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Pla sets record pace for Shank at Watkins Glen

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Pla sets record pace for Shank at Watkins Glen
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Jul 1, 2016, 10:49 PM

All four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar classes set unofficial record-breaking laps in practice for this weekend’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

#67 Ford Performance Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook
#55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Spencer Pigot, #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3: Bret Curtis, Jens Klingmann
#67 Ford Performance Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook
#55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Spencer Pigot
#5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP: Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi
#60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ligier JS P2 Honda: John Pew, Oswaldo Negri, Olivier Pla
#8 Starworks Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow
#3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, #912 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Earl Bamber, Fr_©d_©ric Makowiecki, #8 Starworks Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Renger van der Zande, Alex Popow
#6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3: Andrew Davis, Robin Liddell

Olivier Pla posted the fastest time of the day, running 1min36.155sec (127.2mph) in Michael Shank Racing’s Ligier Honda JS P2, on the back of co-driver Ozz Negri leading the morning session. Both of their best laps bettered the class record of 1:37.902 (125.023 mph), set in 2014.

Said Pla: “As soon as I did the track walk with John [Pew] and Ozz yesterday, I knew I was going to love the track.

“It’s a really fast track, and I love tracks with fast corners. You can really feel the G forces in your neck. It makes it fun to drive.

“The race will be very tough so we’ll have to be good on strategy and stay out of trouble and if we do that, I think we’ll be good.”

The Mazda Prototypes driven by Jonathan Bomarito and Bernard Devlin were second and fifth fastest respectively, although JB was over 0.75sec slower than Pla’s benchmark time. Between the maroon cars were Johannes van Overbeek in ESM Racing’s Ligier-Honda and Christian Fittipaldi in the fastest of the Corvette Daytona Prototypes.

Le Mans class winner Joey Hand topped the GT Le Mans class at WGI, with a lap of 1:43.309 (118.4 mph) in #66 Ganassi Ford GT, edging his teammate Richard Westbrook by mere hundredths of a second.

Westbrook a two-time winner at Watkins Glen in the prototype class, commented: ““This has always been a good track for me. It has a nice rhythm, nice flow, and a lot of history.

“Everyone on the team has had a little more spring in their step after Laguna [Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe gave the Ford GT its first victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May]. After that victory, we were confident going over to Le Mans – where we had two podium finishes – and now we’re looking forward to the remainder of the season.”

Third fastest was John Edwards in the BMW M6 run by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari 488 in fourth.

Defending Sahlen’s Six Hour Prototype Challenge (PC) winner Renger van de Zande led his class with a lap of 1:38.582 (124.1 mph) in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Alex Popow. Colin Braun was second in the No. 54 CORE autosport entry.

Stevenson Motorsports Audis ran 1-2 in GT Daytona (GTD). Robin Liddell clocked the best lap of the day in the opening session, 1:46.147 (115.3 mph) in the No. 6 Stevenson Auto Group Audi R8 LMS GT3 co-driven by Andrew Davis. Lawson Aschenbach led the afternoon session in the team’s No. 9 entry co-driven by Matt Bell, running 1:46.259 (115.1 mph).

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ESM's Pipo Derani leads final practice at Watkins Glen

ESM's Pipo Derani leads final practice at Watkins Glen
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