IMSA News Roundup: May 11, 2016

Please see attached press release, below is a text-only version.

IMSA News Roundup: May 11, 2016

Notebook Items Include: Ford Ganassi Drivers Pleased With Watkins Glen Repaving; Palttala Pleased With Progress Of BMW M6; Freedom Autosport Extends Record Winning Streak

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 11, 2016) – A number of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams took advantage of a break between races to test the newly repaved Watkins Glen International, which will host the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on July 3.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing tested its new Ford GT for the first time at the historic 3.4-mile circuit, joined by fellow GT Le Mans (GTLM) competitor BMW Team RLL, and GT Daytona (GTD) entrants Stevenson Motorsports and Turner Motorsport.

“This is one of my favorite race tracks in the world, and we’re lucky to have such great race tracks built on the topography of the land,” said Joey Hand, who tested the Ford GT with Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Dirk Muller. “You go around the world and not many race tracks like this are being built – especially the new ones. The fact that they put all this money into the repave is awesome, so we can keep coming back here for years to come.

“The new asphalt is flawless, and it’s going to make for some great racing. This track has always been great for racing, but now it will be better than normal for here. When it’s still rubbering in, you might have two grooves in some corners, and guys will be able to hang on the outside a little bit more when they’re dogfighting for position. I think you’re going to have more spectacular racing here at Watkins Glen.”

Briscoe brings plenty of IndyCar and sports car success to The Glen. He won a pair of IndyCar poles for Penske Racing in 2008 and 2009, finishing second for the team in 2009 and 2010 in addition to taking third for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2006. He raced twice for Wayne Taylor SunTrust Racing in 2006, placing second and third in a Pontiac Riley co-driven by Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli.

“This has always been my favorite race track to go to,” Briscoe said. “It’s so fast and rewarding; exhilarating. I love the high-speed corners. It’s so smooth, it’s got the new surface all the way around – you don’t have the concrete patches anymore. It’s going to have a high level of grip, and I think you’ll probably see some new track records.”

Westbrook is seeking his third consecutive victory at The Glen, having won overall in both 2014 and 2015 in Visit Florida Racing’s No. 90 Corvette DP.

“This will be very different,” Westbrook said. “I’ve had two very good years here with Visit Florida Racing. I’m in a different class and a completely different car, and the track here is a lot different now. I had a few laps, and it’s quick – really quick. When people get here for the first time on race weekend, it’s going to raise some eyebrows when they go out for their first lap. They’ve done an incredible job. Everybody loves this track, but everyone is going to love it a bit more now.”

Turner Motorsport Looks To Improve On Solid WGI Resume

Turner Motorsport won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2014 with Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron sharing the team’s No. 94 BMW Z4. Last year, Palttala and Michael Marsal led the race before it started raining. The team took both of its new-for-2016 BMW MG GT3 cars to Monday’s private test at the circuit, with Palttala and Marsal in the No. 97 Alvarez & Marsal/IHG Rewards Club entry, and the team feels it can built on that success with the new car.

“It was a very useful day and we made good progress,” Palttala said. “The biggest difference is the added grip of the new tarmac. Our M6 liked it and handled better than in the previous rounds. We’ve had great success at Watkins Glen before. I loved the track to start with – it’s a very cool layout and has a great rhythm – but now with the new surface, it’s simply awesome.”

Freedom Autosport Extends Record Continental Tire Challenge Winning Streak

Freedom Autosport set the record for consecutive IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge victories at a single venue back in 2014, when Andrew Carbonell and Randy Pobst gave the team its fourth straight triumph at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The team has continued to make winning a habit at Mazda’s namesake track. Carbonell took his third straight at the circuit in 2015, when he won with Liam Dwyer in the No. 26 SemperFiFund.org Mazda MX-5.

Carbonell’s personal winning streak came to an end with a second place-finish in the recent event, but Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer won in the team’s No. 25 ModSpace Mazda MX-5 to extend the record to six consecutive victories.

“We’ve been fighting with Freedom Autosport the last three years to get a win at Mazda Raceway, so when we joined Freedom, we knew they had strong cars,” said McAleer, who shared the 2015 ST championship with McCumbee for CJ Wilson Racing in 2015. “Winning here is a very special moment for us. Freedom did an amazing job getting the car where it needed to be.”

For Carbonell, it was his sixth consecutive podium finish for Freedom Autosport at Mazda Raceway with a season-best second-place showing with Dwyer.

“The winning streak continued for Freedom, and the podium streak continued for me,” said Carbonell. “It was a great race – Freedom Autosport always gives us such a great car. This was actually a new car, and to get it together in only two 45-minute practice sessions was pretty impressive.”

End Quote:

Mike Hull, Team Manager, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing: “What Watkins Glen has done to improve the racing with the repave is terrific. It enhances the value to the fans, the teams, and the drivers. Both our 66 and 67 Ford GTs ran throughout the day with a concentration of being ready to compete on the Fourth of July weekend. Being able to test in advance of the Sahlen’s Six Hour event was important to the measured progress of our Ford GT effort. In addition, being able to include historically significant places like The Glen represents the past, present, and future of the North American IMSA series.”

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