WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK — It’s safe to say Corvette Racing has hit its stride in the first year running the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
With expected teething issues a thing of the past, Corvette Racing has gone on a tear in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, a tear that continued Sunday with a third straight TUDOR Championship victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
Antonio Garcia held off the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R of Marc Goossens on a last-lap restart in the win, joining co-driver Jan Magnussen in victory lane for the third straight race in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
The two also led at the halfway mark to score maximum points en route to a Round 3 victory in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“I have to say, I am so pleased with how things have gone for the team this year, with the (No.) 3 car especially,” said Magnussen, who picked up his 40th win in North American professional sports car racing. “We’re developing a new car and we keep finding new things to do with it. I just saw that all the fastest race laps for all the GTLMs were all within three tenths (of a second). It is a very competitive category. You have to be on your best game for everything you do. There is no room for any mistakes.”
Limiting mistakes is one of the reasons Corvette Racing has been so strong over the summer months. In addition to the team’s success in North America in the TUDOR Championship, the team finished second in GTE Pro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago with Magnussen, Garcia and Jordan Taylor.
Goossens and co-driver Dominik Farnbacher finished second in the return of the red-and-white liveried Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R. The team’s No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer finished third to round out the podium.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner drove the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to a fourth-place finish, while Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet finished fifth in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
In a six-hour battle that came down to the wire, Richard Westbrook was in the right place at the right time.
Westbrook drove his No. 90 VISITFLORIDA.COM/GoPro Corvette DP past Alex Brundle in Turn 4 at Watkins Glen International after a late-race caution wiped out Brundle’s sizable lead.
He then led the final five laps for a 0.877-second victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The race was the third round in the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“Richard and my approach for the last couple of races was to keep the car safe and be in a position that would allow us to take a podium or possibly the win,” said Spirit of Daytona co-driver Michael Valiante. “It’s worked for us the last two races.”
The team was coming off a second-place finish in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers at the Belle Isle Street Circuit, its first podium of the season.
The win was the fourth for Daytona Beach-based Spirit of Daytona, and the first since Sept. 9, 2012 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. All three of the team’s previous wins came that season.
“It’s a massive relief for us to get a victory,” Westbrook said. “It’s been a bit of a dry spell for us, especially on the back of a successful 2012. We’ll take that win for sure.”
Despite taking a runner-up finish after leading late, Brundle and his No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan/Nissan co-drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung were able to take positives away from their first visit to the historic 3.4-mile track.
“It’s been a tremendous effort from my team and both teammates,” Brundle said. “We made a step forward in pace, understanding the car and understanding the tire. I think we can go away happy but we did kind of snatch defeat from the jaws of victory a little bit.”
Brundle had one last chance to track down Westbrook when Scott Pruett was spun by Renger van der Zande with 10 minutes remaining. Safety officials hurried to ready the race track, and Westbrook prevailed in a one-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Momentum is on the side of OAK Racing, however, having placed on the podium two consecutive races.
“I’m really proud of the team, the guys worked really hard on the car last night,” Yacaman said. “They stayed up until 1 a.m. making some updates to the car and getting it ready for the race.
“Every race we’ve started we’ve been consistent. We keep moving up the ladder on the podium. We really need that win, we’re looking for that win. We’ll keep working, working hard until we can get the win.”
Westbrook and Valiante earned eight points in the Patrón Endurance Cup, matching leaders Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi of Action Express Racing, who led at the race’s halfway point.
Wayne Taylor Racing teammates Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor finished fifth, but were able to maintain their TUDOR Championship Prototype lead in the standings.
GT Daytona class
Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala drove to a dominant victory in the GT Daytona class as the duo led all but nine laps in Turner Motorsport’s No. 94 BMW Z4 for their second GT Daytona class victory of the season.
Prototype Challenge class
CORE autosport drivers Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and James Gue displayed the resiliency needed to win a championship, overcoming an early mistake for their fourth Prototype Challenge class victory in five races.