning this weekend after winning a pair of Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) races at the track in 2021, they rolled into victory lane again Sunday.
Robinson, Fraga and third driver Kay van Berlo won by a full lap over the No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier. After Robinson negotiated the caution-heavy start of the race, van Berlo and Fraga pulled away.
“I didn’t do much today, honestly, because we had the red flag,” said Fraga, the closing driver who picked up his sixth career win, all in the No. 74 since last year. “Gar started and (brought) the car back in one piece, then Kay did all the job and I went in at P1. At the end, I was just taking off from the GT cars and then just cruising to win the race. Thanks to these guys that made my life easier today.”
Robinson celebrated his seventh win – again all in the No. 74 Riley LMP3 – as he tries to repeat as the class season and Michelin Endurance Cup champion. Van Berlo, who joined with Robinson, Fraga and Michael Cooper to win the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, capped a perfect weekend that also saw the 21-year-old Dutchman win both Porsche Carrera Cup North America races at The Glen.
“I shouldn’t get used to this, I guess,” van Berlo said. “Otherwise, all the other weekends are really disappointing. I’m super happy. It reminds me how privileged I am to be driving for two really successful teams.”