2018 IMSA GP at Long Beach – Race Report
After showing huge promise in the first two rounds, Penske delivered in Long Beach with their first pole position with Acura
After showing huge promise in the first two rounds of the season, commonly known as the Florida 36 Hours, Penske delivered in Long Beach with their first pole position with the new Acura program. Juan-Pablo Montoya steered the No. 6 prototype to an untouchable 1:19.922, the Colombian thus setting a new circuit record in IMSA prototype competition, as he was the only driver to delve into the 1:12s. Brazilian Felipe Nasr was second in the Whelen-sponsored No. 31 Cadillac with a lap in 1:13.109. Harry Tincknell was just 0.047 behind in the No. 55 Joest Mazda, which shared the second row with the No. 7 Acura. The No. 10 champion car was only sixth, while the quickest LMP2 car was down in ninth, namely the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport Ligier, which was a massive 1.7 seconds slower.
Ford reigned supreme in GTLM and Joey Hand showed everyone the way by going under the 1:17-minute mark
Ford reigned supreme in GTLM and Joey Hand showed everyone the way by going under the 1:17-minute mark aboard the No. 66 Chip Ganassi-entered car. The American’s benchmark of 1:16.869 was too good for either Patrick Pilet or Laurens Vanthoor to surpass, and the two CORE-prepared 991 RSRs had to settle for second and third on the grid. Corvette Racing following suite, while the No. 85 JDC-Miller ORECA did not take part in qualifying due to mechanical issues.
It was never going to be an easy race with so many series sharing the Long Beach street course this past weekend and changing track conditions made for an interesting IMSA race, and we’ve had a bit of everything: wheel-to-wheel racing, contacts, alternate strategies and many more.
Filipe Albuquerque survived the second restart of the race to claim the second win of the season for himself and Barbosa
The Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach got underway without any incidents on Saturday afternoon, the race becoming a one-stopper after the full-course caution period caused by the misfortune of the No. 38 ORECA, which made contact with the No. 52 Ligier in the fountain chicane. At the start, it was all about the pole-sitting No. 6 Acura and the No. 31 Cadillac, Nasr leap-frogging the white Penske machine right off the bat. The Brazilian then managed to keep everyone behind him only to lose all hope after a sluggish stop put them to the back of the top 10. The stops, though, benefited the sister No. 5 Mustang Sampling-sponsored Cadillac, which returned on track in the lead. Filipe Albuquerque then controlled the proceedings, surviving the second restart of the race to claim the second win of the season for himself and Barbosa, after their win at Daytona.
The No. 2 Nissan-Ligier got through to claim second overall, with Ryan Dalziel unable to challenge Albuquerque in the second part of the race
The No. 2 Nissan-Ligier got through to claim second overall, with Ryan Dalziel unable to challenge Albuquerque in the second portion of the race. The two Mazdas were also there, but Team Joest’s decision to pit both cars earlier than the rest did not pay off, and the best-placed RT 24P finished fourth and overall behind the No. 10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing car which was on the move all afternoon, Jordan Taylor surviving a scare under braking for Turn 1 in the latter stages of the race. The two Acuras had a drop in pace in the second stint and had to settle for fifth and sixth with the No. 31 rescuing some points and finishing seventh ahead of the best-placed P2 car. Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg had a better outing at Long Beach and scored the Red Dragon’s best finish of 2018, beating the No. 55 Mazda to the flag in the process. The last of the prototypes was the No. 54 CORE ORECA, with two other prototypes retiring besides the No. 38 car. First off was the No. 85 which stopped on the track, shortly followed by the No. 22 Nissan-Ligier, both due to unknown gremlins.
Top 10 Prototype Class Results
Porsche and Ford both could have capitalized on their pace and win in Long Beach, but none of the two manufacturers got on that coveted top spot
Porsche and Ford both could have capitalized on their pace and win in Long Beach, but none of the two manufacturers got on that coveted top spot. Porsche saw both of their cars fall short while leading, the No. 911 due to damage after brushing with the No. 25 BMW — which eventually retired after understeering into the Turn 9 wall — and the No. 912 after a late-race suspension failure that put them out of the game. Meanwhile, the No. 66 Ford which started from pole got a piece of bodywork stuck to its diffuser early on which slowed Hand down and made him and team-mate Dirk Mueller settle for third.
The sister No. 67 car got second while the No. 4 Corvette cruised past everyone’s misfortune to claim a relaxed victory — the 50th for Oliver Gavin with the Corvette Racing outfit. The No. 3 sister car of defending GTLM champions Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen was also in the pool of bitter luck with the Spaniard nearly stalling the car in the first half of the race when he exited out of the last hairpin. The C7.R got back underway and finished fourth ahead of the surviving No. 24 BMW and the No. 911 Porsche.
GTLM Class Results
Next up in the IMSA calendar is the returning race at the famed Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, which is scheduled for the first weekend of May from the 4th through to the 6th. It will also see the return of the GTD category and, most likely, the Spirit Of Daytona Racing Cadillac. Giuseppe Risi’s GTLM 488 isn’t expected to be back in the series anytime before the race at VIR due to the tight budget of the legendary team that’s been running Ferrari machinery for the better part of two decades.