Watkins Glen International: Event Preview

This week sees the return of 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge America after a twelve-week Summer break. Rounds 9 and 10 of the Championship will be fought out on the 3.4 mile, eleven turn Watkins Glen International road course in Upstate New York.

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Gradient Racing’s Till Bechtolsheimer enters the weekend with a slender twelve point deficit to the GT3 Pro-Am Championship leaders, Racers Edge Motorsports. For the third consecutive event, the New York based Anglo-Swiss driver will compete alongside his longtime co-driver Marc Miller.

The mid-season break provided the teams with a number of opportunities to fine tune their programs for the stretch run to October’s finale and potential title showdown at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This included a recent multi-team test at Road America, the venue for Rounds eleven and twelve next month. The characteristics of the Wisconsin road course are such that some of the data can be applied to the Unit Nutrition Acura NSX GT3 Evo this weekend at the former home of the US Grand Prix.

Till Bechtolsheimer, #5 Unit Nutrition Acura NSX GT3 Evo

Till Bechtolsheimer, #5 Unit Nutrition Acura NSX GT3 Evo

“Watkins Glen is one of my favorite racetracks in the world,” declared Marc Miller. The driver from Holland, Michigan went on to characterize the historic road course as “high-grip, scenic and extremely fast, making it quite challenging physically and mentally.” Miller is also keenly aware that despite the progress made in testing, there is a lot more work to do if the team is to deliver a Pro-Am Championship for his teammate. “I am also feeling very good about the progress we have made with our Unit Nutrition Acura NSX GT3 EVO. We need to continue with strong results to give Till an opportunity to challenge for the title, but we have made great strides in terms of pace and I believe we can for race wins in the final races of 2019.”

Miller’s partner, Till Bechtolsheimer has taken a lot of confidence from the Road America test, earlier this month. “We were able to get a solid chunk of testing work done between Sonoma and Watkins Glen and I think we made a lot of progress there. This is absolutely my favorite track in the USA and I’m excited to see where we stack up this weekend.”

Andris Laivins, Team Manager, Gradient Racing

Andris Laivins, Team Manager, Gradient Racing

Team Manager, Andris Laivins is confident that his team will reap the benefits of the Summer testing program. “While we have been competitive this season, on more than one occasion it felt like we were still lacking something by race day. Thankfully Till and Marc had a chance to test early this month at Road America, and I believe we made some nice gains on that deficit, and hopefully we have turned the corner heading into the second half. Everyone on the team is switched-on; the championship is close, we have great drivers, and the car is handling better than ever, so we are planning to close the gap in New York (and escape the Texas heat for a while)”.

Races eleven and twelve take place at Watkins Glen International on August 31st and September 1st. The track action begins on Thursday, August 29th with a promoter test while official practice starts on Friday, August 30th at 12:00pm EST. You can watch the races live on the official series Youtube Channel. For full event coverage please follow Gradient Racing on Twitter at @GradientRacing, on Instagram at @gradientracing and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GradientRacing/.

Declan Brennan