WATKINS GLEN: PRACTICE 2 & QUALIFYING REPORT
Friday morning's 45 minute practice session at Watkins Glen International saw both CJ Wilson Porsches take turns at the top of the time sheets with Tyler McQuarrie ultimately taking the top spot in the #35 New Balance/Safecraft Safety Equipment car ahead of teammate Marc Miller in the #33 ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters machine. To underline the Austin team's dominance of the session, Danny Burkett clocked the the third fastest time on the final lap of his stint in the #33 Cayman.
McQuarrie was happy with the changes that had been made to the car since Thursday's opening practice session. "The car from the very beginning has been up front, it has needed only small changes and those adjustments have really helped. I think there is even more time there which is very encouraging going into the race on Saturday."
The fifteen minute qualifying session began just as a rain shower was leaving the Watkins Glen area. The correct choice of Continental Tire became crucial. The crew waited until the very last minute before electing to run on slick tires. The decision proved to be the correct one as Danny Burkett initially broke the track record in a fantastic back and forth battle for pole position with Scott Maxwell in the Multimatic Shelby Mustang which ultimately went to the Ford driver by .084 seconds.
"It was extremely exciting, the conditions were very challenging and it was a last minute call to qualify on slicks" explained the 21 year old Canadian. "We got out about half a lap late but that that didn’t affect our pace too much. It became a lap-by-lap battle with Scott and there were times when I had to take some deep breaths and tell myself ‘you got this, you can make it happen’. I made one small mistake at the last corner other than that we had a really good shot at getting pole."
For Till Bechtolsheimer, qualifying was another chance to get more valuable track time at a circuit that is completely new to the Englishman. "I feel like I could have gone quicker, I did a decent job early on in the session getting to a reasonable pace quickly but then it started spitting towards the end and it was tough to have the confidence that the grip was going to be there to do a really fast time," Till explained. The Manhattan resident was pipped for third spot by a scant 0.05 seconds. "I was disappointed to lose third right at the end but all in I was happy and the car was handling really well so I know we made good changes from a setup standpoint."
McQuarrie is excited by the progress of his rookie teammate in the #35 car. "Over the last three races, I have been hugely impressed with Till and his ability to get used to the track because this is the third consecutive circuit that he is seeing for the first time. Every track we go to he gets up to speed faster and faster. We have not had that much time here, just two practice sessions and that is about 30 minutes of track time for him. He went out in qualifying conditions that were super tricky, it was one of those deals where we all sitting there wondering which way to go. I’m really excited for our chances tomorrow and I’m hoping that Marc and I can be dicing it up again at the end."
Round 4 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Continental 150 at the Glen, takes place at 12:25pm on Saturday, July 2nd. You can watch the race live via www.imsa.com or using the new IMSA App. You can also listen via IMSA Radio on www.radiolemans.com. For lap-by-lap updates please follow the Official CJ Wilson Racing Twitter feed @CJWilsonRacing.