Risi Ready to Keep Its Strong Michelin Endurance Cup Run Rolling

By John Oreovicz

IMSA Wire Service

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen brings back the endurance racing element of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after a trio of shorter ‘sprint’ races. It also signals the return of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class.

The Risi team and its primary drivers – Ferrari factory team pilots Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon – compete only in the five races that make up the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. And the opening pair of endurance cup rounds couldn’t have gone much better for the Texas-based team that has become synonymous with the legendary Italian marque in the eyes of American fans.

Rigon and Serra claimed the victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, assisted by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, who finished third overall for Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend. Serra, Rigon, and Calado then followed up their Daytona triumph with a second place at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac.

At that point, Serra, Rigon and Calado held a 98-point lead in the GTD PRO standings over the Paul Miller Racing trio of Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers and Neil Verhagen (No.1 BMW M4 GT3), though they trailed PMR in the separate Michelin Endurance Cup rankings, which uses a different point scoring formula.

Since then, the No. 77 AO Racing ‘Rexy’ Porsche 911 GT3 R and drivers Sebastian Priaulx and Laurin Heinrich used consecutive sprint race victories at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Detroit Street Circuit to take over the regular season class points lead. Now the Michelin Endurance Cup contenders return to the fray at Watkins Glen International, bringing the full field to a robust 56 cars, including 11 in GTD PRO.

Rigon and Serra were also in action last week at Le Mans, and they can’t wait to resume their pursuit of the Michelin Endurance Cup crown.

“Of course, I can’t wait to come back to the U.S. with Risi and get back to leading the (IMEC) championship,” exclaimed Rigon. “Since Sebring I’ve been waiting so much to come back. I only learned the Watkins Glen track two years ago, but I really love this track. I’m absolutely ready for this race.”

The Risi entry placed fifth in the GTD PRO class in the opening practice session, with Serra setting a lap time of 1:46.417 around the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course.

“Last year we finished in second place and we fought for a victory here,” Serra remarked. “I hope we can have the same performance this weekend.”

Following the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, the Michelin Endurance Cup wraps up with the final two WeatherTech Championship races of the season – the TireRack.com Battle On the Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Porsche Paces First WeatherTech Practice Session

Practice Results

WeatherTech SportsCar Championship logged their first track time of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend with a 90-minute practice Friday afternoon.

Conditions started hot and humid with the prospect of precipitation in the air. Raindrops could be felt and seen on car windshelds throughout the session, but it never rained hard enough to soak the track or require treaded Michelin wet-weather tires.

Dane Cameron set the early benchmark lap time of 1 minute, 34.175 seconds (129.970) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 to lead the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) and overall times. The slight moisture in the air and a late interruption for a red flag prevented anyone from beating that time, with Tom Blomqvist coming closest in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R at 1:34.347 (129.733 mph).

Both the red flags that punctuated the session were caused by the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA 07 LMP2 in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class. John Farano took off the car’s rear wing with an early spin, while Charlie Eastwood left the car with left-front damage in a crash at Turn 7 just 14 minutes before the end of the session. Eastwood still ended fourth fastest in the LMP2 class, which was paced by Mikkel Jensen in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA at 1:35.531 (128.125 mph).

In the GT classes, the No. 77 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R known as ‘Rexy’ continued its recent strong form in GTD PRO as Laurin Heinrich was quickest by more than 1/3 of a second over Bryan Sellers in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3. Scott Andrews in the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 topped the GTD timesheet, splitting the GTD PRO frontrunners.

BDO and VP Racing Present WeatherTech Championship Teams with Mid-Season Awards

BDO, one of the nation’s top accounting and advising firms, and an IMSA partner, created the BDO Knows Strategy Award to recognize WeatherTech Championship teams that best execute a successful strategy to deliver results. The IMSA Radio broadcast team – led by John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw, and Shea Adam – select the winning team after every WeatherTech Championship race.

On Friday at Watkins Glen International, the winners for the most recent four rounds of the championship were presented with their trophies, including:

Sebring International Raceway: No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P217 (LMP2)
Long Beach Street Circuit: No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 (GTD)
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca: No. 120 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD)
Detroit Street Circuit: No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 (GTP)

VP Racing Fuels, supplier of the fuels used by every competitor across the eight IMSA-sanctioned series, will on Sunday award the Mid-Year VP Racing Front Runner trophy, and a $5,000 credit toward race fuel for the balance of the 2024 season, to the team in each of the four classes who has led the most laps at the most races through Detroit. Those teams are:

GTP: No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac
LMP2: No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA
GTD PRO: No. 77 AO Racing Porsche
GTD: No. 57 Mercedes-AMG

Hindman, Montour Score Michelin Pilot Challenge Poles

Unofficial Qualifying Results (prior to post-qualifying technical inspection)

The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge rounded out a full day of activity at WGI with qualifying for The Esses 120. It was a one-man show in the Grand Sport (GS) class, as Trent Hindman secured the Motul Pole Award with a 1:54.611 lap in the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS CS, a robust 0.851 second advantage over the second and third fastest qualifiers who posted identical times.

It was a similar story in Touring Car (TCR), where LC Montour in the No. 6 Montreal Motorsport Group Honda Civic FL5 TCR posted a 1:55.423 lap, 0.706 seconds faster than Kuno Wittmer in the No. 93 Montreal Motorsport Group Honda. The two-hour Pilot Challenge race is a highlight of Saturday’s activity from Watkins Glen, with coverage on Peacock from 12:50-3:10 p.m. ET.

Saturday brings another full slate of IMSA activities to Watkins Glen International, with WeatherTech Championship qualifying and races for the Mustang Challenge, Porsche Carrera Cup North America, Lamborghini Super Trofeo, and The Esses 120 at The Glen for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.