Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

Mazda Leads Halfway Point at Watkins Glen Six Hour

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

WATKINS GLEN, New York — It has been a Mazda Team Joest show up front at the Sahlen’s Six Hours as the Japanese manufacturer seeks their first win in the DPi era of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The Nos. 55 and 77 RT24-P machines have swapped the lead during pit stop cycles and at one point had lapped all the way up to sixth place in the first half of the race.

The race had a difficult time getting started as Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette had brief contact with a GTLM Porsche and spun across the exit of the esses. The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 barely clipped the spinning Corvette but Ben Keating wasn’t so lucky in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports AMG Mercedes GT3 as he hit the Corvette and spun against the guardrail. The Mercedes and the Corvette were out on the spot.

On the first green flag lap after the restart, the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi had a rear tire puncture that caused the car to spin while overtaking the sister No. 5 car. Another full course yellow was called to retrieve the Cadillac.

After the race resumed, the Mazda entries went away from the field until the next full course yellow for contact between the No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini and the No. 84 JDC Motorsports Cadillac DPi.

In GTLM and GTD the class battles have been close. In GTLM,  the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entries were fighting hard with the BMWs and the remaining Corvette with no manufacturer having real dominance. However, at the three hour mark, the No. 911 Porsche was leading the GTLM class.

GTD has seen a split strategy take place. Several cars pitted under the second full course yellow and have cycled to the lead after being off of the traditional pit sequence. At the three hour mark, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 was leading GTD over the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Mazda may pick up their first win but we still have three hours left to race.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.