2016 WeatherTech USCC: Long Beach Grand Prix race report
After grabbing pole position for the 24 Hours of Daytona back in January, the no. 911 Porsche North America Racing squad hasn’t been on good terms with Lady Luck in the opening two rounds of the 2016 WeatherTech USCC.
However, after a month’s break, the no. 911 squad bounced back at the Long Beach Grand Prix, giving the updated Porsche 911 RSR its first victory of the year on the streets just south of downtown Los Angeles.
After a pair of third place finishes at Daytona and Sebring, the sister no. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and Frédéric Makowiecki started the weekend well, securing second place on the grid, just 0.003 seconds away from pole position, thanks to a superb lap from Bamber.
The Porsche North America Racing squad shunned its normal qualifying tactics for Long Beach (the shortest race of the year, and the only GTLM street circuit round) providing the two works 991 RSRs with an aggressive setup for the grid-setting session.
This meant that Pilet was able to line-up just behind in third place and, when the race got underway, the Porsche 911 duo made further headway with Bamber shooting into the lead, just ahead of the Frenchman.
For the first hour, the two Porsche 911s headed the GTLM class before pitting at the 60-minute mark for the race’s only driver change. Bamber handed the no. 912 over to Makowiecki with Tandy taking over the no. 911 machine.
However, both cars were hit with pitlane speeding penalties, allowing the no. 4 Corvette into the lead. A combination of a safety car period and the factory Porsches’ strong pace saw both cars back in contention though as the race came towards its conclusion.
With just a few minutes remaining, Makowiecki missed his braking point, tagging the rear of the leading Corvette, spinning it around and allowing Tandy to take advantage and move into first in time to take the Porsche 911 RSR’s first victory of the season.
Behind, the damage to the no. 912 sister car meant that Makowiecki and Bamber were classified as non-runners at the finish. Three laps down on the race winners, the duo were credited with seventh place.
The result sees the no. 912 Porsche 911 still sit second in the drivers’ and teams’ standings (albeit now 18 points ahead of the leading Corvette), while Tandy and Pilet’s victory sees the Anglo-French duo move up to the fourth and fifth in the drivers’ and teams’ classifications respectively.
Ahead of the next round at Laguna Seca – scheduled for the end of the month –Porsche has also closed the gap to Chevrolet to just five points in the manufacturers’ championship.
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