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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, round 3, Long Beach ... Second win of the season for Porsche

BMW M8 GTE #25,Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Connoer de Phillippi (USA)

BMW M8 GTE #25,Tom Blomqvist (GBR), Connoer de Phillippi (USA)


Long Beach, 13 April, 2019

Porsche has won round three of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Long Beach (USA). At a fiercely-contested city race in California, works drivers Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) secured first place at the wheel of the ca. 510 hp No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR. The Sebring winners Patrick Pilet (France) and Nick Tandy (Great Britain) finished fifth in the sister car with the starting number 911. Porsche now leads the manufacturers’, drivers’ and teams’ classification in the North American sports car championship.

At the start of the 100-minute race – the shortest on the IMSA calendar – Tandy and Vanthoor defended their lead and managed to gradually pull clear of the field. However, a safety car phase shortly before the halfway point of the race cancelled out this advantage. Initially, both Porsche 911 RSR fell back to positions two and three. After the restart, Bamber squeezed past his brand colleague Pilet, and with a spectacular overtaking manoeuvre, the New Zealander then snatched the lead. While the No. 912 car defended the top spot to the flag, Pilet grappled with deteriorating tyres to bring his vehicle over the finish line in fifth place.

In the overall classification, Porsche leads the manufacturers’ championship with 100 points. Thanks to the Long Beach victory, Bamber/Vanthoor have moved to the top of the drivers’ classification, with their works driver colleagues Pilet/Tandy sitting in third place. Round four of the IMSA SportsCar Championship will be contested in Mid-Ohio (USA) on the first weekend in May.

Comments on the race
Steffen Höllwarth (Programme Manager IMSA SportsCar Championship)
“What a thriller! At first everything ran according to plan. We defended the first two positions and managed to eke out an advantage. Ford gambled on the strategy and hoped for a safety car phase – which then eventuated. They took the lead. But our No. 912 car reclaimed the lead and brought it home. The sister car could no longer match the pace on the second set of tyres. We have to take a look at why. Last year Earl and Laurens retired while in the lead, now they’ve made up for that with this victory.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912)

“That was a really crazy race. Laurens kept our car on P2 at the start. At one point someone hit the rear of the car and we sustained some damage that was worrying. After the pit stop I was running in third. I then overtook Patrick and the leading Ford shortly afterwards. After that it was all about somehow getting the car to the finish. I prayed that the diffuser wouldn’t fall off. It didn’t – I’m pleased!”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912)
“What a huge race. At the start it was really close a couple of times between our two Porsche 911 RSR, and we only just managed to dodge a damaged prototype. But apparently there was slight contact. Our rear diffuser was damaged and it couldn’t be properly fixed. Luckily it held until the end. I’m really thrilled about my first win at Long Beach!”

Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 RSR #911)
“Nick got away well at the start and managed to easily retain his lead. We experienced a little bad luck with the safety car and lost the top spot during the pit stop. During my stint I had difficulties with the tyres. Everything was perfect in qualifying, but not in the race. I’m thrilled for my victorious colleagues who put in an exceptional drive despite the defect diffuser. The overall result is good for Porsche’s position in the manufacturers’ classification.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911)
“The race began really well for us and we were clearly in the lead. Our strategy was also the right one. For some reason we didn’t find our rhythm in the second half of the race. The pace was simply not as good as it previously was and we couldn’t make our way up the field. We’ll now take these points home and are very motivated for the upcoming race.”

For the first time in this IMSA WeatherTechSportsCar Championship season, BMW Team RLL and the BMW M8 GTE weren’t able to contest for podium finishes. In the ‘IMSA Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix’ at Long Beach (USA) , the #25 BMW M8 GTE, driven by Tom Blomqvist (GBR) and Connor De Phillippi (USA), finished seventh in the GTLM class. John Edwards (USA) and Jesse Krohn (FIN) finished eighth in the #24 BMW M8 GTE.

Edwards was running fifth before the only pit stop of the race, but a problem with a loose wheel-nut on the tyre change firstly cost the team some time to fix and then resulted in a drive through penalty. The 100-minute race was won by the #912 Porsche.

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL)
“We felt this circuit was not going to be in our wheelhouse, as they say. All we can do is to keep working hard and doing what we can do and hope that we are able to find the pace compared to the other teams who currently have an advantage on us.”

Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M8 GTE, 7th place)
“During the first part of my stint we seemed very competitive and I was happy with the car in comparison to yesterday. As the stint went on however, the others just seemed to have a bit more pace than we did but we knew that this weekend was going to be a difficult weekend for us. The next tracks suit our car really well and we will focus on fighting for podiums again in the next events.”

Tom Blomqvist (#25 BMW M8 GTE, 7th place)
“We simply did not have the pace this weekend to really challenge the competition. We just had to run a smart race but there simply was not enough that happened for us to make any gains. So, now we look ahead to Mid-Ohio, a track that should suit us a bit more.” 

John Edwards (#24 BMW M8 GTE, 8th place)
“A disappointing result but the car was much improved over yesterday’s qualifying so our pace was a bit better. Unfortunately it is a very short weekend so if the car is not right in qualifying you start in the wrong spot. We were able to move up a couple of spots but then had trouble on the pit stop.”

Jesse Krohn (#24 BMW M8 GTE, 8th place)
“Today was difficult. At the end of the day we didn’t have a bad race car, we just got a little bit unlucky in the pit stop. Something happened with the rear tyre, I do not know exactly what but just cannot recover from such an incident a short race such as Long Beach. Overall, I am happy with the steps we made with the car and even starting last, without the tyre issue, there was a chance to maybe make something happen.”

Race result
GTLM class
1. Bamber/Vanthoor (NZ/B), Porsche 911 RSR, 72 laps
2. Garcia/Magnussen (E/DK), Corvette C7.R, 72 laps
3. Gavin/Milner (GB/USA), Corvette C7.R, 72 laps
5. Pilet/Tandy (F/GB), Porsche 911 RSR, 71 laps