One of the favorite tracks of many drivers on the SRO Motorsports America calendar, Watkins Glen will once again host Fanatec GT World Challenge America Presented by AWS, Pirelli GT4 America and Touring Car America, along with the new GT America series, after a year’s hiatus.
If there’s a team with more momentum than Turner Motorsports coming into the race, we don’t know who that is. Michael Dinan and Robby Foley have come off their first win in the Pro category of GT World Challenge America at Road America three weeks ago, and are now tied in points with K-PAX’s Corey Lewis and Giovanni Venturini. Plus, the track tends to be a place where Turner’s BMW M6 does well, and Foley along with Bill Auberlen and Aidan Read won the Sahlen’s 6 Hours at the Glen IMSA WeatherTech Championship race in June.
“Historically the M6 has always been pretty strong there,” says Foley. “We had a good test there as well. The thing this year is learning the Pirelli tire – it’s very different from the Michelin we race on in IMSA. Now I think we’re in a good window, and finding a good setup to take advantage of where the car is strong. We tend to love high-speed, flowing tracks, so Watkins Glen should be great for us.”
The Glen has some fast corners where drivers crave downforce. But it also has some long straights where all that downforce will hinder the car’s ultimate speed. That, says Foley, is a key test that the track presents.
“I think you’re always balancing how much aero you run for performance in the corners versus top speed,” he explains.
“Historically, Watkins Glen, you’d call it high-downforce track because you have a lot of high-speed corners. But also you have a long run from Turn 1 to the Bus Stop. For us, the Esses are flat out, so it’s basically a straightaway. So you’re always balancing how much aero do you want to run versus drag. That’s the biggest challenge, I think. You never really go slow there; it’s mid-speed or high-speed corners So it’s, do you want more high speed, or more downforce?”
Both of the tied-for-second-in-points teams have a long way to go to catch Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper in the K-PAX Lamborghini, and only five rounds in which to do it. But the battle for second in the Pro class is certainly heating up, with Winward Racing’s Russell Ward not far behind.
In GT4 America, the most interesting points battle is in the Silver category. Murillo Racing’s Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak either finish first or second in the No. 72 Mercedes AMG, or out of the points completely. That’s kept Team TFB’s Tim Barber and Cole Ciraulo in the hunt, 32 points behind Murillo Racing’s 136. That’s more than a win’s worth, but the Glen couldn’t certainly tighten things up.
Eric Powell had a good weekend in the Skip Barber Racing School Honda Civic Type-R at Road America, and where he and last year’s TCA champion Kevin Boehm, in the CrowdStrike Civic Type-R, had been neck-and-neck, Powell now leads the championship by 21.5 points. Austen Smith, in an AutoTechnic BMW 240iR, scored his first win at Road America to close up to Boehm.
All qualifying sessions and races of each series at Watkins Glen will be streamed live on the GTWorld YouTube channel, with audio simulcasts on SiriusXM Satellite Radio channel 392 (992 on the web app). CBS Sports Network live programming begins Sunday at 1:00 pm EDT.