The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge entrants had one 45 minute session on the brand new surface at Watkins Glen International on Thursday. For almost everyone, it was a chance to get to grips with the new characteristics of the classic Upstate New York track. 

CJ Wilson Racing is running two cars this weekend for the now usual pairings of Danny Burkett and Marc Miller in the #33 ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters Cayman alongside Tyler McQuarrie and Till Bechtolsheimer in their #35 New Balance/Safecraft Safety Equipment example. 

The #35 car was quickest of the pair finishing P4 in the opening session while the #33 car was two places further back in 6th. While Danny Burkett has experience here in both Formula Atlantic and in IMSA's LMPC class, he feels like the combination of the new car and surface have made him feel like a raw rookie again. "First time on the track in a GT car was good and definitely very different from the Atlantic and LMPC cars I have driven here in the past. I would almost say it is like learning a brand new circuit."

Burkett's teammate Marc Miller in the #33 is excited about the resurfacing project. "The track is fantastic, it has exceeded expectations on how it feels compared to last year. It hasn’t lost any of its heart and soul which is great, it’s now faster and more consistent now with the new blacktop."

The 3.4 mile eleven turn layout is a brand new challenge for Till Bechtolsheimer in the #35 Cayman, the same one he has faced at every event this year. "Like every other track this season, Watkins Glen is completely new to me. I only spent about 25 minutes on the track today but I think this may end up being my favorite of the circuits here in the US. There is a ton of elevation change and it has a really nice feel to it, it’s exciting to have to get close to the walls on the exit of some of the corners and it’s just really a lot of fun to drive."

Miller echoed every driver's sentiments as we head into Friday's early morning practice session when he said "We still need to make improvements to the balance of the car but we are going in the right direction." 

Declan Brennan