IMSA drivers soaking up Le Mans wins

While a large contingent of competitors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is, or soon will be, en route to Watkins Glen for the sixth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, a few may have tired arms. No, not related to that old joke that goes something like, “I just flew in from Poughkeepsie … and boy, are my arms tired!” Instead, several drivers were hoisting big winners’ trophies on the elevated and storied Le Mans podium.

Let’s start with overall winners Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen. The trio drove the No. 50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P Hypercar to overall victory in the world’s oldest 24-hour endurance race. All three will be racing at the Glen – Fuoco in the Cetilar Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 in GTD, Nielsen in the No. 88 AF Corse ORECA LMP2 machine, and Molina in the GTD-class AF Corse Ferrari 296. All will likely still be basking in the glow of victory after what turned out to be a very challenging race.

“In a couple of moments of the race we risked to stay on slicks, and also the last call to change to the wet was the right moment,” Molina said of the steps that led to victory. “And it’s unbelievable. We’ve been working for these results for so long. And we are really proud. We experienced some tense moments, but we could go through them and at the end the result was here. So I’m really proud of everyone that is involved in this project.”


In LMP2, two of the three drivers are on the Glen entry list (and the third raced in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona). Oliver Jarvis, Bijoy Garg and and Nolan Siegel teamed up to win in the No. 22 United Autosports ORECA. For Garg, currently in his rookie year in LMP2 with United in the WeatherTech Championship as well as doing some European Le Mans Series races with the team, it was a special moment that he hopes will carry forward for the rest of his season.

Garg is still a rookie in IMSA’s LMP2 class, but he and the rest of the No.22 United Autosports team are now Le Mans winners. JEP/Motorsport Images

“This is a day I’ll certainly remember the rest of my life,” said Garg. “It’s been a hell of a turnaround. We’ve had, to be honest, a very disappointing season in the ELMS; it hasn’t lived up to expectations – through misfortune and just many things that happen in racing. And IMSA has been up and down. We had that big crash in Daytona. So, to win this, I hope it gives the team that shot in the arm that we can do well, we’re a phenomenal team, and we know we can do this – let’s go win some more.”

Ben Barnicoat, teamed with a pair of previous Le Mans winners in François Perrodo (LMP2 Pro-Am) and Nico Varrone (winner last year with Corvette Racing in GTE-Am), can now claim his first Le Mans win after the trio took victory in the LMP2 Pro-Am class in an AF Corse ORECA.

“I feel amazing – my first Le Mans win in class,” he said. “These guys have obviously already done it once before, but for me it was my first time, so amazing to now have that on my CV. I’m sure everyone’s touched on how crazy the race was. And I think from all sides François did an amazing job and in all these things, kept it clean always gave the car back to me and Nico in a position to go and fight and that then put us in contention for the overall win.”

While an alternate strategy might have given them the LMP2 victory, protecting the Pro-Am win took priority. So now Barnicoat gets to jibe regular co-driver Jack Hawksworth – also in the race driving the Akkodis ASP Lexus RC F GT3 as a late substitution – as a Le Mans winner. But in short order it’s time to get back to the usual business in the WeatherTech Championship, along with the other Le Mans winners. Forgive them, though, if their demeanor show a little extra swagger and they don’t high five because they can’t lift their arms.

Story originally appeared on Racer