Watkins Glen 6 Hour 2021

Bill Auberlen Scores Win #64

The #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 won the GTD class in the IMSA WeatherTech Series six-hour race at Watkins Glen on June 27, while the #24 and #25 BMW Team RLL M8 GTEs finished second and third in the GTLM class.

The #96 M6 GT3, driven by Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, and Aidan Read, recovered from an early fueling problem that dropped it back in the back, and then benefited from a well-timed final pit stop, as Auberlen took over just before the last full-course yellow came out. The stop moved the Turner M6 GT3 to the front of the class in the competitive GTD pack. Auberlen held off all competitors to secure the class victory and score his 64th win, once again breaking his record for the most wins in IMSA competition.

John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, and Augusto Farfus in the #24 Team RLL M8 GTE and Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler, and Philipp Eng in car #25 battled with the #3 and #4 Corvettes throughout the race. The fifth car in the class, the #79 Porsche 911 RSR, exited the race early when a fire broke out in the left rear of the car after it made contact with the wall. Cooper MacNeil got the car to pit road, not knowing the extent of the growing fire, and then exited quickly.

The #3 Corvette driven by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor won the class, with John Edwards in #24 making a strong challenge from second late in the race. De Phillippi moved the #25 car into third with a last-lap pass on Nick Tandy in the #4 Corvette that he shared with Tommy Milner.

Edwards said, “That was really close in the end. I gave it everything and managed to overtake one Corvette. I was also able to put pressure on the other, but it managed to find a bit more speed when I was right behind it. So second place it is. The battle was fun, but the result is a little bittersweet. However, to be honest, at the halfway point of the race I did not think we had any chance at all against the Corvettes.”

Auberlen said, “Today was simply our day. We were actually no longer in our planned fueling rhythm after a problem during refueling. However, the yellow phase began exactly at the moment in which we had come in for our final stop. We came out, and all the GTD cars in front of us still had to come into the pits. That put me in front and I just had to keep it clean through to the finish. It worked out superbly.”

On the day before the six-hour race, Auberlen and Dillon Machavern in the #95 Turner Motorsport M4 GT4 finished second overall and second in Grand Sport in the four-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Auberlen led until Stevan McAleer in the #23 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 passed him just 3.5 minutes before the end of the race. Robby Foley and Vin Barletta in the second Turner M4 GT4 finished fifteenth.

Both the WeatherTech Series and the Michelin Pilot Challenge return to the Glen next weekend. The Turner team will be there, while Team RLL, running only the WeatherTech Series’ four long enduros this year, will return to competition in the ten-hour Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta in November.—Brian Morgan

[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]

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