IMSA will stage the third big endurance race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season this weekend at Watkins Glen International. The Six Hours of The Glen will see Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander and Jeff Westphal co-drive the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 in the GT Daytona class.
The trio scored third in the Sebring 12 Hour in March, and will target more podium results to close out the second half of the 2019 Endurance Cup events (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Petit Le Mans).
Two of the Ferrari drivers will arrive in upstate New York carrying the momentum of a Le Mans 24 Hour podium result as MacNeil and Vilander joined Rob Smith in finishing third in the LMGTE Am category in the recent French endurance classic, sharing the WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE.
“Our WeatherTech Ferrari ran a flawless race and the drivers didn’t put a wheel off over the 24 hours,” MacNeil said. “The strategy and pit stops were great by the Scuderia Corsa team as well. I’m excited about the 6 Hour-the 3.4-mile and 11-turns should suit our WeatherTech Racing Ferrari. The Ferrari is a great handling car and together with the Scuderia Corsa guys we should be able to dial it right into the track. Toni and I are coming off of a lot of laps at Le Mans and third place run. We need to convert that performance to the rest of the IMSA schedule.”
“Watkins Glen is a very fast track,” Vilander said. “The key to a fast lap is to have a good exit off Turn 11 all the way to the Bus Stop. We will have to have a WeatherTech Ferrari that is free through the Esses as well as able to handle the tight Boot section. We need to get our IMSA season back on track after a tough DNF at Detroit.”
The WeatherTech Ferrari is third in the battle for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup title, trailing the leader by just seven points. After Watkins Glen, the season-ending Petit Le Mans is the final event in the unique championship comprising the four longest events on the WeatherTech Championship schedule.
Ferrari Has Rich History in Six Hours
The Six Hours joined the Watkins Glen schedule in 1968, then part of the World Manufacturers Championship for international sports cars. Charlie Kolb and Richard Rodriguez took a class victory in the inaugural race in a Ferrari Dino, while Mario Andretti and Ignazio Giunti were third overall in 1970, sharing a Ferrari 512S.
Mark Donohue captured the pole in 1971, co-driving Roger Penske’s Ferrari 512M. Donohue and co-driver David Hobbs battled with Mario Andretti and Jackie Ickx in a factory Ferrari 512M throughout the opening stages of the event, but both cars exited while leading with mechanical problems.
In 1972, Ferrari captured the fifth running of the Six Hours, when Andretti and Ickx came back to win in a Ferrari 312P. Ickx beat out the similar factory entry shared by Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken after taking the lead only eight laps from the checkered flag. Ickx returned the following year to finish second with Brian Redman, one position ahead of teammates Arturo Merzario and Carlos Pace.
After urging Watkins Glen International officials to “bring back the Six Hours,” longtime Ferrari driver Gianpiero Moretti won the revival of the event in 1996 – co-driving the Momo Ferrari 333SP with Italian newcomer Max Papis in an IMSA GTP race. The following year, Eliseo Salazar and Rob Morgan took second, sharing a Ferrari 333SP. Moretti, Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys won the 1998 event under USRRC sanction, sharing the Momo Ferrari 333SP.
Ferrari took its fourth overall triumph in the Six Hours in 2001, with Theys, Baldi and Fredy Leinhard co-driving the Lista Doran Racing Ferrari 333SP. With Daytona Prototypes taking over the top class in 2003, Ferrari continued to run competitively in the GT class. Cort Wagner and Bill Auberlen won GT in the Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Ferrari 360GT in 2003, with Wagner and Brent Martini returning to finish second in the 2004 event in addition to winning the August race on the short course.
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice for the GTD class gets underway Friday with one-hour sessions at 10:40 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. (all times ET). Saturday has final practice at 8 a.m., with GTD qualifying at 11:35 a.m. The Six Hours of The Glen takes the green flag on Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. The race will be televised on NBCSN on Sunday, from, 7-10 p.m. ET.