Nasr, Cameron Find Porsche Redemption at Watkins Glen

By John Oreovicz

IMSA Wire Service

It’s fair to say that Porsche Penske Motorsport had the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen circled on the 2024 calendar.

A year ago, the team’s No. 6 Porsche 963 crossed the line first in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class at the annual six-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance contest at Watkins Glen International, only to have the victory rescinded because the car’s chassis skid plate (a measure of ground clearance) was less than one millimeter out of legal tolerance.

That made Porsche Penske Motorsport’s 1-3 GTP finish in this year’s Sahlen’s Six Hours all the more satisfying, with the No. 7 Porsche driven by Felipe Nasr and Dane Cameron notching the win Sunday and Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy (who forfeited the trophy in ’23) claiming a visit to the podium in the No. 6.

Nasr and Cameron won by 0.749 seconds over the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R shared by Renger van der Zande and Sebastien Bourdais. Louis Deletraz and Jordan Taylor claimed fourth place in the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06.

“For sure, I think the No. 6 guys were motivated to right that wrong, and for us, we knew it was an opportunity to get a win in this summer stretch of races we targeted as being good for our car,” said Cameron, a three-time champion in IMSA competition. “It was really critical to us to get this win.”

The race was restarted under caution with 42 minutes remaining following a 40-minute red flag for heavy rain that left standing water on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn road course. After running several laps behind the safety car, the track dried sufficiently for all competitors to use slick, dry-condition Michelin tires.

The green flag waved with just over 16 minutes to go. As with the original race start, Deletraz struggled to work his tires up to working temperature and was quickly overtaken by Nasr and van der Zande. Then, Jaminet slipped past Deletraz at Turn 6 and the Porsches really began to show their speed, with Nasr and Jaminet exchanging fastest laps and van der Zande keeping pace.

In the last five minutes, Nasr was finally able to pull out a more comfortable two-second cushion over the Cadillac before easing up at the finish. It was the fifth podium finish in six races this year for Cameron and Nasr.

“It was pretty wild out there,” Nasr said. “I have to say that these mixed conditions always make our life a lot harder to read track grip. But I knew I was going to have one chance, and that one chance came right at the restart. I could see as soon as we got the ‘get-go’ at the last corner the car ahead of me struggle and I said, ‘Man, I’m going for it.’ Made the move stick, and then it was all about managing the traffic. You have to make smart moves.

“I’m very happy we did it,” he added. “At points in the race, we were in the back and then forward again, and it was difficult to read the potential of the car. Everybody did incredible work to keep us calm and made wise decisions, and Dane did amazing work as well. Everything just came together and I’m very pleased to get another victory here at Watkins Glen.

Van der Zande did all he could to catch Nasr in the closing stages but had to settle for second-place points.

“It was one of those typical IMSA races where everything can happen,” van der Zande said. “I think we were doing OK until the rain came. But after the restart, it was very clear from the get-go every time I went to the power, I didn’t have the power to attack. I’m not complaining, because we’re taking a load of points home to go into the final rounds of the championship.”

The Watkins Glen podium mirrored the top three in the GTP standings after six of nine races, with Nasr and Cameron extending their margin over Bourdais and van der Zande to 93 points and to 132 over Jaminet and Tandy.

“It’s been a great year so far – very, very consistent,” Cameron said. “I think that has been the focus for the No. 7 car, just to execute at every opportunity. I felt at Detroit we had one get away from us, but we also kind of overachieved at other rounds where we weren’t that great. That’s what it takes to win this championship. We really believe in that formula and we’re committed to it.”

Richard Mille AF Corse Team Notches First LMP2 Win

More than three months had passed since the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class was in action at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac, so the 13 class entries were raring to go at Watkins Glen.

The changing conditions throughout the Sahlen’s Six Hours made it a difficult race to strategize for competitors, but the No. 88 Richard Mille AF Corse team parlayed a timely pit stop to set up drivers Luis Perez Companc, Nicklas Nielsen and Lilou Wadoux for their first WeatherTech Championship victory.

The No. 88 ORECA LMP2 07 was on the correct slick tires and fueled to make the finish when the red flag for heavy rain suspended the six-hour race near the end. When racing resumed, Nielsen – who also scored the overall win a week ago in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – crossed the line ahead of the No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR ORECA by 38.453 seconds. However, the No. 04 was penalized for a drive-time infraction, handing second place to the No. 74 Riley ORECA and drivers Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Josh Burdon.

Wadoux became the first female race winner in WeatherTech Championship competition since Katherine Legge in 2018.

“The start of year was very difficult, with an issue at Daytona and contact and a fire at Sebring,” said Wadoux. “So, it’s good to finish the race and be in the top place. It was not an easy race with tricky conditions, but the team and my co-drivers did an amazing job and the car was amazing.”

“It’s been a good couple of weeks, I would say, and I’m happy to take my maiden win in IMSA,” added Nielsen. “It’s a super competitive championship. We’ve been fast the whole season, just a bit unlucky. I’m happy to bounce back here, and coming fresh from a victory at Le Mans makes this even better.”

Next up for the LMP2 class is the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park from July 12-14. The GTP and LMP2 classes will both be in action at the IMSA Sports Car Weekend at Road America, Aug. 1-4.