The 2015 IMSA WeatherTech season opened at Daytona International Speedway in January with the traditional Rolex 24. It was followed by the historic 12-Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock, Road America, VIRginia International Raceway, Circuit of the Americas and a 10-hour finale at Road Atlanta.

There were four classes:

  • Prototype (P) – These are purpose built race cars and the quickest in the series. Included in this group are Daytona Prototypes from the former Grand Am series and P2 cars. Manufacturers such as Ford, Chevrolet, Honda and Mazda are supplying engines that produce 550-600 horsepower. Chassis’ competing in the category include the Corvette DP, DeltaWing DWC 13, Mazda/Lola, Riley DP and Ligier JS P2.
  • Prototype Challenge (PC) – This is a spec class using the ORECA FLM09 chassis. The cars are powered by a Chevrolet LS3 engine which produces approximately 485-horsepower.
  • GT Le Mans (GTLM) – Cars in this group are highly modified production vehicles from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet and BMW. As a result, a wide range of engine configurations and displacements are employed. The series technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure that teams are competing on a ‘level playing field.’ Most of the teams competing in this group are receiving factory support. Vehicles in the category include Audi, Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW and Dodge.
  • GT Daytona (GTD) – This is also a production based class but does not allow the same level of technological improvements that can be made to GT Le Mans cars. Vehicles in the category include Audi R8 LMS, Porsche 911 GT America, Ferrari 458 Italia and Dodge Viper SRT. Similar to GT Le Mans, the technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure parity.

    In 2014, the American Le Mans and Rolex Sportscar Series merged to form the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship. The primary concern among teams was whether their current equipment would be competitive in the new series. While progress had been made in the first year to balance the performance of different GT marques, the series was still challenged by their premier class – the Prototypes. Those ‘in the know’ recognized that it would be difficult to achieve parity between the Daytona and Le Mans Prototypes as they were designed and constructed using a different set of rules. But, the series technical officials listened to the teams and continued to make progress on this issue in 2015.

    Watkins Glen International was race six of the twelve rounds contested during the 2015 Grand-Am season. It was one of the longer events on the schedule at six hours in length. The first six-hour contest at Watkins Glen was held in 1968 for the International Championship of Makes. The long-distance race was an annual event until the track encountered financial difficulties in 1982. With new ownership in place, the facility began hosting shorter endurance events, until 1996 when the six-hour race returned and became a permanent fixture on Watkins Glen’s Calendar.

    The Sahlen’s 6 Hours saw thirty-four starters compete on Watkins Glen’s eleven-turn 3.337-mile road course. Heavy rains washed out qualifying and the grid was set by points. Significant rain fell during the race and in hour five, the event was red flagged for fourteen minutes.

  • Last year’s Sahlen’s 6 Hours winners – Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante – shared the outside of the front row with the pole-sitting Action Express Racing entry. In contention the entire race, Westbrook took the lead in the final ten minutes when the first place Ganassi Riley pitted for fuel. The victory gave Westbrook and Valiante the points lead.
    The Starworks Motorsports points collected to date earned the team the fourteenth grid position which placed them sixth in Prototype Challenge. The No. 8 ORECA FLM09 was driven by Mike Hedlund, Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow. With less than thirty minutes remaining in the contest, van der Zande passed Martin Plowman for the lead. Despite a challenge for Tom Kimber-Smith, he held on for the victory.
    Prototype Challenge point’s leaders and last year’s Sahlen’s 6 Hours winners - Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and James Gue started on the class pole – ninth overall. However, they could not match the pace of their competitors and were fourth in class at the checkered flag. The defending Prototype Challenge champion’s 2015 winless streak continued.
    Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler shared the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 991 RSR. The pair started second last in GTLM and twenty-third overall. They were able to survive the rain and when the class-leading Corvette encountered steering problems they inherited the lead. Despite being low on fuel late in the race, Henzler and Sellers held on for the win.
    The No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT won the GTD category in the season opener at Daytona but was only entered in two more races. As a result, drivers - Al Carter, Cameron Lawrence and Marc Goossens started last in the thirty-four car field. Goossens took the class lead from the Magnus Racing entry just past the five-hour mark and held on for the class win.
    Gridded last in GTLM and twenty-third overall were Earl Bamber, Jorg Bergmeister and Nick Tandy. Early in the race, Bamber made contact with the BMW of Bill Auberlen. The crew was able to repair the No. 912 Porsche 991 RSR. Bamber was at the wheel and in third place as the event entered the final 15-minutes. He passed Auberlen and scored the runner-up spot in GTLM.
    Sharing the Magnus Racing Porsche 991 GT America were Andy Lally, Marco Seefried and team principal, John Potter. Lally led the GTD category at the five-hour mark but he was passed by the Viper of Marc Goossens and Mario Farnbacher in a Porsche. Farnbacher slid off the course in the final ten minutes and the Magnus squad captured second in GTD.
    Consistent finishes in the first four races by the Paul Miller Racing team gave them the top spot on the GTD grid. Racing the No. 48 Audi LMS were Christopher Haase, Dion von Moltke and Bryce Miller. Late in the race, the team was fourth. In the final ten minutes, the second place Alex Job Racing Porsche went off course which allowed the Miller team to take the final spot on the podium.
    The Chip Ganassi Racing Riley MK XXVI was co-driven by Joey Hand and sports car veteran, Scott Pruett – they started fifth overall. During the final hour, the Ganassi duo appeared to be in control of the race and it looked like they would capture the team’s first win of 2015. However, with less than ten minutes to go in the contest, Hand pitted for fuel. They claimed the runner-up spot.
    As a result of their performances to date (five top five finishes including a victory at Sebring), the Action Express Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP started on the pole. The No. 5 car was driven by Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Max Papis. At the end of six hours of racing, they had completed 160-laps. They were the last car on the lead lap and took the final spot on the overall and Prototype podium.
    Starting tenth overall and second in Prototype Challenge was the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry shared by Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith and Andrew Palmer. In the final thirty minutes of the race, Kimber-Smith passed second place Martin Plowman and challenged the class leader Renger van der Zande. Unable to get by van der Zande, the team settled for second in class.
    Dirk Werner and BMW veteran, Bill Auberlen started seventeenth overall and second in GTLM. Auberlen started the race and survived an early incident which saw him spin in front of the entire GTD field. With fifteen minutes left in the event, Auberlen was second in class but he was passed by the Porsche of Earl Bamber. At the finish, he and his teammate, Werner were second in GTLM.
    Gridded last in the Prototype Challenge class were Daniel Burkett, Martin Plowman and Matthew McMurry in the BAR1 Motorsports entry. The BAR1 ORECA ran with the category leaders for much of the race. But with thirty minutes remaining in the contest, Plowman surrendered the lead to Renger van der Zande and was also passed by Tom Kimber-Smith. The No. 16 ORECA finished third in class.
    Max Angelelli shared the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP with brothers - Ricky and Jordan Taylor. Based on the team’s points they started fourth overall. The trio moved to the top of the lap chart but on lap-143, Ricky Taylor had a heavy crash in corner ten. Unable to continue the team was classified twenty-eighth overall.
    Three podium finishes which included two wins in the first four events gave Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia the GTLM pole. The point’s leaders could not match the pace of some of the other GTLM competitors. Despite an off-course excursion, Magnussen and Garcia finished thirteenth overall and fourth in class.

    1PWestbrook / ValianteChevrolet Corvette DP160-
    2PHand / PruettRiley Mk XXVI Ford160-
    3PFittipaldi / Barbosa / PapisChevrolet Corvette DP160-
    4PCHedlund / van der Zande / PopowOreca FLM09158-
    5PCGuasch / Kimber-Smith / PalmerOreca FLM09158-
    6PCBurkett / Plowman / McMurryOreca FLM09158-
    7PCBennett / Braun / GueOreca FLM09158-
    8PCameron / Curran / PapisChevrolet Corvette DP158-
    9PCGoikhberg / Mitchell / MillerOreca FLM09158-
    10GTLMSellers / HenzlerPorsche 991 RSR157-
    11GTLMBamber / Bergmeister / TandyPorsche 991 RSR157-
    12GTLMAuberlen / WernerBMW Z4 GTE157-
    13GTLMMagnussen / GarciaChevrolet Corvette C7.R157-
    14GTLMKaffer / FisichellaFerrari 458 Italia157-
    15GTLMPilet / Tandy / BamberPorsche 991 RSR157-
    16GTDCarter / Lawrence / GoossensDodge Viper SRT152-
    17GTDPotter / Lally / SeefriedPorsche 991 GT America152-
    18GTDHaase / von Moltke / MillerAudi R8 LMS152-
    19GTDSweedler / BellFerrari 458 Italia152-
    20GTDMacNeil / Keen / DavisPorsche 991 GT America152Did Not Finish
    21GTDKeating / BleekemolenDodge Viper SRT152Did Not Finish
    22GTDFarnbacher / JamesPorsche 991 GT America152Did Not Finish
    23GTDSnow / HeylenPorsche 991 GT America152-
    24GTDMarsal / PalttalaBMW Z4151Did Not Finish
    25GTDWittmer / NielsenAston Martin V12 Vantage148Did Not Finish
    26GTDLindsey / PumpellyPorsche 991 GT America147Did Not Finish
    27PLong / Miller / DevlinMazda Prototype144-
    28PTaylor / Taylor / AngelelliChevrolet Corvette DP143Did Not Finish
    29GTLMGavin / MilnerChevrolet Corvette C7.R136Did Not Finish
    30PCCumming / JunqueiraOreca FLM09110-
    31PCDaly / French / MeeOreca FLM09105-
    32PNegri / PewLigier JS P2 Honda HPD102Did Not Finish
    33PRojas / LeggeDeltaWing DWC1395Did Not Finish
    34GTLMEdwards / LuhrBMW Z4 GTE77Did Not Finish

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