The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac continued their perfect start to the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with victory in an action packed BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
The 100 minute race featured five caution periods and non stop carnage from the very start to the very end. The race also helped the team’s championship as their closest rivals both hit trouble.
Pole-sitter Ricky Taylor lead away in the #10, but fellow front-row starter Christian Fittipaldi in the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac lost out to Tristan Nunez #55 Mazda at the start.
But half way through the first lap, GTLM leader Toni Vilander in #62 Risi Competitzone Ferrari tagged the #22 ESM Prototype Ligier of Ed Brown into a spin, which left #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand with nowhere to go.
This bought out the first caution of the race and while Hand managed to rejoin, Brown and Vilander were out.
The incident also held up GTLM polesitter Jan Magnusson in the #3 Corvette and along with the Ford, dropped to the back of the field.
The #66 car was then indirectly responsible for two cautions. The first was when it undressed itself leaving debris littering the race track and the second occured when it was punted into a spin at the final hairpin.
During the second caution the #2 ESM Ligier of Scott Sharp pitted along with most of the GT field. These early stops would become crucial as the race played out.
During the prototype pitstops in the fourth caution Dalziel’s earlier stop meant his stop was shorter than his rivals, resulting in him leapfrogging to the lead.
Yet he was only 19th as the entire GT field were out in front due to their earlier pitstops.
So on the restart it was the #24 GTLM BMW of Martin Tomczyk that lead the field away and potentially on course for an unlikely overall victory.
However with 38 minutes to go the Prototypes potentially had enough time to carve through the GT field and back into the lead.
The fifth and final caution eliminated Tomczyk’s lead and Dalziel speed past on the restart.
Yet he remained in the lead of GTLM, until the car cut out with 10 minutes to go, dropping him to the back of the field and promoting the two Corvettes to the front.
Dalziel’s time out in front didn’t last long as Jordan Taylor in the #10 car closed in and retook the lead when the Ligier was bulked in traffic. The Taylor brothers then sped away to make it three wins from three starts,with Dalziel six seconds behind at the finish.
In third place was Jonathan Bomarito in the #55 Mazda which is the Japanese company’s best result so far in the series.
The WTR car’s championship challenge was helped by their closest rivals both being involved in incidents that bought out cautions.
The #5 Cadillac brought out the second when it punted into a tyre wall at turn eight by #50 GTD Mercedes of Gunnar Jeannette.
The Cadillac limped back to pits eventually finished in 29th place, two laps behind. Jeanette was not penalised for the contact.
Then Dane Cameron brought out the final caution when he crashed the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac heavily at turn eight, continuing the reigning champion’s miserable start to the season.
Meanwhile on the final two laps chaos ensued amongst the GT field.
First the #73 Park Place Motorsports GTD Porsche tapped Jeroen Mull in the #16 GTD Lamborghini into a spin, which then trapped the #70 Mazda, on the penultimate corner of the penultimate lap.
Then on the final corner of the final lap carnage ensued when Robert Alon in the GTD #15 Lexus dived down the inside of the #86 Acura, which took both of the them out as well as the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW of Jens Klingmann.
The crash blocked the exit of the hairpin, with only a small gap for the rest of the field to follow through.
The GTLM leaders then arrived on the scene with Antonio Garcia leading a Corvette 1-2 in the delayed #3 car.
The Corvettes arrived at the traffic and stopped so cars could make it through.
But Garcia stopped to close to the parked cars and was unable to turn into the gap leaving team-mate Tommy Milner to gain victory in the #4 ahead of Ford’s Ryan Briscoe and the #912 Porsche of Kevin Estre.
For Milner, who was denied victory here last year by a similar incident at the same turn on the final lap, it felt like a strange kind of payback.
In GTD, despite his incident with Fittipaldi, Jeannette lead home Riley Weathertech team-mate Jeroen Bleekemolen for a Mercedes 1-2 with Alessandro Balzan third in the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari.