HPD Racing Report
Sunday, June 28, 2015
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
Circuit: Watkins Glen International Raceway (3.4-mile road course), Watkins Glen, NY
2014 Winner: Richard Westbrook/Michael Valiente (Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP)
Weather: Overcast, intermittent rain showers, 73 degrees F
Disappointment for Honda, Michael Shank Racing at Watkins Glen
· Contact, suspension issue force retirement
· Ligier-Honda combination again proves fast, leading three practice sessions
Honda-powered Michael Shank Racing proved it had the performance to win Sunday at Watkins Glen International Raceway in upstate New York, once again leading the time sheets in all three practice sessions prior to qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen. But damage after contact while passing a GT Le Mans category entry led to the eventual retirement of the Honda-powered Ligier JS P2, just past the mid-point of the six-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship event.
Starting sixth after heavy rains resulted in race officials cancelling qualifying, setting the field on championship points, Oswaldo “Ozz” Negri gained three postions in the opening laps and remained in the lead pack for the first two hours, amid on-and-off rain showers, before handing off to co-driver John Pew.
Pew took over in fifth position, and soon moved to fourth. But contact with the barriers while passing a GT car damaged the left front tire and bodywork of the Ligier-Honda, resulting in an unscheduled pit stop and dropped Pew down the order. In the fourth hour, a sheared suspension bolt – likely also result of the previous contact – sent Pew back to pit lane for extended repairs. With heavy rain now falling and all chances for a podium finish gone, the Shank team elected to retire the car.
In two weeks, the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship continues its run of classic North American road racing circuits and heads north to Canada for the Mobil-1 Sportscar Grand Prix, July 12 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Ozz Negri (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda): “The car was very good and I was quicker than the guys ahead. In the beginning, [on slick tires on a wet race track] it was pretty hairy. But once we got heat in the tires the car picked up. We had very good speed, but it was hard to move forward—the [Daytona Prototype cars] were quicker in different places. A few times I tried some bold moves, passing around the outside, but I thought it was a little bit risky and too early for that. At the end of the day, this is racing. These were extremely difficult conditions. It's unfortunate what happened to John (Pew), but it happens in racing. We did the best we could. We had a fast car and that's all we can say. Now we will just look ahead to Mosport, I think that is another opportunity for us to do well and we will want to make the most of it. ”
John Pew (#60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda): “I had an incident with a GTLM car. It wasn't his fault. I was trying to pass in the last corner. I came out right behind him and was accelerating right behind him at the exit curb. I either lost downforce because I was too close to him, or there was a wet spot on the curb. I tapped the wall, which damaged the front left tire. We had to come in for a new nose. It also probably caused the problem with the suspension. The car definitely didn't handle well after that, I was driving with a crooked steering wheel. I was doing the best I could. The team did a great job, these guys did a fantastic job. I feel really bad for the Shank guys, they give it their all and they never complain. It’s my mistake. It's part of the business. It happens.”