IMSA WeatherTech: Victory and 100% Ligier JS P320 podium at Watkins Glen!
27th June 2021 – Yet another success for the Ligier JS P320 in the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, fifth round of the American IMSA WeatherTech Championship. While #2 entered by United Autosports clinched pole position on its first outing of the year in the US championship, #74 run by Riley Motorsports took victory from CORE Autosport's #54 and #91 also entered by Riley Motorsports.
The first free practice session on Friday 25th June kick-started the race weekend. The #36 Andretti Autosport's Ligier JS P320 driven by Jarett Andretti, Oliver Askew and Marco Andretti's lap in 1:40.812s was good enough to top the time sheets. The next day it was bested by Riley Motorsports' #74 crewed by Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga and Scott Andrews who lapped the Watkins Glen circuit in a time of 1:39.937s in the second free practice session.
Next challenge for the field was qualifying. The #2 United Autosports Ligier JS P320 in the hands of Niklas Kruetten, Edouard Cauhaupe and Austin McCusker, a former Ligier JS F4 driver, shone on its first outing of the year in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship by snatching pole position thanks to its quickest lap in 1:40.404s. Joining it on the front row was Andretti Autosport's #36.
The race started at 10:40 on Sunday 27th June. The #74 Riley Motorsports' Ligier JS P320 that had started in sixth place had fought its way up to third after the second hour. It went on the take the lead in the third hour fighting for first place with its sister car #91 crewed by Jim Cox, Dylan Murry and Jeroen Bleekemolen. This long duel ended in the fifth hour marked by yellow flags. On lap 165, #74 retook the lead and saw the chequered flag in first place.
The #91 Ligier JS P320 run by Riley Motorsports also put on a great performance as it started in seventh spot and finished on the third step of the podium. Unlike its rivals, #91 decided not to stop at the pits after the deployment of the yellow flags 50 minutes before the end of the race. But despite its best efforts, it was overtaken by its sister car #74 and then by CORE Autosport's #54.
The #54 CORE Autosport Ligier JS P320 that qualified third showed great consistency in the race. It yo-yoed between second and third places in the classification despite contact with an LMP2 shortly after its first pit stop that damaged the car's nose. At first look the damage to the front end didn't look too serious, but it handicapped #54 which just missed out on victory although it still managed to secure its second spot on the podium. Bronze drivers Jon Bennett and George Kurtz both put on excellent performances showing good pace and good traffic management.
The #36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320 in second place on the grid went into the lead two hours after the start and battled for first place with #2 run by United Autosports. It finished just shy of the podium in fourth spot and set the fastest lap of the race in 141.160s.
The #2 Ligier JS P320 entered by United Autosports that started from pole position took the lead briefly early on in the race. But an electrical problem followed by a spin and contact with another car sent it tumbling down the classification. Despite losing a lap it remained in the running and came home in fifth place.
On its first outing in IMSA WeatherTech, #84 entered by Dawson Racing crewed by Theodor Olsen, Dominic Cicero and Ben Devlin made a flying start and passed several rivals during the first stint. Even though the team saw the flag in sixth place it showed that it will be a force to be reckoned with. #38 run by Performance Tech Motorsports and driven by Dan Goldburg, Mateo Llarena and Rasmus Lindh, which started in fourth place, had to retire an hour after the race started due to contact caused by heavy traffic.
The Riley Motorsports team's #74 Ligier JS P320 currently leads the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a total of 1090 points. Its second car, #91, is third in the classification with 970 points just behind #54 entered by CORE Autosport with 1040 points. The provisional classification of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup that comprises the four endurance races (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and the Michelin Raceway) is the same.
To consult the provisional classification of the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, CLICK HERE.
To consult the provisional classification of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, CLICK HERE.
To consult the provisional classification of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, CLICK HERE.
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will once again take place at Watkins Glen on July 1 and 2 for the WeatherTech 240.
Photo credit: Jake Galstad