TUDOR: Ganassi Ford, Corvette dominate Long Beach
Chip Ganassi Racing scored back-to-back TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victories following a dominant performance by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas on the streets of Long Beach.
The No. 01 Riley-Ford took the overall win in Saturday’s Tequila Paton Sports Car Showcase, edging out a brace of Corvette DPs for the top spot in the 100-minute sprint, which ran caution-free.
After starting from pole, Rojas enjoyed an early lead but co-driver Pruett lost it during the one-and-only round of pit stops, which saw the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa beat the Ford EcoBoost-powered entry out of pit lane.
Pruett, however, regained the top spot on the track just a few laps later, getting around Barbosa with less than 48 minutes to go and bringing the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP of Jordan Taylor with him to second place.
It was Taylor who put the most pressure on the Ganassi machine in the closing laps but Pruett managed to fend off the second-generation driver by 0.759 seconds at the line for the win.
The Taylor brothers came home in second, followed by Barbosa and co-driver Christian Fittipaldi, who completed the podium in third after briefly leading.
OAK Racing’s Olivier Pla recovered from a slow pit stop to finish fourth overall, the best of the P2 cars, but more than 20 seconds behind. Co-driver Gustavo Yacaman had a storming opening stint but made contact with the No. 10 WTR Corvette on at least one occasion.
The No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Dalziel, which was one of the few teams to double-stint its Continental tires, faded back to sixth on the final lap after being ahead of Pla in the closing stint.
It therefore gave the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of Richard Westbrook a top-five result, despite an early race spin by co-driver Michael Valiante that collected the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford of John Pew.
Prior to that incident, Pew, who started on the front row thanks to Ozz Negri’s qualifying lap, ran out of room heading into Turn 1 at the green and slammed into the tire barriers.
Despite intermittent electrical issues, Negri managed to set the fastest lap of the race, although the car did not take the checkered flag.
With an early lead and a caution-free race, the race lived up to its name in the GTLM class, which saw Corvette Racing put on a showcase of a performance.
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia gave the new Corvette C7.R its first class victory in only its third race.
The pole-sitting No. 3 Corvette of Garcia bridged out a 10-second lead early, aided by Prototype class traffic that held up the battle for the class lead.
Magnussen held control of the race following the single round of pit stops, cruising to a 5.408-second victory over the No. 56 BMW Team RLL entry of Dirk Mueller and John Edwards in second.
Tommy Milner nearly made it a Corvette 1-2 in the end, after pressuring Mueller in the closing laps but having to settle for third in his No. 4 Corvette with co-driver Oliver Gavin.
Porsche North America, which swept the opening two rounds, finished fourth and fifth in class, with the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz ahead of the Patrick Long and Michael Christensen-driven entry.
Long held off a hard-charging Bill Auberlen in the end, after the defending race winner was delayed in the pits due to a broken right side mirror, which required a complete door change.
Auberlen dropped from second to seventh due to the long stop but managed to bring the No. 55 BMW home in sixth, ahead of the No. 91 SRT Viper GTS-R of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens.
While the No. 62 Risi Competizione recorded its first finish of the season, despite a spin by Dane Cameron and a late-race unscheduled stop, the No. 93 Viper retired late with drivetrain issues.
The next stop for the TUDOR Championship is the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 3-4.