Overcoming a mid-race penalty with a late-race pass, the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR entry of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy crossed the finish line first at the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, the lone IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship street course of the year for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
As the race neared its conclusion, Tommy Milner led in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. With only a few minutes remaining, Frederic Makowiecki in the No. 912 Porsche made contact with the Corvette and both cars spun, allowing Tandy in the No. 911 to slip by for the victory.
“It was definitely the most eventful win that we’ve had,” said Tandy, regarding the ups and downs that the team experienced in the race. “Coming from things going badly, and very badly, to then bouncing back and finishing with a victory.”
For the first half of the race, it was a trio of white cars – the two Porsches and polesitter Bill Auberlen in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM – who controlled the lead. However, penalties for each of those cars (the No. 25 serving a drive-thru for an incident on-track with a PC car; the No. 911 and No. 912 entries receiving stop-and-go penalties for speeding on pit road) turned the lead over to the pair of Corvettes near the midway point of the 100-minute race.
The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE climbed to its first podium of the young season after qualifying eighth for the race. Giancarlo Fisichella found himself on the podium for the second consecutive year after the team completed the sprint race in third, while Toni Vilander was third in 2011.
The Ford GTs made their debut on at Long Beach, with the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT rebounding from a mechanical issue that resulted in a fire on-course during practice on Friday to finish fourth. The car, which was unable to qualify on Friday due to the damage, was driven by Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.
Ganassi’s No. 66 Ford GT entry suffered a penalty for speeding on pit road during an early driver change, and Joey Hand and Dirk Muller brought the car home in eighth.
The No. 912 finished the race in seventh while Auberlen and Dirk Werner wound up fifth after their early penalty in the pole-sitting car.
With their second place finish in the race, Gavin and Milner unofficially increased their lead in the standings to 18 points over the four drivers in the No. 912 and No. 25, who are tied for second.
• Following Richard Westbrook’s firefighting skills that mitigated damage to the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT during Friday’s practice session, the team was able to repair the car for a fifth place finish on Saturday. The fire, caused by a leaking fuel fitting, force the team to miss qualifying on Friday, but they were able to repair the car to the point of firing up the engine before they left for the night. They received an overnight shipment from their shop in Indianapolis and completed the repairs with a little help from their rivals in the paddock. Corvette Racing stepped in to assist and provided a few oil lines in the process.
• Corvette Racing continues on their quest for their 100th victory as the WeatherTech Championship heads to the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. As the team prepares for that race, they are also working on defending their milestone win from their return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team will start packing the first of two shipments to France next week.
• With their second-place result, the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R with Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin won the DEKRA Green Award. The award recognizes the most clean, fast and efficient team in the GTLM class in each race through a scoring system developed in a partnership between IMSA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International.
• Next up for the WeatherTech Championship will be the Continental Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 1. The weekend features a pair of two-hour sprints, one for the Prototype and GTLM classes followed by PC and GT Daytona together.