In their Long Beach debut Aston Martin Racing finished second, falling foul of the bumpy 1.9mile track and a final lap pass by rivals Patron Highcroft Racing.
Starting from pole position in the newly-combined LMP class the Lowe's backed Lola-Aston Martin leapt into an early, aided by a poor start by the Highcroft HPD car. It was a lead that driver Harold Primat was able to hold until after the second of two early cautions came out on lap 8, being passed by the Intersport entry when the green flag came out.
Soon after the race took a new took a new twist when David Brabham, in the Highcroft entry dived inside of Primat's coupe at turn eight clouting the blue and orange machine as Primat made his own way towards the apex.
The contact half spun the Swiss, the car only pointed right again by an impact with the tyre barrier which ripped off the left rear bodywork. The incident saw Brabham slapped with a stop-go penalty, but once the Intersport car had been forced to retire with a fuel leak the pair were once more battling for the lead.
With four minutes to go Fernandez, now in the Aston Martin, took the lead from Simon Pagenaud, now ensconced in the green and black HPD. It looked as if the race would go to Fernandez, his car betraying its LMP1 status as it pulled away down Long Beach's curved front 'straight' as he started the final lap.
However, Fernandez, an experienced driver in the ALMS and at Long Beach, was caught out by the bumps as he braked for turn five. The car slid helplessly wide, Pagenaud taking full advantage and snatching the lead, holding off Fernandez's efforts to make amends to win by just three tenths of a second.
“As I took over the car mid way through the race, there were issues with brake fade,” said Fernandez. “But I managed to climb back up to first position before the end by staying as consistent as possible and keeping clear of traffic. It was a real shame to have lost first place on the final lap.”
“We’re very disappointed to have lost first place so close to the end,” echoed team principal George Howard-Chappell. “It was however, a very exciting race and the team had a lot to deal with throughout. Everyone did a great job, but it is a real shame not to win today.”