LONG BEACH, Calif. - Porsche Penske Motorsport claimed its first victory in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship during the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with its No. 6 Porsche 963 driven by Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy.
The 100-minute sprint race was marked by intense competition between multiple manufacturers, daring strategy and a thrilling finish. During his time behind the wheel of the No. 6 Porsche 963, Tandy managed to keep up with the pole-winning No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 of Filipe Albuquerque in the opening stint. Albuquerque made his only scheduled pit stop just over 40 minutes into the race.
The No. 6 Porsche stopped a lap later but did not take on new tires, which led to the No. 7 Porsche following the same strategy to go to the end on a single set of Michelins. Realizing they couldn’t win on speed alone, the team chose this particular strategy during the pit stop tires to negate the tire warming issue that many GTP teams have experienced this year.
Predictably, the Porsches began experiencing significant rear tire wear in the closing laps, with Matt Campbell in the No. 7 car losing the left-rear wing endplate after contact from Ricky Taylor's Acura. Taylor passed Campbell for second-place with nine minutes to go and had a seven-second deficit to the leader.
With less than three minutes remaining, Jaminet got caught in traffic, allowing Taylor to close right up. The Acura drafted the Porsche down Shoreline Drive, drawing level under braking into Turn 1. However, Taylor misjudged the maneuver and skidded wide into a tire barrier, while third-place runner Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 just managed to get by for the runner-up position.
“I kind of saw it coming,” Jaminet said. “He had fresher tires and I got caught up in traffic the lap before so with two to go it only made sense that he went for it. I braked already late and I just saw, OK, he is going and I was like, ‘If he makes it stop, I’ll be impressed.’ I just saw him lock up and went straight in the fence.
"At that point, I just try to stop as much as I can and go through for the inside. So yeah, at the end we were lucky here, especially after Sebring — it was tough end of the race for for the team. So yeah, nice to end it that way and bring home the win.”
The race ended under caution as Jaminet and Tandy celebrated their first win in the Porsche 963, with De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly claiming second-place in the No. 25 BMW. Campbell and Felipe Nasr completed the podium third in the No. 7.
Jaminet and Tandy have claimed their eighth and 19th career WeatherTech Championship competition wins and it was the 33rd IMSA triumph for Penske. The team’s strategy proved effective, as the race featured only one other full-course caution, right at the start when Sebastien Bourdais experienced a braking issue just before Turn 1, spun and made contact with the outside wall.
After the checkered flag, the top-five finishers looked like this:
N. Tandy, M. Jaminet, No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport - Porsche 963
C. De Phillippi, N. Yelloly, No. 25 BMW M Team RLL - BMW M Hybrid V8
M. Campbell, F. Nasr, No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport - Porsche 963
P. Eng, A. Farfus, No. 24 BMW M Team RLL - BMW M Hybrid V8
P. Derani, A. Sims, No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing - Cadillac V-Series.R
In the GTD Pro class, the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 was driven to victory by Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth. Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C8.R and the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R took second and third, respectively.
The No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 took GTD with Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers. The Heart of Racing’s No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage and the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 rounded out the GTD podium.
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N, which will take place on May 12-14 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.