The Porsche customer team Wright Motorsports has secured an excellent starting position in the qualifying for the six-hour race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Watkins Glen. American Trent Hindman planted his No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the second grid spot of the GTD class. For the young amateur driver, this was the first qualifying session at the wheel of the 911 built to comply with the FIA GT3 regulations. At round five of the season, the identical 500+PS vehicles fielded by Pfaff Motorsports and Hardpoint EBM take up the GTD class from positions 9 and 13. In the GTLM category, the American Cooper MacNeil qualified WeatherTech Racing’s Porsche 911 RSR on position five.
“So far, the weekend has been difficult for us, but we’re working on making more progress. I’m convinced that the Porsche 911 RSR will be better sorted for the race,” explains Steffen Höllwarth, Head of GTLM Operations. The reason for choosing the amateur driver Cooper MacNeil for the qualifying was tactical. In the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the drivers who qualified their respective vehicles must be the starting driver in the race. For this reason, MacNeil will contest the first stint on Sunday before making way for works drivers Matt Campbell (Australia) and Mathieu Jaminet (France), who will then attack in the decisive second half of the race. This tactic paid off at Sebring in March and resulted in a sensational class win.
Since the beginning of the 2021 season, the GTD-class qualifying has been divided into two sections. In the first part, amateur drivers compete for grid positions; in the second 15 minutes, professionals fight for points towards the championship. During the Watkins Glen qualifying, the Wright Motorsports’ drivers gave impressive performances in both disciplines. First, Trent Hindman planted the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the second starting position, then in the second session, works driver Patrick Long (USA) earned 30 championship points for third place. At the wheel of the No. 9 car fielded by Pfaff Motorsports, Zacharie Robichon achieved the ninth fastest time, with works driver Laurens Vanthoor from Belgium harvesting 25 points for sixth place. Rob Ferriol from the USA and Britain’s Katherine Legge qualified the No. 88 entry of Hardpoint EBM on P13 and P12.
Round five of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in Watkins Glen gets underway on Sunday, 27 June, at 10:40 am local time (4:40 pm CEST) and runs over six hours.
Qualifying quotes from the drivers
Cooper MacNeil (Porsche 911 RSR #79): “We came testing here in Watkins Glen a few weeks ago. The Porsche 911 RSR ran perfectly during the two days. So we assumed we’d roll the car out of the transport truck and immediately be in full swing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all. We need to do more work on the setup. The team is working hard to make these improvements. Under these circumstances, the qualifying was okay.”
Trent Hindman (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16): “The car was very good in the qualifying. We’ve made decent progress so far this weekend and we’ll definitely have a strong car for the race. Let’s see where we’ll end up after six hours. The grid position is good. Second place at my very first qualifying in the Porsche 911 GT3 R is pretty impressive. The team is feeling confident.”
Zacharie Robichon (Porsche 911 GT3 R #9): “We had several setbacks during the practice with technical hiccups and an accident. The car was repaired in time for the qualifying, but unfortunately, I made a few mistakes on every lap. It could have gone better. Still, the race is six hours long, so nothing is lost yet. We’ll go all-out on Sunday.”
Rob Ferriol (Porsche 911 GT3 R #88): “The qualifying was difficult. The conditions during the session were slightly different than in the morning practice because it was significantly warmer. I did my best under these circumstances. More important than the grid positions is the pace over the whole race distance. I hope that we’ll be a little stronger in this respect.”
Grid positions GTLM class
1. Garcia/Taylor (E/USA), Chevrolet Corvette #3
2. Tandy/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette #4
3. De Phillippi/Eng/Spengler (USA/A/CDN), BMW M8 GTE #25
5. MacNeil/Campbell/Jaminet (USA/AUS/F), Porsche 911 RSR #79
Grid positions GTD class
1. Kirkwood/Hawksworth/Telitz (USA/GB/USA), Lexus RC F GT3 #14
2. Long/Hindman/Heylen (USA/USA/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #16
3. Conwright/Yount/Plattala (USA/USA/B), Audi R8 LMS GT3 #42
9. Robichon/Vanthoor/Kern (CDN/B/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #9
13. Ferriol/Legge/Davis (USA/GB/USA), Porsche 911 GT3 R #88
WeatherTech Racing to Start Fifth at The Glen
Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Matt Campbell (Australia), and Mathieu Jaminet (France) will start fifth for tomorrow’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
MacNeil had the wheel of the Proton Competition prepared No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR for the 15-minute qualifying session this afternoon at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Having worked through some handling issues in the previous two practice sessions he was able to post a time of 1:42.363 good for a third row starting position. The team is coming off of a win at Sebring in March and is looking to keep the strong performance going for six hours tomorrow in upstate New York.
“It has been a struggle here so far this weekend,” MacNeil said. “We tested here so we thought we would unload a really strong race car, but we have been fighting setup issues since lap one on Friday. The Proton guys and girls have been working really hard on the race car. We got a lot more speed out of it in qualifying from the previous practice. Everyone is working to improve the WeatherTech Porsche. We are starting fifth tomorrow, which is where we started at Sebring. Can only go up from there.”
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing