This past weekend, the teams of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT LeMans class took to the track for their 5th race of the 2014 season, this time taking on the turns of Watkin’s Glen in New York. Among the field of Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin race cars were two Chevrolet Corvette C7.R race cars and two of the “new” Dodge Viper GTS-R race cars. For the Vipers, the Watkin’s Glen race was about getting back into the hunt while the Corvette Racing team looked to score its third straight win.
In the end, both of the Detroit supercars achieved their goals with a Corvette Z06-based C7.R taking the class win and finished 4th in class while the Dodge Viper GTS-R teams claimed the second and third spot in the GTLM class.
For the Corvette Racing teams, the 6 hour race at Watkin’s Glen was a chance to make it three in a row and the teams didn’t waste any time in showing their hand. While the Corvette teams were in the bottom of the GTLM class in the first practice session, they made up for it in practice session #2 with the #3 Corvette being the fastest of the LeMans production based racers. The #3 Corvette piloted by Jan Magnusson and Antonio Garcia followed up that quick practice run with the fastest GTLM class time in qualifying, allowing the Corvette that has won each of the last two races to start at the front of the class. The #4 Corvette had a little tougher go of things early on, qualifying 7th in the 11 car class.
On the other hand, the “new” Dodge Viper GTS-R race cars weren’t not among the fastest cars in the GTLM class, but they were still able to tie down a 5th and 6th starting spot. It should be noted that the Watkin’s Glen race was the Viper’s first time on the track since the most recent round of “balance of performance adjustments”, with the SRT racing teams being permitted to lose the weight and the smaller engine air restrictor that they were burdened with earlier in the season.
In the early stages of the 6 hour race, the #4 Corvette that started 7th quickly worked its way up to the front of the field. For much of the race, the Corvette Racing teams ran 1-2, but the Dodge Viper teams were working their way up. For the first time all season, none of the Corvette or Viper teams ran into mechanical issues so the GTLM class ended up being a shootout between America’s favorite supercars.
In the end, the Vipers both snuck around the #4 Corvette and the #91 Viper was strong enough to challenge the #3 Corvette through the late stages of the race. The battle for the win went down to the last lap, with the #3 Corvette and the #91 Viper going head to head in a race to the checkered flag. The Corvette managed to hold off the Viper by a little more than a tenth of a second, giving the #3 Corvette its third straight GTLM class victory. The #91 Viper finished a close second while the #91 finished soundly in third, roughly three seconds back of the team car. The #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner finished in fourth place, roughly 1.7 seconds behind the 3rd place car and about 5 seconds back of the class winning #3 Corvette.
Following the dominating performance of the four American supercars, the Porsche entries in the class finished 5th, 8th and 9th, the BMW Z4 entries finished 6th and 10th, and the Ferrari teams finished 7th and 11th.