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IMSA Long Beach: Action Express Cadillac beats the Acuras

Action Express Cadillac pair Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa won the 2019 BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach, the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, beating the Acura Team Penske ARX-05s.

Helio Castroneves’ Acura led from the start ahead of Felipe Nasr’s #31 AXR Cadillac DPi-V.R, but Tristan Nunez made the best progress by surging his #77 Mazda RT24-P up from sixth to third, forcing Juan Pablo Montoya in the second Acura to relinquish his position.

Bomarito spun the #55 Mazda RT24-P at Turn 8 on Lap 2 and fell to the back of the pack, while a little earlier around the lap, at Turn 6, Jon Bennett clipped the inside of the wall in the CORE autosport Nissan and ground to a halt, bringing out the full-course caution. Avoiding Bennett’s car had forced Montoya to back off and he ceded fourth to Jordan Taylor’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.

Following the restart, Castroneves retained his lead but at the end of Lap 8 he slowed exiting the hairpin as he accidentally hit the pitlane speed limiter, which allowed Nasr and Nunez through. But pressure from Taylor was relieved when it transpired that Taylor had passed Montoya under a local yellow, and the WTR Caddy would receive a drive-through penalty.

Bomarito, meanwhile, pitted early for a new nose and replacement by Harry Tincknell and the #55 fell two laps down. It then stopped on track and got going again, but not before the full-course caution flew. That triggered all the Prototypes to pit except for Juncos Racing’s Cadillac, driven by Kyle Kaiser. Unfortunately for AXR’s #31 crew, its Cadillac – now driven by Pipo Derani – lost a wheel on the out-lap, forcing another stop.

Thus Kaiser took the lead ahead of Oliver Jarvis who had taken over the surviving Mazda from Nunez, with the two Acuras – now driven by Ricky Taylor and Dane Cameron – in third and fourth.

Renger van der Zande, having taken over the WTR Cadillac from Taylor, thumped the Turn 9 concrete hard enough that he had to pit terminally.

On Lap 39, with 56mins elapsed, Kaiser relinquished the lead to make his first pitstop and hand over to Will Owen. That left Jarvis out front but under intense pressure from the Acuras, although Cameron was impatient to get ahead of his teammate and even nudged into him at the hairpin before making a second stop with 38mins to go.

Ricky Taylor and Stephen Simpson in the #84 JDC-Miller Cadillac pitted on the following lap, with Jarvis next time by, but strong out laps from Taylor and Cameron ensured Jarvis dropped behind both Acuras and came under pressure from Simpson.

Out in front now was Albuquerque, who having taken over from Barbosa, had pitted the #5 AXR Cadillac for its second stop long before his rivals, and had then set several personal best times to vault ahead of the Acuras once they stopped.

Taylor clawed onto the tail of Albuquerque’s Cadillac with 25mins to go – although Cameron dropped back as he appeared to get caught in GTLM traffic at inopportune moments.

It was Taylor’s turn to suffer in a similar manner in the last two laps, Albuquerque able to nip through traffic at the end of straights, leaving his pursuer bottled up behind GTs. Thus Albuquerque came home 0.740sec ahead of Taylor, with Cameron third, a further 1.133sec in arrears.

Jarvis held on in fourth for Mazda ahead of Simpson’s JDC-Miller Cadillac, with Derani recovering from his pitstop calamity to finish sixth after a late-race pass on Owen left the Juncos car in the tire wall.

GTLM: Porsche converts pole into victory

The two Porsche 911 RSRs of Nick Tandy and Laurens Vanthoor held onto their qualifying advantage ahead of Oliver Gavin in the #4 Corvette C7.R, Sebastien Bourdais in the #66 Ford GT, the second ’Vette of Antonio Garcia, the two BMW M8s and Ryan Briscoe’s #67 Ford.

Bourdais was the first to pit, just past the half-hour mark. It worked out perfectly as suddenly the full-course yellow flew for the #55 Mazda stopping on track, so the #66 Ford – now driven by Dirk Muller – jumped to the front when all its rivals pitted under yellow.

Taking over from Vanthoor, Earl Bamber moved the #912 ahead of the #911 (now with Patrick Pilet at the wheel) for second while they were being lapped by a Prototype, and they were being pressured hard by the two Corvettes, now with the #3 ahead of the #4.

This quartet reeled in Muller’s Ford and when it was slow off the hairpin, Bamber grabbed the lead down the front straight. However, Pilet didn’t get through and with 22mins to go, Magnussen moved into third in class after passing the Porsche down the long front straight.

The #66 Ford’s early stop had left Muller very short of fuel in the closing stages, and on the last lap, with the two Corvettes filling his mirrors, the GT simply didn’t accelerate onto the back straight, causing Magnussen to run into the back of him – which turned the Ford into the wall.

Bamber crossed the line 4.473sec clear out front, with Magnussen’s now-injured Corvette being gallantly escorted to the line by the sister car of Tommy Milner.

Muller was classified fourth ahead of Pilet’s Porsche, Richard Westbrook in the second Ford and the two BMWs.

  • Source: Motorsport Network
  • Photocredit: IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship
Frank van Nunen

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