IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, round 3 at Long Beach/USA

IMSA Weathertech Long BeachThe Porsche 911 RSR celebrated its first win of the season in the USA. On the Long Beach street circuit, the reigning IMSA GT champion Patrick Pilet (France) and outright Le Mans winner Nick Tandy (Great Britain) won the GTLM class at round three of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. With the 470 hp Porsche 911 RSR, which is based on the seventh generation of the iconic 911 sports car, the pair beat strong opposition in a thrilling finale. This was the first win for a works-driver lineup in a 911 at Long Beach since 2010. With this, Porsche has made up ground in the manufacturers’ classification of North America’s most important sports car racing series and has closed the gap to sit just four points behind the leader in second place.

IMSA Weathertech Long Beach-5Set against the postcard-perfect backdrop of sun, sea and palms, over 100,000 spectators witnessed the shortest race of the season over just 100 minutes. And with Hollywood just around the corner, there was no shortage of drama and excitement. With five car manufacturers battling for the fiercely competitive GTLM class title, the pilots treated fans to some action-packed, thrilling racing from start to finish.

IMSA Weathertech Long BeachIn lap 13 one of the Porsche North America 911 RSR was running in the lead. Overall Le Mans winner Earl Bamber (New Zealand) held position one ahead of his team colleague Patrick Pilet. Pulling in to the pits after one hour, they handed the cars off to Nick Tandy and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) – and they were promptly handed a stop-and-go penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane. Clocking consistently fast lap times and aided by a safety car phase, the pair caught up and they grabbed their chance in the final stages of the race on the wall- and fence-lined track. Frédéric Makowiecki, however, missed a braking point shortly before the flag, hit the Corvette in front of him and was forced back into the pits with his damaged 911 RSR. He and Earl Bamber were ultimately classified as seventh. But Nick Tandy had the last laugh: The Briton snatched the lead and walked away with his first win of the season.

Race quotes
Marco Ujhasi, Overall Project Manager GT Works Motorsport: “This race provided everything that makes this sport so fascinating. Unfortunately we made it unnecessarily suspenseful for ourselves when we exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane with both 911 RSR. The reason for this was that, against the briefing, the pit lane speed limit zone had been extended. That’s why the checkpoint was no longer in the agreed place. Despite the penalty, we didn’t give up. The 911 RSR performed excellently and it was clear to us that we would close the gap and win on our own merits. In this, our drivers did an outstanding job. For Porsche, the first victory at Long Beach in six years is an excellent result. We deserved this win. Thank you to the whole team for their efforts and to Michelin for supplying excellent tyres.”
Nick Tandy (911 RSR #911): “That was a fantastic race. Despite the minor setbacks, we never gave up, we believed in ourselves, and we fought to the flag. Our victory was well earned. We’ve had so much bad luck this season, so now it was our turn to shine.”

Patrick Pilet
Patrick Pilet

Patrick Pilet (911 RSR #911): “An incredible race. I got away well at the start, but Nick had problems during our pit stop with buckling the harness and we lost valuable seconds. Then we were penalised and lost more time. The race was a real rollercoaster with an unbelievably intense final phase. I’m sorry for our teammates in the 912 car, they drove a great race. But this time luck was on our side.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (911 RSR #912): “After two third places we finally had every opportunity to win today. But we didn’t use it. The first blow was the penalty for being too fast in the pit lane. The collision in the penultimate lap was my fault. I was a touch too optimistic heading into the corner.”
Earl Bamber (911 RSR #912): “Both 911 RSR racers were very fast this weekend, and we already knew in qualifying that we’d be up for victory on this challenging circuit. It’s fantastic that a Porsche has won. But I wish it had been our car that crossed the finish line first.”

Round four of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested on 1 May at Laguna Seca/California.

Race result
GTLM class
1. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 73 laps
2. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA) Chevrolet Corvette, 73
3. Fisichella/Vilander (I/SF), Ferrari 488 GT, 72
4. Briscoe/Westbrook (AUS/GB), Ford GT, 72
5. Auberlen/Werner (USA/D), BMW M6, 72
6. Serra/Balzan (BRA/I), Ferrari 488, 72
7. Bamber/Makowiecki (NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 70
8. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 70

Points’ standings after 3 of 11 races
GTLM class
1. Millner, Gavin, Corvette, 105 points
2. Bamber, Makowiecki, Porsche; Auberlen, Werner, BMW, 87
3. Fisichella, Vilander, Ferrari, 86
4. Pilet, Tandy, Porsche, 82
5. Serra, Ferrari, 80
6. Magnussen, Garcia, Chevrolet; Westbrook, Briscoe, Ford, 79

1. Chevrolet, 102 points
2. Porsche, 98
3. BMW, Ferrari, 88
4. Ford, 80

1. #4 Corvette Racing, 105 points
2. #912 Porsche North America, #25 BMW Team RLL, 87
3. #62 Risi Competizione, 86
4. #911 Porsche North America, 82
5. #68 Scuderia Corsa, 80
6. #3 Corvette Racing, #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, 79