At the shortest IMSA SportsCar Championship race of the year on the narrow street circuit in California, Earl Bamber (New Zealand) dominated the field until 22 minutes before the end of the 100-minute sprint – only to have to park the 510 hp race car from Weissach, which he shared with Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), in the pits with a broken suspension.
“Our 911 RSR ran very well on this track,” commented Bamber. “The guys did one quick pit stop and we were holding a comfortable lead. But then something went wrong with the suspension and that was the end of our race. It’s a shame for the team, but such things happen. Now we’ll be back to attack in Mid-Ohio.”
At the wheel of the second 911 RSR fielded by the Porsche GT Team, the Sebring winners Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) secured sixth place in the GTLM class ahead of their teammates.
To the picture-postcard backdrop of sun, sea and palms, which makes Long Beach Monte Carlo of the USA, the 911 RSR took off from the front grid row for the first time this season.
Laurens Vanthoor used this advantage to promptly snatch the lead in lap one. He fended off his pursuers repeated attacks to hold on to his spot. After 38 minutes he handed the #912 Porsche 911 RSR off to Earl Bamber during a safety car phase.
The New Zealander rejoined the race as second behind a BMW that had pitted earlier, and immediately closed the gap to the leader. Putting in an inspired overtaking manoeuvre, he recaptured the lead and even managed to pull clear from the rest of the strong GTLM field before a damaged suspension forced him into retirement.
In the #911 Porsche 911 RSR, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy never really regained their stride in the race due to various incidents after their first pit stop.
Round four of the IMSA SportsCar Championship is contested on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington in the US state of Ohio on 6 May.
1. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Chevrolet Corvette, 69 laps
2. Westbrook/Briscoe (GB/USA), Ford GT, 69
3. Hand/Müller (USA/D), Ford GT, 69
4. Magnussen/Garcia (DK/E), Chevrolet Corvette, 69
5. Krohn/Edwards (SF/USA), BMW M8, 69
6. Tandy/Pilet (GB/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 69
7. Vanthoor/Bamber (B/NZ), Porsche 911 RSR, 52
8. Sims/de Phillippi (GB/USA), BMW M8, 37