Bill Auberlen in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 finished just .676 seconds behind GTD class winner Mario Farnbacher in the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX in the IMSA six-hour race at Watkins Glen on June 30. The #24 Team RLL M8 GTE driven by John Edwards and Jesse Krohn finished fifth in the GTLM class, while their teammates Tom Blomqvist and Connor de Phillippi were classified seventh after a late-race pit fire during refueling ended their day. The GTLM class win went to Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche; it was the fourth consecutive win for Porsche.
Both of the M8s ran competitive times, running at the front of the GTLM pack during a few instances. But the #24 car, which ran a clean race, fell back in the order near the end. The team will be working long hours to repair #25, as the series runs again next weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Edwards said afterward, “We ran at the front in the beginning of the race. It was promising with how close everyone’s pace was but we just lost some time at some points throughout the race. At a track like Watkins Glen, where everyone is very fast, it can be hard to gain that time back. So looking at the pace of the car we are definitely disappointed to finish fifth. Things are close here and CTMP is a similar track so we expect to be close there as well. Everyone seems to be on pace so we just need to minimize mistakes there.”
The Turner M6 GT3 ran a strong race, with Dillon Machevern and Robby Foley running in the top five most of the way. The car was hit soon after Auberlen took over; he fell back, but made a strong recovery to challenge the Acura for the win.
Auberlen said, “More than fighting for a win or for a record, I really wanted to get a podium for this team. It has been a long dry spell and we really needed it. We had the car to win for sure today. The car was basically running in second all day but as soon as I got in, I go one lap and suddenly get hit. The tire blows up and that puts us back to dead last so we had to claw our way back up one by one. Without that contact we probably would have had a stress-free cruise to the end. I am glad we got one on the board this season and I always say once you find your way to the podium it’s easier to find your way back again. Now that we’ve been there, we have the smell and taste of it and we love it. We’re going to get back. CTMP is a track we love. It really suits the car and I can’t wait to get into the car next weekend.”—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport]