Taylors conquer Prototypes, Porsche robs Corvette of GT win

While Wayne Taylor Racing had a stranglehold on the United SportsCar Championship’s Long Beach round from the very start of the race, a bruising encounter saw Nick Tandy’s GT win gift-wrapped by his teammate.

Taylors conquer Prototypes, Porsche robs Corvette of GT win

Prototypes

A slowish start from the polesitter, Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi saw Ricky Taylor take full advantage in WTR’s similar Corvette DP, but crucially, Tom Long also inserted the Mazda Prototype into second, and this allowed Taylor to build a cushion of some five seconds before Fittipaldi found a way past.

When Fittipaldi handed the #5 car over to Joao Barbosa with 52mins still to go, it started gaining on the #10 which had simultaneously pitted, as Ricky handed over to brother Jordan.

However, a caution period with 30mins to go bunched the field together, and while this should have been the opportunity for Barbosa to pounce, he never appeared to have his former pace once the green flew with 20mins to go.

The remainder of the race, he spent checking his mirrors for Dane Cameron, his teammate in the #31 AX Racing ’Vette. Jordan Taylor ran out the winner by three seconds, with the AXR cars – Barbosa ahead – in second and third. Cameron’s consolation was fastest lap by the extraordinary margin of half a second.

Fourth and fifth went to the Mazdas of Long/Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez/Jonathan Bomarito who could at least take some satisfaction in beating the Corvette DP of Visit Florida Racing.  

GTLM

At half-distance, Corvette Racing’s decision to pit early looked likely to pay off, as from running fourth and fifth in the early stages, the #4 of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (which picked up a puncture) and its sister #3 of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia sprung into a 1-2 position as their rivals pitted.

But the yellow wall started crumbling with 10 minutes to go. With the #912 of Frederic Makowiecki and #911 of Nick Tandy filling his mirrors, Garcia spun his second-placed Corvette. The two Porsches then hunted down the #4 Corvette which was by now on very worn tires.

Nonetheless, in the closing stages, Milner was placing his car well to deter Makowiecki who was using more and more road as he both sought a way past the ’Vette and tried to hold off teammate Tandy.

With four laps to go, the Frenchman made a desperate move at the final hairpin that was simply never on. His left-front fender made sharp contact with the rear quarter-panel of the #4, spinning Milner around. The pair of them slid just far enough from the apex to leave a 911-sized gap for Tandy to slot through and drive off to victory.

A furious Milner got going again to claim runner-up slot in the car that conquered the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, but Makowiecki had to pit his Porsche with bodywork rubbing on its front tire.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander thus claimed a surprising third in Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 GTE, ahead of the Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook #67 Ford GT, and the polesitting BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner.

Although that was a disappointment for the RLLR BMW team following Auberlen’s breathtaking pole-winning effort yesterday, the #25 car fared better than its #100 counterpart which lost a wheel at the end of the pit straight with 10mins to go.

The Prototype Challenge class was won by the JDC Miller of Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson, the car that had been forced to start at the back of its class for causing a red flag in qualifying. They beat the Starworks entry of Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow by two seconds.

The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca crashed hard at Turn 7 on the final lap – driver Kyle Marcelli was assessed and released by the Medical Center. But his and co-driver James French’s efforts had still been enough to claim third place.

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