Tire strategy a factor in Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen
Both Continental slick and wet tires were in heavy rotation throughout the GRAND-AM race weekend at Watkins Glen International. With just over one hour to go in Sunday’s Rolex Series race, the decision to race on wet or slick tires was never so important.
When a brief shower soaked the track, teams that stayed on wet tires regretted the decision as the track dried out within two green flag laps and those teams were back down pit road for slicks.
With Joao Barbosa behind the wheel, the No. 5 Action Express Corvette team came down pit road for Continental wet tires as the rain began to fall, along with several other DP teams.After returning to the track and running most of the caution period on wet tires, the team returned to pit road for slick tires for the restart, while others did not.The green flag waved and within two laps the track was dried out and the No. 5 Corvette patiently worked their way back to the front.In the final stint, Christian Fittipaldi used every inch of the 11-turn road course to hold off Michael Valiante in the No. 3 8 Star Motorsports Corvette edging him out by a mere .265 seconds, the second closest finish in the races history.
“This racetrack it’s unbelievable, it’s so slick in the rain but it dries up so quickly and we spent almost all the rain period on rain tires under the safety car which was crazy,“ said Barbosa after the race. “We put just the slick tires on before the restart and it was still a little bit damp but the tires worked out great. I’m very, very impressed with the Continental tires, at least with our case, our fastest lap times were coming at the end of the stint so they were holding on really, really good.”
The Grand Touring (GT) teams were forced into a similar decision as the DP teams – put on wet tires and gamble on more rain, or put on slicks and hope the track dries out.The Stevenson Motorsports team opted for slick tires and under the guidance of Robin Liddell, John Edwards navigated the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R around the track in ultra-slick conditions.Liddell encouraged Edwards to be patient and slow down if need be as they waited for the track to dry out.Liddell was right.Teams on wet tires made an extra stop and Edwards moved back to the front of the field before handing off driving duties to Liddell to bring the No. 57 across the line for their second win in a row at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
“I don’t think anyone understands how treacherous or how hard it is to drive the car like that,“ said Liddell. “I knew that was really, really tough for him (John Edwards). I was trying to say to Mike (Johnson) on the stand, just keep him cool, just tell him he can slow down its fine, let’s just keep cool and relax because it will come back to us.“
The No. 00 Visit Florida Racing/Speedsource Mazda 6 GX team captured their third win of the 2013 season.Joel Miller, Tristan Nunez and Yojiro Terada shared driving duties to lead a total of 101 laps on the day.
The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series was nothing short of spectacular Saturday afternoon.The 57-car field started on Continental slick tires under dry conditions but with less than one-half hour to go, the skies opened up and cars began sliding everywhere.Two cars went upside down while numerous cars slid off track, including the leaders in the Street Tuner (ST) class.All drivers walked away while some teams came down pit road for the ExtremeContact wet tires, and others stayed out on slick tires.
Following a lengthy caution, the field went green for one final lap and neither, the Grand Sport (GS), or ST class, left anything on the table.Bryan Sellers piloted the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 to the win with co-driver Mark Boden.The duo ran the entire 50-lap race on one set of slick Continental tires.In the ST class, Stevan McAleer barley edged out Ryan Eversley in the No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 for the win.McAleer and co-driver Marc Miller captured their second win of the 2013 season.One interesting note, the top-three ST finishers remained on slick tires for the duration of the race.
“The tires were so good that the Continental slicks are better in the rain than I’m sure other rain tires are because the top three ST field ended up finishing on slicks,“ said Eversley, driver of the No. 75 Compass 360 Honda Civic Si, after the race.“They were fantastic!I’ve literally never gone that fast in wet weather before, especially on a slick tire, so that was huge!”
The GRAND-AM Series returns to the track at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26 for a double-header that includes the Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series.Fans can catch live coverage on SPEED and MRN.Check local listings for times.
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