Pit+Paddock Lands at Watkins Glen Tied for P5 at the IMPC Championship Midpoint

Photography: George Bucur

  • The Esses 120 at Watkins Glen is the fifth race in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) championship.
  • Watkins Glen International is a 3.377-mile, 11-turn clockwise circuit that formerly hosted the first Formula 1 United States Grand Prix.
  • After a P1 qualifying and strong top 5 points finish at Mid-Ohio, the #93 Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR climbed to P5 in the championship with higher ambitions in tow.

Although today’s Formula 1 calendar is well-known for its two United States races, COTA and Las Vegas, one venue trumps both for its F1 motorsport tenure: Watkins Glen. “The Glen” hosted an F1 contest for 20 consecutive years (1961-1980), and remains a destination for competitive road racing at nearly every level, including IMSA, which uses the track’s 3.377-mile, long course layout known as the “Boot”.

It almost seems intentional that the three races leading to the apex of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge championship are all known for their elevation changes and technical corners. Like the two previous contests at Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen—a legendary circuit nestled in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of upstate New York—is notably described as a rhythm track with high compression but boasts two fast straightaways, one to start the lap and one on the backside of the track after its signature Esses. Turn 1 is especially deceiving. It’s a fast, downhill braking zone providing ample opportunity to pass into Turn 2. The Esses would be relatively straight-forward, if not for its crests. These can easily unsettle the car, so proper commitment is key here.

The back side of the lap starts with another renowned passing opportunity between Turn 5 and 6 before another “up and down” section begins: a full commitment downhill braking zone shifts upward for Turn 7, then back down for a deceivingly sharp Turn 8. Turn 9 sweeps abruptly left with a blind apex that requires plenty of patience and precision since there’s very little margin at track out. From here, the circuit opens up onto the front straight and the cycle begins again.


Montreal Motorsport Group (MMG) relishes the short break between Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen; after clinching pole position in qualifying and finishing the last race in the top five, the team has plenty of momentum to carry forward. Its on-track success has also drawn it even with KMW Motorsports the IMPC championship. The two teams currently share P5, with plenty of opportunities for MMG and the #93 Pit+Paddock FL5 Civic Type R TCR to climb higher this weekend. It’s kept a steady barometer of progress during each round and the team believes there is more in store for the races to come.

Setup is key for Watkins Glen because of its unique blend of track characteristics; maneuverability and agility are required through the technical twists, but without sacrificing straight-line speed for the track’s long straights. Tire management and strategic use of the curbs will be tangential focus points to ensure we make the most out of each driver’s stints.

“Watkins Glen is another high-speed, flowing layout which I like,” said Yoshihara. “We’re halfway through the season after this round, so I’m looking forward to getting some great results before heading into the second half of the season!” Wittmer’s experience and smooth driving will prove useful here and, as ever, he’s looking forward to another race weekend, especially with a Mid-Ohio pole position in the bag. Hopefully, the MMG team will make it three-in-a-row for P1 starts. The Yoshihara/Wittmer combo is now tied for 5th in the overall championship, with 3rd place in sight.


The green flag drops at the Esses 120 at Watkins Glen on Saturday, June 22 from 12:50 PM to 2:55 PM ET with qualifying taking place a day prior from 6:30 to 7:05 PM ET.

Thank you to ARPENEOSTurn 14 DistributionMishimotoWhiteline, and DBA for supporting Pit+Paddock’s inaugural IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge campaign with Montreal Motorsport Group.