Restarts and luck key to Porsche, AF Corse wins at Watkins Glen

As the clock started on the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, the sixth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, polesitter Louis Deletraz quickly found his No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 GTP car swamped by competitors and as he slid backwards in the field. Five-and-three-quarter hours later, as he led the field to the green on the final restart, it happened again as Felipe Nasr pushed his No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 past in Turn 1.

Nasr then held off Renger van der Zande and the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R to take the second win of the season for he and Dane Cameron after the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the third win of the season for Porsche Penske Motorsport. Nasr and Cameron became the first repeat GTP winners in 2024 and padded their championship lead.

“I knew I was going to have one chance, and that one chance came right at the restart,” explained Nasr. “All I did was work my tires and brakes as hard as I could just to get temperature in everything and as soon as we got the get-go in the last corner I could see the car ahead of me struggle and I said, ‘Man, I’m going for it,’ and made the move stick. Then it was all about managing the traffic ahead.”



In between that first start and the final restart were four hours of survival and a red flag for a track with an inch of water on it. The race had an almost full reset with 16 minutes of all-out sprint racing to end it.

Weather was expected to play a part, and it did, often throwing a wrench into strategy and reversing the course of several team’s fortunes. The first shower came at almost exactly halfway. At that point, Nick Tandy was demonstrating the speed of the PPM 963s by pushing the No. 6 to a 15s lead.

The No. 7 was slightly off sequence and stayed out while the rest of the field pitted during a full-course caution that came out with 3h51m remaining. When the rain started, most cars pitted for rain tires, but Cameron hadn’t brought the No. 7 in when a full-course caution came out for a crash that ended up blocking pit-in. Running low on energy, it looked like Cameron was out of luck, but as the field circulated under yellow, the rain stopped and the track began to dry. When Cameron was finally able to pit the No. 7 for fuel, the team kept the slicks on the car.

“In the moment, honestly, it felt like we were a bit unlucky and we thought we had kind of got it wrong,” said Cameron. “It seemed okay — little bits of rain — and then suddenly a big downpour came on the front. I thought we were a bit in the s***, and I thought we missed it. Then it went yellow and suddenly it’s like, ‘Well, it’s going to be dry. We’re going to be fine here.’”

At the restart, Cameron had the car in the lead after a lap, and then all the others pitted for slicks as well. The PPM Porsche luck seemed to run out later when the second rainstorm began with 1h46m left. All the GTP leaders came in for wets. Both Porsche Penske Motorsport 963s got trapped in their pit boxes in the crowded pit lane, and while the No. 6 and No. 7 had been first and third, respectively, they ended up fifth and sixth while the two Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06s led the field, the No. 40 leading the No. 10.

The downpour sent several cars sliding off track, which triggered a full-course caution. That became a red flag as water overwhelmed the track and cars could barely stay on the pavement even behind the safety car. By the time the race went green with 16 minutes left, it had undergone a complete reset.

When the red changed back to a full-course caution and the field was back under the safety car, all the cars that had pitted for wets came back in for slicks, as the track was nearly dry again. Deletraz led in the No. 40 Acura, but Nasr had come out of the stop in second, followed by van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac, Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 6 PPM 963 and Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8.

The restart was delayed by the No. 10 Acura losing a wheel, leaving only 16 minutes of intense racing to go. When it came, it was almost a replay of the start 5h45m hours prior, when Deletraz was swamped by the cars behind as he struggled to get temperature in the tires. Nasr and van der Zande were by quickly, Nasr making his move in Turn 1 at the green. Jaminet followed a short time later, pushing Deletraz back to fourth.

With the No. 01 Cadillac now on the tail of the No. 7 Porsche, van der Zande started pressuring Nasr, but Nasr’s decisive moves in traffic kept van der Zande at bay. Nasr crossed the finish 0.749s ahead of the Cadillac.

“It’s that [intense] feeling of no time to waste and that’s how we went into that final with the traffic,” said van der Zande of the chase. “[The GT cars] are also obviously also fighting for their position, so at one point going into the chicane with a Corvette and I think an Aston Martin, they were fighting each other and then I come around as well. It’s quite tricky, and it’s really a dance between those cars and us to not touch each other, but we made it happen. This championship is the only championship in the world [that] has that kind of racing, which is very particular and very cool.”

The No. 6 PPM 963 of Jaminet and Nick Tandy was third, and Deletraz and Jordan Taylor fourth as the top four finished in championship order.

The No. 25 BMW of De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly was an improbable fifth. De Phillippi had crashed the car in the closing minutes of the second practice session on Saturday morning, damaging the monocoque. The test car had to be shipped in from Indianapolis, and BMW M Team RLL crew had to get to work in the early hours of the morning to move most of the back half of the crashed car onto the substitute chassis.

The crew got it done in time for the race, but missed the installation lap. That meant the car had to start from pit lane and serve a subsequent drive-through penalty.

The No. 25 crew was aided by problems for the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, which needed a new nose after Pipo Derani had contact with traffic, and the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Porsche 963 serving a long penalty for contact with the Michelin RFID readers at pit exit.

Cameron and Nasr now lead the GTP points by 93, with 2044 to van der Zande and Bourdais with 1951. Jaminet and Tandy are third with 1912, followed by Jordan Taylor and Deletraz with 1845.

Jake Galstad/Lumen

With newly minted 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nicklas Nielsen in the No. 88 ORECA for its final stint, AF Corse took the LMP2 victory, with Nielsen, Luis Perez Companc and Lilou Wadoux Ducellier.

“It’s been a good couple of weeks I would say,” Nielsen said. “I’m happy to take my maiden win in IMSA as well — super competitive championship. I think we’ve been fast and competitive the whole IMSA season, but we’ve just been a bit unlucky. Obviously with the contact and then the fire in Sebring, that didn’t really help us, but I’m very happy to bounce back here.”

The No. 88 was nearly taken out a couple of times, once on the first lap as Dwight Merriman poked the nose of the No. 18 Era Motorsports ORECA inside and spun Companc, and at the end of the race when Felipe Fraga tried a similar move, but only spun his own No. 74 Riley Motorsports ORECA. It was one of several moments of luck that led to victory.

“We were actually a bit lucky with the first big shower we had when we had the safety car then replaced by the red flag, because we actually started the refueling and then it started to rain heavily in the pit lane and then we decided to go on the wets. Once the restart happened it was more or less already dry again, so I would say we were lucky and then we were a bit unlucky again. More or less everyone had to box for either tires a fuel,” explained Nielsen.

“In the end there was just a hard fight with Colin Braun and Felipe [Fraga]. Racing here is always tough.”

Fraga recovered to finish third on the track, but the second-place No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR team of Colin Braun, George Kurtz and Toby Sowery fell afoul of drive time rules, so Fraga, Gar Robinson and Josh Burdon claimed second. The No. 52 Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA of Jakub Smiechowski, Tom Dillman and Nick Boulle finished third.

Merriman, Ryan Dalziel and Connor Zilisch maintain their LMP2 points lead, but they’re now only four points better than the Riley Motorsports squad, 942 to 938.


Story originally appeared on Racer