Race Weekend Central

Olivier Pla Quickest in Watkins Glen WeatherTech Rain Practice

In the third practice for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Olivier Pla was quickest with a lap of 108.566 seconds (112.742 mph). His lap was nearly 20 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the weekend that Pipo Derani set on Friday.

There was a very good reason why the speeds were so slow.  Rain.  There was a period of heavy rain at the 3.4-mile layout, that lasted up until about 15 minutes before the start of practice.  By the time the session started, the rain had stopped and there were breaks in the clouds.  That did not last very long.  A short time later, the clouds returned and rain began to fall once again.

Pla’s lap was seven-tenths of a second faster than Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi in second.  Visit Florida Racing’s Renger van der Zande was quickest for much of the session before dropping back to third late. Marino Franchitti was fourth quickest in the No. 70 Mazda, while Tequila Patron ESM’s Johannes van Overbeek was fifth.

In Prototype Challenge, Performance Tech Motorsports was fastest once again.  However, it was Kyle Masson that set the best time with a lap of 112.467 seconds (108.832 mph), good for eighth overall.  It was a good move for Masson to get some time in the slippery conditions given his Prototype Challenge responsibilities.  Masson was nearly seven seconds quicker than Danny Burkett in the No. 20 for BAR1 Motorsports.

Rain often resulted in a jumbled speed chart and Practice No. 3 was no exception.  Tristan Vautier in the GT Daytona-class Mercedes-AMG GT3 for SunEnergy1 Racing was faster than any of the GT Le Mans entries.  Vautier’s lap of 113.187 seconds (108.140 mph) was fastest in GT Daytona and good enough for 10th overall.  Vautier was nine-tenths of a second faster than Change Racing’s Corey Lewis.  Stevenson Motorsports’ Lawson Aschenbach was third in class, but behind the top three GT Le Mans entries in his Audi.  Sage Karam was fourth quickest in the No. 14 Lexus, while Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers was fifth.

In GT Le Mans, Porsche GT Team’s Laurens Vanthoor made good use of his wet weather experience from back in his native Belgium to be fastest.  Vanthoor’s lap of 114.422 seconds (106.972 mph) was over a second faster than Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen.  Ryan Briscoe was third quickest in the No. 67 Ford, followed by teammate Joey Hand.  Tommy Milner was fifth in the No. 4 Corvette.

Despite the tricky conditions on-track, there were no red flags during the race and next to no spins.  However, there were plenty of twitches.

Results of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen Practice No. 3

Qualifying for the Sahlen’s Six Hours at the Glen is scheduled for 11:40 a.m. Saturday.  It can be seen on IMSA.com or FansChoice.tv.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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