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Taylors Sew Up Second Straight Win In Long Beach

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 17 2016
The No. 10 DP Corvette of Wayne Taylor Racing won the Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday. (IMSA photo by Richard Dole LAT Photo USA)

The No. 10 DP Corvette of Wayne Taylor Racing won the Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday. (IMSA photo by Richard Dole LAT Photo USA)

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Ricky Taylor ducked under polesitter Christian Fittipaldi in Turn 1 on the opening lap and then he and teammate/brother Jordan Taylor went on to win the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday.

The Taylor brothers, driving the Wayne Taylor Racing Daytona Prototype Corvette, led all but three laps in the 75-lap race.

“I was devastated after messing up in qualifying because I know how nice it is to start on pole at Long Beach because track position is so important,” Ricky Taylor said. “I was thinking about the start all night and, a 4 o’clock race start gave me all day to think about it. I had every situation planned in my head except for that exact one where he accelerated right out of (turn) 11 and was a bit early, I thought. We were a bit trimmed out, so I was able to stay close, and it’s actually easier sometimes to be second because you’re not the first one feeling the new grip, so I had a little bit of an advantage just being able to attack. He didn’t give me a whole lot of room, but that’s racing. It’s good stuff.”

The victory was the second straight for the Taylors at the 1.968-mile street course and it came by 2.958 seconds over the No. 5 pole-sitting Action Express DP Corvette of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.

“In hindsight I was probably too conservative on the start,” Fittipaldi said. “Hats off to Ricky as he saw the gap and he pulled off the pass perfectly. We rubbed a little bit but overall it was good, hard racing. When you can’t win, you finish second and maximize your championship points, which is exactly what we were able to do today.”

The No. 5 ‘Vette was able to put significant pressure on Jordan Taylor during the second stint but could not make the pass for the lead.

“The 5 was on me pretty much from the get-go when I got in the car and was putting a lot of pressure on,” Jordan Taylor, who methodically held off the field on the race’s only restart with 21 minutes to go, said. “When the yellow came, I really didn’t know what to expect on cold tires but, once we got going, I saw the 31 was behind the 5 and that kind of helped take his focus off me a little bit and he was probably having to look both front and rear. I was able to pull a little bit of a gap thanks to the 31 and kind of maintained that until the end of the race. Thankfully, we didn’t catch too much traffic in the last 10 to 15 laps and we were basically able to hold our pace and get to the end.”

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.

Curran called it a good day and sadi,”We were able to pick up a spot from where we started and that’s critical in any street course event because passing is extremely difficult, even more so here than in Detroit because of how narrow the track is. We always want to win and we expect to do it, but we’ll take the podium finish and hopefully carry the momentum into the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix in two weeks.”

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.

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In GT Le Mans: Porsche ended Corvette’s season-opening two-race winning streak by claiming the class victory at Long Beach.

The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR entry of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy crossed the finish line first.

As the race neared its conclusion, Tommy Milner led in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. But with 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.”

Milner was not happy with the victory-costing shunt.

“It was fairly well under control until I had a wiggle apparently,” he said. “But that wiggle was tiny. I just got wrecked basically. Two Porsches running nose to tail… it is pretty clear what happened there. It is pretty disappointing that this is the kind of racing we have here where we are better than that for sure. At the end of the day, it could have been worse for us for sure. Second place is obviously great points. Oliver was unlucky there with the puncture (tire) and it was looking pretty bleak for us for a little bit there.

“But with the yellow, and we were at the right spot there at the end. There were very difficult conditions there after the yellow flag I was locking fronts all over the place and then the tires came back and they were good. Then with three to go, just taken out. It’s disappointing but certainly could have been a lot worse. I don’t mind finishing second if it is clean and it happens the right way, but that wasn’t the right way. It hurts a little bit to be second in this case the way it happened, but again, end of the day second place is great points for us. We can hold our heads high that we raced as hard as we could today, the right way.”

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.

“It was a really difficult race,” Vilander said. “We are a little bit in a class of our own. The team did an awesome job today. The car felt quite good to drive but we just don’t have any speed or any power. I had our competitors in front of me and they pulled me five car lengths on the front straight. It’s hard to gain that back, but it was good to get third place. We will keep working and we keep improving but we need something more as well. Today we were a little bit lucky with the accidents and hits the others had. I had some slight issues towards the end of the race but I’m really happy for Giancarlo, me and the whole team to finish on the podium.”

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 practiceon 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.

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In Prototype Challenge: After opening 2016 by scoring the team’s first Prototype Challenge 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 b 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.

 

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 17 2016
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