The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opened at Daytona International Speedway in January with the traditional Rolex-24. It was followed by the historic 12-Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Mid-Ohio, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock, Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and a 10-hour finale called Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

In 2018, there were three classes:

  • Prototype (P) – These are purpose built race cars and the quickest in the series. Significant changes were implemented to this category in 2017. It included cars constructed to one of two different sets of rules – Daytona Prototype International (DPi) and Le Mans Prototype 2 (P2). The DPi category includes the Cadillac DPi-V.R, Nissan DPi, Acura DPi and Mazda RT24-P. This class allows manufacturers to use their engines. All the P2 cars are powered by a 3.8-liter Gibson V8 engine. Competitors are using chassis’ from ORECA, Ligier and Riley Technologies.
  • Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) – Cars in this class 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 racing in this group are receiving factory support.
  • Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) – This is also a production based class but does not allow the same level of technological improvements that can be made to Grand Touring Le Mans cars. Vehicles in the category include Audi R8 LMS GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488 GT3, BMW M6 GT3, Acura NSX GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Mercedes AMG GT3, Lexus RCF GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage. Similar to Grand Touring Le Mans, the IMSA technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure parity.

Watkins Glen International was race six of the twelve rounds contested during the 2018 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen was also the third race in the Patron North American Endurance Cup. The Patron championship was for the series’ four marquee endurance events – Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

The 2018 edition of the Sahlen’s Six-Hours saw forty-two entries compete on Watkins Glen International’s eleven-turn 3.337-mile road course.

The pace lap for the Sahlen’s Six-Hours of the Glen and on the pole is the United Autosports Ligier LMP2 driven by Paul Di Resta. Sharing the Ligier with Di Resta were Bruno Senna and Phil Hanson. The team inherited the pole when the quickest qualifier, CORE autosport decided to switch their starting driver. The outside of the front row is occupied by the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi driven by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves.
The No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry recorded the ninth fastest time during qualifying. But drivers Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller found more speed in the ORECA LMP2 during the race. Simpson drove the final stint and was in third place after the final caution. A daring pass on the restart moved him into a lead that he would not relinquish. This was the squad’s first Prototype victory.
The No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 was entered by Turner Motorsport. The BMW driven by Don Yount, Markus Palttala and Dillon Machavern was gridded thirty-sixth overall and thirteenth in GTD. During the race, the trio moved through the field. Palttala was behind the wheel for the final stint and passed the Acura of Parente for second. A penalty for the leading Audi moved the Turner entry into first and gave the team the win.
Joey Hand missed taking the GTLM pole from his teammate, Richard Westbrook by just 0.111-seconds. Co-driving the No. 66 Ford GT with Hand was Dirk Mueller. In the final hour of the contest, the pair trailed the No. 3 Corvette but ‘as luck would have it’, they pitted just before the race’s last caution period. This allowed them to gain track position and move into the lead, capturing their first victory of the season.
The fastest competitor during the GTD qualifying session was Jack Hawksworth driving the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3. For the race, Hawksworth was joined by David Heinemeier Hansson and Mario Farnbacher. A series of issues during the event prevented the trio from challenging for the class win. However, they were able to remain on the lead lap and finished twenty-third overall and fourth in GTD.
Colin Braun driving the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 won the overall and Prototype pole by just 0.006-seconds. Sharing the ORECA with Braun were team principal, Jon Bennett and guest driver, Romain Dumas. However, the car was gridded at the back of the class after the team decided to replace Bennett as the starting driver. It appeared to be of little consequence as the trio finished in the runner-up spot.
During qualifying the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi was fourth fastest with Dane Cameron behind the wheel. Cameron’s co-driver for the event was Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya drove the final stint and was challenging Jordan Taylor for the lead after the final restart. Competing for the position slowed the two drivers allowing Stephan Simpson to pass for the lead. Montoya lost second place on the last lap to Romain Dumas.
United Autosports was rejoining the series after skipping the last three rounds. Second quickest during the Prototype qualifying session was Paul Di Resta driving the team’s Ligier LMP2. Di Resta would share the car with Bruno Senna and Phil Hanson. The trio led a total of twenty-four-laps throughout the six-hour contest but could not match the pace of the leaders. At the checkered flag, they were in fourth place.
Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia qualified just 0.132-seconds behind the sister car driven by Tommy Milner for fourth on the GTLM grid. Garcia’s driving partner for the event was Jan Magnussen. In the final hour of the contest, the No. 3 Corvette was in first but they pitted after the race’s last yellow flag period and surrendered the lead to the No. 66 Ford GT. Unable to make up the deficit, Magnussen and Garcia finished second.
Fresh off the GTD class victory at Detroit was Katherine Legge driving the No. 86 Acura NSX. Legge was paired with Mario Farnbacher at Detroit but at Watkins Glen her driving partner would be Alvaro Parente. The Acura started fourth in class. The duo benefitted from the penalty given to Land Motorsport Audi and finished second in their category. The result put Legge within a single-point of the championship leaders.
Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow entered the Sahlen’s Six Hour of the Glen with the GTD points lead. Their 2018 season included a victory at Sebring but probably more impressive was the fact that they have finished on the podium at every event. Watkins Glen would be no different – the pair were gridded seventh in class for the start. At the end of the six-hours, they grabbed the final spot on the GTD podium.
Quicker of the two Penske entries was the No. 7 Acura DPi qualified by Ricky Taylor. Taylor and his co-driver, Helio Castroneves would start third. The pair scored a victory in round four at Mid-Ohio. Unfortunately Watkins Glen would not be as kind. The Acura developed transmission issues in the third hour of the contest. They lost four-laps to the race winners and finished twelfth overall and in the Prototype category.
Sharing the driving duties on the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR were Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy. Along with Frederic Makowiecki, the pair were victorious in round two at the Sebring. The Porsche appeared to be off the pace at Watkins Glen as they were only the sixth fastest GTLM entry in a field of eight cars. Fortunately, the team found more speed during the race and the paired captured the final spot on the class podium.
The quicker of the two Audi R8 LMS GT3s competing at the Sahlen’s Six Hour was the Montaplast by Land Motorsport. Christopher Mies performed the qualifying duties and was second fastest. Mies was paired with Sheldon van der Linde for the event. The team was leading in the final hour but two penalties took them out of contention. At this point, a decision was made to withdraw from the race.
The third place qualifier in GTD was the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 shared by Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann. The duos were victorious at Mid-Ohio but Watkins Glen would not be one of their better outings. Fuel pump and pit-stop issues took Marcelli and Baumann ‘out of the hunt’ for the win. They only completed 111 to the 186-laps achieved by the class winning Turner BMW. The pair finished fifteenth in GTD.
Starting in the second row of the GTLM field were the two entries from Corvette Racing. The quicker of the two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs was the No. 4 shared by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. They were victorious in round three at Long Beach. At Watkins Glen, Gavin and Milner were able to lead laps-114 to 133 but fell off the pace and finished seventeenth overall and fifth in class.
Topping the GTLM qualifying sheet was the No. 67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook. Sharing the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry with Westbrook was Ryan Briscoe. The pair led a total of sixty-seven laps during the race but the car developed a handling issue when a sway-bar broke. At the checkered flag, they were one lap down to the leaders and recorded their worst finish of the season – sixth in the GTLM class.

1PC. Miller / S. Simpson / M. GoikhbergORECA 07202-
2PJ. Bennett / C. Braun / R. DumasORECA 07202-
3PD. Cameron / J-P. MontoyaAcura ARX-05202-
4PP. Hanson / P. Di Resta / B. SennaLigier JS P217202-
5PJ. Taylor / R. Van Der ZandeCadillac DPi-V.R202-
6PG. Chaves / C. Fittipaldi / F. AlbuquerqueCadillac DPi-V.R202-
7PF. Nasr / E. Curran / M. ConwayCadillac DPi-V.R202-
8PS. Trummer / R. Alon / N. PanciaticiORECA 07202-
9PS. Saavedra / G. YacamanLigier JS P217202-
10PJ. Bomarito / H. Tincknell / S. PigotMazda RT-24P202-
11PM. McMurry / T. VautierCadillac DPi-V.R198-
12PH. Castroneves / R. TaylorAcura ARX-05198-
13GTLMJ. Hand / D. MuellerFord GT190-
14GTLMJ. Magnussen / A. GarciaCorvette C7.R190-
15GTLMP. Pilet / N. TandyPorsche 911 RSR190-
16GTLML. Vanthoor / E. BamberPorsche 911 RSR190-
17GTLMT. Milner / O. GavinCorvette C7.R189-
18GTLMR. Briscoe / R. WestbrookFord GT189-
19GTLMA. Sims / C. De Phillippi / B. AuberlenBMW M8 GTLM189-
20GTDD. Machavern / M. Palttala / D. YountBMW M6 GT3186-
21GTDK. Legge / A. ParenteAcura NSX GT3186-
22GTDB. Sellers / M. SnowLamborghini Huracan186-
23GTDHawksworth / Heinemeier HanssonLexus RC F GT3186-
24GTDB. Keating / J. Bleekemolen / L. StolzMercedes-AMG GT3186-
25GTDP. Lindsey / J. BergmeisterPorsche 911 GT3 R186-
26GTDC. MacNeil / G. Jeannette / J. SegalFerrari 488 GT3186-
27GTDK. Habul / M. Grenier / T. JaegerMercedes-AMG GT3186-
28GTDP. Long / C. Nielsen / R. RenauerPorsche 911 GT3 R186-
29GTDB. Sweedler / T. Bell / F. MontecalvoFerrari 488 GT3185-
30GTDM. Miller / T. BechtolsheimerAcura NSX GT3185-
31GTDJ. Potter / A. Lally / A. DavisAudi R8 LMS GT3184-
32GTDS.van der Linde / C. MiesAudi R8 LMS GT3177Withdrawn
33GTDF. Piovanetti / O. Negri / D. SerraFerrari 488 GT3167Did Not Finish
34PO. Jarvis / T. Nunez / R. RastMazda RT-24P166Electrical
35GTLMJ. Krohn / J. EdwardsBMW M8 GTLM163-
36PJ. French / K. Masson / J. MillerORECA 07116Accident
37GTDD. Baumann / K. MarcelliLexus RC F GT3111Fuel Pump
38GTDJ. Marks / L. AschenbachAcura NSX GT376Suspension
39GTDC. Gilsinger / R. Eversley / T. DyerAcura NSX GT376Did Not Finish
40GTDJC Perez / L. Spinelli / A. ChristodoulouMercedes-AMG GT345Did Not Finish
41PS. Sharp / R. Dalziel / O. PlaNissan DPi32Engine
42PJ. van Overbeek / P. Derani / N. LapierreNissan DPi8Engine

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