WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - After Porsche Penske Motorsport had its No. 6 Porsche 963 fail post-race inspection at Watkins Glen International, the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 of Nick Yelloly and Connor De Phillippi got promoted to the overall win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.
In the closing minutes of the six-hour endurance race, Mathieu Jaminet, who was driving the No. 6 Porsche at the time, executed a daring maneuver to overtake De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW for the lead. This thrilling battle took place amidst lapped traffic with only five minutes remaining in the race.
Unfortunately, the battle came to an abrupt end when the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 of Bill Auberlen crashed into the tire barriers and flipped over. Auberlen was able to get out of the car under his own power and walk away from the incident.
The cars maintained their positions as the full-course caution emerged, ending the race behind the safety car.
After the race, it was discovered that the No. 6 Porsche's skid block failed to meet the minimum thickness requirement, resulting in the car being relegated to the rear of the GTP finishing order. Consequently, the No. 25 BMW was declared the winner.
This victory marks the German manufacturer's first win in the modern GTP era. Notably, all four participating marques (Acura, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW) in IMSA's premier category have now secured wins within the first five races of the formula's debut season. Additionally, this win represents the sixth triumph of De Phillippi's IMSA career, while his co-driver, Yelloly, celebrated his maiden IMSA win.
“I am incredibly happy for the entire team, who have more than earned this victory through their hard work," Yelloly said. "We have been steadily improving, and the first win was within reach. It wasn’t the way we wanted to win, as we prefer to win on the track and celebrate on the podium.
"However, we gladly accept the victory nonetheless – after all, it is the first for the BMW M Hybrid V8 and also my first in the IMSA series. Therefore, it holds a special significance for all of us.”
Porsche Penske Motorsport intends to file a protest against IMSA's ruling, hoping their Watkin Glen win will eventually get restored.
IMSA mandates a minimum thickness requirement to prevent teams from running their cars too low. If the skid block wears too thin, it implies excessive bottoming out of the car.
The outcome of Porsche's protest will bear significant consequences for the championship standings. A denial of the protest would result in a substantial 120-point swing for the No. 6 team. In such a scenario, the No. 31 Action Express Racing/Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R of Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims, would reclaim the top spot in the championship, with the No. 25 BMW in second place.
The revised podium includes the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac V-Series.R in second place, driven by Derani, Sims and Jack Aitken. Taking the final spot on the podium is the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06, with Tom Blomqvist and Colin Braun.
Among the 57 entries in the race, nine GTP cars participated. However, several encountered issues during the event. The No. 24 BMW of Augusto Farfus crashed into the Turn 1 barrier on the opening lap, resulting in an early retirement.
An hour into the race, the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac sustained damage while attempting to avoid a slower GTD car, hampering its performance. The No. 7 Porsche led for 35 laps before retiring to the garage for repairs to its hybrid power system.
Additionally, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport/Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 lost a wheel assembly on the track, necessitating a slow journey to the pit lane for a replacement.
In LMP2, the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07-Gibson took class honors, with Ben Hanley, George Kurtz and Nolan Siegel. Kurtz continues his hot streak after winning at Watkins Glen, who also claimed LMP2 Pro-Am class honors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a few weeks ago with Colin Braun and James Allen.
The No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 of Felipe Fraga, Gar Robinson and Josh Burdon won LMP3, holding off JR III Racing.
Vasser Sullivan's Lexus RC F GT3s swept both GTD Pro and GTD classes, with the No. 14 Lexus and No. 12 Lexus each getting a chance to celebrate at the top step of the podium. In GTD Pro, Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat (No. 14 Lexus) survived a late-race challenge from Risi Competizione's No. 62 Ferrari 296 GT3 and Corvette Racing's No. 3 Corvette C8.R GTD.
Meanwhile, Aaron Telitz, Frankie Montecalvo and Parker Thompson (No. 12 Lexus) aced their GTD rivals in upstate New York.
After six long hours, here's the final podium:
1. C. De Phillippi, N. Yelloly, No. 25 BMW M Team RLL - BMW M Hybrid V8
2. P. Derani, A. Sims, J. Aitken, No. 31 Action Express Racing - Cadillac V-Series.R
3. T. Blomqvist, C. Braun, No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian - Acura ARX-06
The next race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 9 (Noon ET on NBC).