Daring late-race move seals win for Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen
All eyes were on Juan Pablo Montoya and Jordan Taylor at the last restart with 36 minutes left to race, but it was Stephen Simpson who would go from third to first to win the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International.
As Montoya and Taylor fought for the lead, Simpson made a daring move to go three wide ahead of the track’s famous loop section and came out ahead while the two DPi runners were scratching their heads.
Montoya made a final push to the front as Simpson was held up by a Mazda, but pressure from Romain Dumas allowed Simpson to stay in the lead to take the checkered flag.
The JDC-Miller Motorsports teammates of Simpson and Goikhberg stood on top of the podium, just days after team boss John Church stated he was considering a move from LMP2 to DPi to compete for wins. On top of that, it was one year on from a missed opportunity that saw them finish P2 at the Glen in 2017.
"The heartbreak last year really pulled this team together,” Canadian driver Goikhberg said, celebrating a victory on Canada Day. “This time, we weren’t nervous at all. What a performance, to finally be able to do this with this group of people.”
“To finally give them a victory is unbelievable.”
LMP2 programs finished P1 and P2, as Dumas took second place away from Montoya in a drag race to the finish line. Paul di Resta’s United Autosport LMP2 came in P4, lamenting a missed opportunity to win after contact with the #54 caused damage and a slow pit stop took them out of contention. Wayne Taylor Racing’s woes continued, as they went from fighting for the win to ultimately finishing P5.
The #7 of Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves took a major hit in the points, as they finished P12 with a nagging engine issue and pit penalty.
While Porsche GT and Corvette Racing did everything they could to spoil a perfect weekend for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Dirk Mueller fought back late to put the #66 Ford in victory lane in GTLM. He and teammate Joey Hand now boast a one-point lead over their teammates in the #67 in the championship standings, as Richard Westbrook came up P6.
Patrick Pilet looked to spoil the party for Ford much of the race, but ultimately would finish P3 behind Antonio Garcia’s Corvette. The three teams traded dominant segments all race long, ultimately having one driver in each of the top three finishing positions.
Markus Palttala inherited the lead from a penalized Sheldon van der Linde, taking the victory for Turner Motorsport in the #96 BMW. The #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of van der Linde, having fought back from losing pace to leading the race after overtaking a strong Katherine Legge, was penalized for working on a closed pit road.
Staying out and challenging the call, the team eventually withdrew from the race, handing the win to Paltatla.
Alvaro Parente came up second after Legge spent much of her stints in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura battling for the lead. The pair finished one place ahead of Bryan Sellers’ Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini, solidifying the title bout between the two entries.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to racing action next weekend north of the border for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Like Watkins Glen before it, the #99 JDC-Miller Motorsports team finished P2 at the iconic “Mosport” track in 2017.