IMSA: Taylor brothers take victory at Long Beach

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Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor took the first race win for Daytona Prototype machinery in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship as the series visited Long Beach.

Jordan Taylor – driving the #10 Corvette DP – crossed the line two seconds ahead of Joao Barbosa in the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to chalk up Wayne Taylor Racing’s first victory of the season.

The key move occurred at the first corner of the first lap, when Ricky Taylor made a daring move on the inside of pole-sitter Christian Fittipaldi who started the Action Express. Fittipaldi then lost second position to Tom Long, driver of the #70 Mazda Prototype, and had to wait almost half an hour before making his recovery overtake.

Taylor kept his lead through the opening stint, lasting 37 laps before handing over to his brother. Action Express also chose to pit at this point, but a quick turnaround by the WTR crew kept their car in front.

The #70 Mazda faded in the second stint as the Daytona Prototypes exhibited their superior pace around the narrow street course. Jordan Taylor, despite having Barbosa for company, managed to extend his lead before the first and only caution of the race – for the recovery of the CORE Autosport Prototype Challenge car of Colin Braun – bunched the field with half an hour to go.

That put Barbosa within striking distance, with Dane Cameron just behind in the second Action Express machine. But despite the concertinaing of the field, Taylor was able to hold off his rivals to record an important early season victory for the family-run team.

Barbosa held second, crossing the line two seconds adrift of Taylor, while Cameron completed the podium a further two seconds back. The two Mazda Prototypes finished fourth and fifth, securing the best-ever race result for this chassis.

The GT Le Mans category was decided in more dramatic fashion, as Porsche stole victory from Corvette in the dying minutes. A controversial move by Fred Makowiecki in the #912 Porsche 911 RSR on the #4 Corvette C7.R of leader Tommy Milner saw both drivers lose ground, promoting the sister Porsche of Nick Tandy to the lead.

Tandy converted the victory for himself and team-mate Patrick Pilet, while Milner picked himself up to finish second. The Ferrari 488 of Risi Competizione rounded out the top three, albeit a lap down, while the #67 Ford GT just missed the rostrum in fourth. BMW Team RLL had started strongly with Bill Auberlen leading the race from pole, but a drive through ultimately cost the team. Both Porsches also had to make unscheduled returns to the pits following speeding infringements, but they were able to rejoin the lead battle during the cautions.

The only other category racing at Long Beach was Prototype Challenge, which saw the JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Mikhail Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson extend its championship lead. Starting from pole, Goikhberg led the first stint and handed over to Simpson who passed Robert Alon in the PR/1 Mathiasen Motorsports car to move into first. The South African kept his place for the remainder of the afternoon, holding off Starworks Motorsport’s Renger van der Zande by two seconds.

Van der Zande almost lost his position to Performance Tech Motorsport’s Kyle Marcelli on the final lap, but a crash for the chasing car left the Starworks man free to claim second. Marcelli picked himself up without losing a position and joined team-mate James French on the podium despite his car experiencing significant damage.

The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship takes place on May 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterrey, California. All four classes are back in action, with two separate races planned for Prototype/GTLM and Prototype Challenge/GTD.

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