1-2 Finish for Acura at Watkins Glen; Double Win for Heart of Racing!

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.

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.

GTD PRO

A 60-minute stoppage for lightning three-quarters of the way through the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen threw calculations for minimum drive time and fuel strategy into disarray in Round 7 of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

That resulted in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas being awarded the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class victory after the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL (drivers: Connor De Phillippi, Augusto Farfus, and John Edwards) that crossed the line first was put to the back of the field because one of the drivers failed to meet the adjusted minimum drive time for each driver of 1-hour, 17-minutes during the six-hour endurance race.

A brief storm rolled through the Finger Lakes region of New York with around 90 minutes remaining, causing track and IMSA officials to red flag the race. At the time, Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3) held a slim lead over Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3). The No. 25 BMW lay fifth, but carried seven more laps of fuel than the Porsche and nine more than the Ferrari when the race was restarted with 35 minutes remaining on the clock.

Sure enough, Serra and Jaminet pulled into the pits for a brief splash-and-go stop with five minutes remaining, leaving Edwards to cruise to what he thought was a one-lap margin of victory over Gunn in the No. 23 Aston Martin. But not long after the checkered flag, IMSA officials announced that a timing audit revealed the No. 25 team’s infraction.

Thoroughly surprised, Gunn and Riberas found themselves spraying the champagne in Victory Lane after their second GTD PRO triumph of the season. They also won the sprint race at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach street course.

They completed 147 laps of the 11-corner, 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course, and were credited with the win over Serra and Rigon, with Campbell and Jaminet completing the revised podium.

It was the second time in the last 13 months that the Heart of Racing Team was awarded a WeatherTech Championship race win, post race. The team’s first win in IMSA competition came at Detroit in June 2021 in the GTD class when the winning Audi was put to the back of the field due to a refueling infraction.

The second-place finish allowed Jaminet and Campbell to extend their lead in the GTD PRO point standings.

GT Daytona (GTD)

There was no shortage of irony for the GTD class winners Sunday. After a season of frustration and near-misses, the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team hoisted its first trophy of 2022 on Sunday – declared the class victor about 20 minutes after taking the checkered flag in second place.

The Winward Racing Mercedes team – first across the finish line and also looking to take its first win of the season – was penalized for not meeting drive-time requirements with its drivers.

“We always know our car is strong here, this is a really good track for us,’’ said Heart of Racing driver Roman De Angelis who drove the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the final stint.  “I thought second would have been a good result for us and it was very close. As I came to the last corner and got out of the throttle, we ran out of gas, so we coasted across [the finish line]. We haven’t had a win in a while. We’ve had a pretty rough start to the year, so obviously, super happy to get that result.’’

It was only the second top five of the year for the Heart of Racing GTD team – improving on a runner-up showing in the previous race at Detroit. The team’s second car also won in the GTD PRO class giving the Heart of Racing organization its first double class victory.

It marked the 10th career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for James, second for Martin and fourth for De Angelis.

With the drive-time infraction by the Winward team, the No. 70 inception racing McLaren 720S GT3 team of Brendan Iribe, Ollie Millroy and Jordan Pepper were officially scored in second place. And the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 team moved onto the podium. For Turner drivers Robby Foley, Bill Auberlen and Michael Dinan, it marked their third podium finish this year and was best among the championship leaders heading into Watkins Glen.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors have little time to rest, because they will be back in action next weekend for the Chevrolet Grand Prix, July 1-3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.