IMSA Wire: IMSA WeatherTech 240 Notebook – The Glen’s Turn 9 Can Make or Break

Ricky Taylor Explains the Frustration-to-Reward Ratio of the Difficult Corner
WeatherTech Porsche Team Works Hard to Rebuild Car
Heart of Racing Team Aims to Keep Rolling

July 1, 2021
By Jeff Olson and Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – For Ricky Taylor, Watkins Glen International is all about one turn. Number 9. “It’s the most frustrating corner in the world,” Taylor said. “It’s uphill, over a crest, the rear is always moving all around a lot.” Turn 9 is a challenge for even the best racers and teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After an uphill climb from Turn 8 – the heel in the circuit’s storied “Boot” – drivers are forced to navigate a sharp left-hander as the car deals with a temporary loss of gravity and the driver deals with a temporary lack of vision. “It’s a compromise corner,” Taylor said. “You never set the car up there. The car is set up for the rest of the track. You get (to Turn 9) and it’s just a nightmare.” Taylor would know. He’s raced on Watkins Glen’s noteworthy 11-turn, 3.4-mile layout 12 times – winning in 2011 with Wayne Taylor Racing. He and WTR teammate Filipe Albuquerque will try for another trophy when Friday’s IMSA WeatherTech 240 at The Glen begins Friday at 6:10 p.m. ET. For all its sweeping speed, Watkins Glen is far more demanding and technical than it appears, Taylor said.  “It looks like the kind of track where you muscle it around and you just have to carry lots of speed,” Taylor said. “But there’s actually a lot of finesse to it – how you’re loading a car in certain places and not to overshoot a corner. In general, the frustrating parts (of the track) are also the most rewarding ones.”   For Taylor, that frustration/reward dynamic takes place in the offset apex of Turn 9, where gravity departs and uncertainty arrives. He and Albuquerque will try to keep the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 atop the WeatherTech Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) standings Friday by adding Watkins Glen to its previous 2021 conquests, Daytona International Speedway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For that to happen, the team’s approach to Turn 9 needs to be spot on. “When you nail it, man, it’s so satisfying,” Taylor said. “Oftentimes in qualifying, you’ll have a great lap going and that’s the corner that either makes or breaks it.” WeatherTech Championship qualifying streams live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold starting at 5:40 p.m. ET Thursday. Live race coverage on NBCSN begins at 6 p.m. Friday. 
WeatherTech Porsche Team Works Hard to Rebuild Car The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 will be back on track for the IMSA WeatherTech 240 despite sustaining significant damage from a fire that eliminated the car early in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday. The Proton Competition crew spent long hours rebuilding the car in the Watkins Glen paddock instead of opting for a backup chassis. “Obviously quite a lot of work to do after the damage, mostly just due to the fire,” said Matt Campbell, who’s sharing the car with Cooper MacNeil this week. “Thankfully, we had a few days to get it all sorted and the team didn’t have to rush anything. No major things (to replace) on the car, just a lot of little things like wiring and such regarding the engine looms. Everything’s prepared and ready to go.” The No. 79 was eliminated less than 10 minutes into Sunday’s race, missing the opportunity to log valuable track time. Campbell thinks the change in race time from midday for the Sahlen’s Six Hours to evening for the IMSA WeatherTech 240 – and potential rain – could provide an equalizer as the Porsche takes on the two Corvette Racing entries in GT Le Mans (GTLM). “The weather and track conditions will be completely different,” he said. “I think this will make it a little more equal with the Corvettes if the track is wet because everyone’s starting off with the same base and going into unknown conditions on the race weekend.” 
Heart of Racing Team Aims to Keep Rolling The No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 has been one of the hottest entries in GT Daytona (GTD). Dating to the middle of 2020, the No. 23 has finished in the top five in nine of the last 10 races. That includes a third-place finish on Sunday at The Glen, coming on the heels of a June 12 class victory at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit. Like this week’s IMSA WeatherTech 240, the Detroit race counts only toward the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup for non-endurance races. No. 23 co-drivers Ross Gunn and Roman De Angelis lead the Sprint Cup standings and are as intent on taking that title as any in the WeatherTech Championship. “All of the championships hold a high level of prestige,” said Gunn, the Aston Martin factory driver from Great Britain who became De Angelis’ full-season partner this year. “Especially coming from Europe, a lot of people in Europe look at the IMSA championship as one of the biggest championships in the world. “We take it very seriously every race. Every time we go on track, we want to do the best possible job. A lot of people look at the endurance championship as the big one because a lot of the big teams compete in it, but as we’re a full-season entrant, every championship that we take part in is of the utmost importance for us and we’re going to give it everything we can to get a great result in all three championships.”