Taylor Brothers Defend Title in BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix
Beaten out for the TOTAL Pole Award on Friday, Ricky Taylor didn’t need long to make amends. Driving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, Taylor bested polesitter Christian Fittipaldi into Turn 1 on the opening lap and paired with his brother Jordan in winning Saturday’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
Race results will remain unofficial, pending extended technical inspection and analysis.
Leading all but three of the 75 laps in the 100-minute race, the Taylors successfully defended their victory on the 1.968-mile temporary circuit, giving the Corvette DP its first triumph of the season. It was the fifth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory for the Taylors and 12th career victory for both brothers in major North American sports car competition.
Joao Barbosa finished second, 2.958 seconds behind after taking over from Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. Action Express Racing teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron took third in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP, 4.159 seconds back at the finish.
While off the podium, Mazda Motorsports had its best outing to date in WeatherTech Championship competition. Tom Long led three laps and joined Joel Miller in finishing fourth in the No. 70 Castrol/ModSpace Mazda Prototype, one position ahead of Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito in the team’s No. 55 entry.
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.
After opening 2016 by scoring the team’s first Prototype Challenge (PC) victory in the longest race of the season – the Rolex 24 At Daytona – Mikhail Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson dominated one of the shortest races of the season to return JDC/Miller Motorsports to victory lane in the No. 85 Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Red Line Oil ORECA FLM09.
Goikhberg led the opening 36 laps before turning the car over to Simpson. Four laps later, Simpson passed Robert Alon in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 to regain the lead and held on for the remainder of the event.
“From my point of view, this one was really done by JDC Miller Motorsports, Misha and I did the easy part,” Simpson said. “The team has really been working hard, not just this year, but last year as well. All credit goes to them. To win the BUBBA burger Grand Prix is just perfect. It was great today, and now we go on to Laguna Seca looking for another win. These wins are getting addicting.”
Renger van der Zande finished second in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 started by Alex Popow, 2.140 seconds behind at the finish. Starworks also fielded the No. 88 Popcorn Sutton entry of Mark Kvamme and Ashley Freiberg, which finished fifth.
On the final lap, Kyle Marcelli was attempting to get around van der Zande in Turn 8 when he tagged a tire barrier. Marcelli managed to continue, but his car suddenly snapped to the right and hit a barrier, badly damaging the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry. Marcelli was uninjured in the incident and joined James French, who started the race in the car and led three laps before his pit stop, on the podium following the event to receive a third-place trophy.