Deletraz Leads Fast GTP Field at Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen

By John Oreovicz and David Phillips

IMSA Wire Service

Louis Deletraz figured the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 was due for a turnaround after a couple frustrating races.

Earning the Motul Pole Award for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is the best possible start.

Deletraz claimed his second career pole in IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship competition Saturday, pushing the WTRAndretti Acura to a Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class record lap of 1 minute, 32.209 seconds (132.741 mph) on a hot, humid afternoon. He and co-driver Jordan Taylor are looking to reverse a series of average results since they teamed with Colton Herta to win the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac in March.

At the fast and flowing 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course, Deletraz found just enough speed to nip Renger van der Zande and the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R by 0.038-seconds. Jack Aitken will line up third for Sunday’s six-hour race in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac.

“I really enjoy qualifying,” Deletraz remarked. “Getting to run low fuel levels on those prototype cars is fantastic. Today the Acura ARX-06 was fast – really fast. I really enjoyed that one lap. I pushed it to the limit and it really paid off. The car was amazing, and it’s great for the points. But in the end, the job is to bring it home tomorrow. We still have a hard job to do tomorrow.”

Despite not returning to the podium since Sebring, Taylor and Deletraz are within 129 points of the GTP class championship lead held by Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Penske 963. They will start sixth on Sunday.

“For sure winning Sebring was great, but we had some hard weekends at (WeatherTech Raceway) Laguna Seca and Detroit,” Deletraz said. “So we are looking forward to bounce back here and chase another win. It’s very hot, so for sure it’s going to be physical tomorrow. We’re going to lose some kilos, but I’m really excited. I think with the weather coming in, we will have to play it hour-by-hour to be in position for the last two hours and start fighting from there.”

P.J. Hyett stormed to an impressive Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) pole position. Not only did he set the fastest time in all three sectors of the 3.4-mile road course in the No. 99 AO Racing ORECA LMP2 07, his lap of 1:35.925 (127.599 mph) was 0.682 seconds clear of second place Daniel Goldburg in the No. 22 United Autosports USA ORECA, a veritable eternity given that all but one competitor in the class fields a virtually identical car.

“I wouldn’t call it a perfect lap,” Hyett said. “There’s still 12 things I could have done better about that lap. (But) when you see the time after you go over the start/finish, yeah, it’s a magical feeling.”

The pole position is the latest success for the AO Racing team Hyett founded prior to last year, and comes on the heels of the team’s No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) wins in the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N and the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic.

“It’s been a special year for AO,” he said. “I felt like last year we were taking all the lumps and we’re getting some payoffs this year . . . We’re still a relatively small upstart. We’ve only been doing this for a season and a half now. To have these poles and have race wins with the GTD PRO program is amazing.”

However, Hyett is keenly aware that qualifying on pole is just one step in a successful weekend of racing. After all, he won the LMP2 pole for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring this year only to finish well down the order in the race itself, at least in part, owing to some mistakes he made.

“Sebring was really humbling,” he said, “because I got the pole but I made some mistakes in the race. So as excited as I am to get another pole, the focus is on tomorrow and our team putting together a great race.

“You push and go all-in for these qualifying laps, and I was over the moon at Sebring. The most magical parts of motorsports come when you do a lap like that and get pole.

“So, I’m unbelievably excited for my team and myself that we got another pole. However, succeeding and being on top of that podium tomorrow is far more important.”

Hyett can take a certain degree of satisfaction in knowing the experience he gained a week ago finishing runner-up in the LMP2 Pro-Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a template for tomorrow.

“Part of the reason we were on the podium at Le Mans is essentially our M.O. was no mistakes, keep the car in one piece,” he said. “I feel like that should be exactly our M.O. for tomorrow: Stay out of trouble. Obviously go as fast as you can but within your limits. . . If you keep your car in one piece, you can kind of automatically work your way towards the sharp end of the field by the end of it.”

Live coverage of Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen begins at 11 a.m. ET. USA Network will provide coverage from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with the entirety of the race streaming live on Peacock.