IRON LYNX AND IRON DAMES’ VICTORY HOPES DASHED DESPITE BLISTERING PACE AT WATKINS GLEN
On Sunday, 25 June the Iron Lynx and Iron Dames teams took to the historic Watkins Glen International circuit for the third race of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The 2023 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen had it all for the Iron Lynx and Iron Dames teams. Battles for the class lead in both GTD and GTD Pro as well as sensational comeback drives kept the teams, and indeed the fans on their toes. With the threat of rain looming, no one could predict quite what would transpire at Watkins Glen.
Both teams utilised the rapid pace of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 in their respective categories, with Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper at the wheel of the #63 Iron Lynx machine in GTD Pro and Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Doriane Pin driving the #83 Iron Dames car in the GTD class.
Following an exceptional qualifying which saw Doriane starting third for Iron Dames, she maintained her position through the early laps, but an early Full Course Yellow would prove problematic. The #83 team opted to pit just before the pitlane closed, meaning a penalty had to be served that dropped her to P10 for the restart.
Once racing got back underway, Pin began her comeback drive. Having completed two hours of running, Doriane held second and when the lead GTD Lexus pitted, she upped the pace with the aim of an overcut. Her efforts paid off and when Michelle emerged from the pits, the #83 had taken the lead.
During her initial stint, a sensor briefly registered a figure under the minimum tyre pressure limit and as a result, Michelle had to complete a mandatory stop, dropping out of the lead and back to ninth. With two-and-a-half hours remaining, the out-of-sequence Gatting had recovered to the lead once again but when the Safety Car made another appearance, the #83 car pitted and dropped back to eighth, at which point Rahel took over.
Early in Rahel’s stint, she fell back to P10, but an extended final stint saw her climb the order and with an hour to go, she was in third position. She re-joined eighth after another stop and with half an hour remaining, she was closing on fourth. Rahel handed the reigns back to Doriane in the final moments of the race, after struggling with the heat in the car. The French driver was P16 when she got back out on track but was denied the opportunity to make up positions by a late race Safety Car.
A similarly impressive qualifying for the #63 Iron Lynx car meant Jordan launched from second on the grid, and negotiated the race’s early stages at the head of the GTD Pro field. Having pitted just in time for the Full Course Yellow, he was second in class with an hour notched. An hour later, he handed over to team mate Andrea.
The Italian emerged from the pits at Watkins Glen just behind the #14 Lexus and remained in close proximity of the lead car for much of his time at the wheel, despite a brush with the GTP BMW car early in his first stint.
With two-and-a-half hours still on the clock, Andrea maintained the gap to the lead at around half a second. Shortly after, his race would come to an abrupt end as the #63 machine was caught in a four-car, race-ending pile-up with a fellow GTD and two LMP3s. Mercifully, he was unhurt following the incident.
Luck was not on the side of the Iron Lynx car, nor the Iron Dames team this time out, having fought at the top of both categories and each car displaying blistering pace for much of the 2023 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
Iron Lynx #63 – DNF (GTD Pro)
Iron Dames #83 – P16 (GTD)
The next race in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (11-14 October).
For the Iron Lynx team today we had the victory within our grasp, but it all came to nothing because of an unnecessary incident. We had been closely following the Lexus for most of the race and had a considerable advantage, so I’m confident we would have been in the fight at the end of the six hours.
The Iron Dames car was similarly unlucky. We found ourselves with tyre pressures that were too low by a very small amount. Unfortunately, with the highly changeable weather conditions, the sun alternating with completely overcast skies meant the temperature of the asphalt fluctuated by several degrees. This made it tricky to control the pressures accurately with many teams encountering the same problem. The good news is we were competitive with both cars so that gives us motivation for the Petit Le Mans later in the year.Iron Lynx Team Principal and CEO, Andrea Piccini