By IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 100-minute BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach reverts to a two-class race in 2018, featuring the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes. The same two classes also were featured at Long Beach in 2014 and 2015. The Prototype Challenge class participated in 2016, while the GT Daytona (GTD) class raced in Long Beach last year.
The entry list for the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach features 22 cars, with 14 Prototype entries and eight GT Le Mans (GTLM) machines.
– Jordan and Ricky Taylor have won the past three consecutive BUBBA burger Sports Car Grands Prix at Long Beach, taking overall and Prototype wins in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (they also finished second in 2014). However, only one can repeat this year with Ricky Taylor’s move to the No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi alongside Helio Castroneves. Will Ricky continue the streak and score a breakthrough win for Acura Team Penske in the process? Or, will Jordan and new No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi co-driver Renger van der Zande continue the team’s stranglehold at Long Beach.
– While the Taylor brothers have dominated at Long Beach lately, three other sets of Prototype class co-drivers also own previous class victories at Long Beach. No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi teammates Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp both have won on the streets of Long Beach. Sharp took American Le Mans Series P2 class victories in 2008 and 2013, while Dalziel won in the ALMS Prototype Challenge (PC) class in 2012.
– No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 co-drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun own an ALMS PC class victory together in 2013. That victory was the third consecutive in the PC class for CORE autosport, which won in 2012 with Dalziel and his co-driver, Alex Popow, and in 2011 with Gunnar Jeannette and Ricardo Gonzalez.
– No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 co-drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg won the WeatherTech Championship PC class at Long Beach in 2016. Can they put the “Red Dragon” in Victory Lane for the first time since GAINSCO’s return to IMSA?
– Currently, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi squad of Eric Curran and relative newcomer Felipe Nasr, who is competing in his first full WeatherTech Championship season in 2018, stand atop the Prototype championship points table with 62 points, four more than the second-place pairing of Braun and Bennett. In third place is the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi squad of Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque with 56 points, again demonstrating the strength of Action Express Racing, which has won three of the four WeatherTech Championship Prototype titles awarded since the series’ inception in 2014.
– Last year, the Patrón ESM team narrowly missed out on giving the Nissan DPi its first win at Long Beach as the No. 2 duo of Sharp and Dalziel came home in second place. With a full year’s development now under their belts and three DPi victories – including last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts by No. 22 Nissan DPi co-drivers Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek – can Patrón ESM make it two in a row?
– Mazda Team Joest had a strong Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with its No. 55 Mazda DPi contending for the victory into the race’s final hour before an issue on the final pit stop. Long Beach is as much of a “home game” as it gets for Mazda, with its North American operations headquartered in Irvine, California. Will Mazda finally get its long-awaited first WeatherTech Championship Prototype win on “home soil?”
– For the second consecutive race, both Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi cars were extremely competitive at Sebring, but issues removed both from contention. In addition to considerable IndyCar success on the streets of Long Beach (six total wins), the Penske team does own one previous sports car win at the Beach, the 2007 ALMS overall and P2 class victory with co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas in the Porsche RS Spyder. Long Beach also is a home race for Acura (headquartered in Torrance, California) and Honda Performance Development (based in Santa Clarita, California).
– Two of Acura Team Penske’s drivers, Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya, have won IndyCar races previously on the streets of Long Beach. Montoya’s victory came in 1999 as a rookie with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and was his first career IndyCar win. Castroneves, meanwhile, climbed the fences at Long Beach following his victory with Team Penske in 2001. Both drivers will be inducted into the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Walk of Fame on Thurs., April 12 at 11 a.m. PT. The induction ceremony will be held on South Pine Avenue in front of the Long Beach Convention Center and is open to the public. Admission is free.
– In each of the past three years, a different manufacturer has taken the GTLM class victory in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix. BMW won in 2015 with Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner, followed by Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy winning for Porsche in 2016. Last year, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner claimed the win in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Is it Ford’s turn this year?
– While it hasn’t won in GTLM yet, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing is certainly no stranger to success in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. Scott Pruett – who is this year’s grand marshal for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – and Memo Rojas took the overall and Prototype class victory in the first WeatherTech Championship race in Long Beach in 2014 aboard the No. 01 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford-Riley DP. Pruett also won the only GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Long Beach in 2006 for the Ganassi team in the No. 01 Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype with co-driver Luis Diaz. The Ganassi team also has won six IndyCar races at Long Beach.
– Eight of the 16 drivers entered in the GTLM class at the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix have won previous IMSA races at Long Beach. Gavin is the winningest GTLM driver at the venue with four victories. His No. 4 Corvette co-driver, Milner, has two Long Beach wins.
– No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driver Jan Magnussen also has two Long Beach wins, as well as three class pole positions, the most of any driver in the field. Magnussen’s co-driver, Antonio Garcia, has one Long Beach victory, which came in 2014.
– No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT driver Dirk Mueller has two Long Beach victories of his own. His second victory at the venue came aboard a BMW in the 2011 American Le Mans Series GT race along with his current co-driver, Joey Hand. That 2011 victory was Hand’s only one to date at Long Beach.
– The other pair of Long Beach-winning drivers in GTLM each have one victory to their credit, and also are current co-drivers. No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy won the GTLM class in 2016.
– With the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE currently on hiatus, the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach will be the first IMSA race in more than six years that no Ferraris are competing in a race in which the manufacturer is eligible to compete. The last time it happened was the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sept. 17, 2011.
– There will be a total of eight manufacturers competing in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix spread across the two classes. Six of them have at least one victory in Long Beach, led by Porsche, which has eight IMSA wins on the prestigious street circuit.
Previous Race-Winning Drivers (16)
Oliver Gavin – (4) 2007 ALMS GT1, 2009 ALMS GT1, 2012 ALMS GT, 2017 GTLM
Jordan Taylor – (3) 2015 P/Overall, 2016 P/Overall, 2017 P/Overall
Ricky Taylor – (3) 2015 P/Overall, 2016 P/Overall, 2017 P/Overall
Jan Magnussen – (2) 2008 ALMS GT1, 2014 GTLM
Tommy Milner – (2) 2012 ALMS GT, 2017 GTLM
Dirk Mueller – (2) 2008 ALMS GT2, 2011 ALMS GT
Scott Sharp – (2) 2008 ALMS P2, 2013 ALMS P2
Joey Hand – (1) 2011 ALMS GT
Ryan Dalziel – (1) 2012 ALMS PC
Jon Bennett – (1) 2013 ALMS PC
Colin Braun – (1) 2013 ALMS LC
Antonio Garcia – (1) 2014 GTLM
Patrick Pilet – (1) 2016 GTLM
Nick Tandy – (1) 2016 GTLM
Misha Goikhberg – (1) 2016 PC
Stephen Simpson – (1) 2016 PC
Previous Pole Winners (6)
Jan Magnussen – (3) 2008 ALMS GT1, 2014 GTLM, 2017 GTLM
Ricky Taylor – (2) 2015 P/Overall, 2017 P/Overall
Oliver Gavin – (1) 2007 ALMS GT1
Patrick Pilet – (1) 2008 ALMS GT2
Joey Hand – (1) 2011 ALMS GT
Ryan Briscoe – (1) 2013 ALMS P2
Previous Race-Winning Teams (9)
Corvette Racing – (5) 2007 ALMS GT1, 2008 ALMS GT1, 2009 ALMS GT1, 2012 ALMS GT, 2014 GTLM
BMW Team RLL – (3) 2011 ALMS GT, 2013 ALMS GT, 2015 GTLM
CORE autosport – (3) 2011 ALMS PC, 2012 ALMS PC, 2013 ALMS PC
Wayne Taylor Racing – (3) 2015 P/Overall, 2016 P/Overall, 2017 P/Overall
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – (2) 2006 GRAND-AM DP/Overall, 2014 P/Overall
Acura Team Penske – (1) 2007 ALMS P2/Overall
Patrón ESM – (1) 2013 ALMS P2
Porsche GT Team – (1) 2016 GTLM
JDC-Miller Motorsports – (1) 2016 PC
Previous Race-Winning Manfacturers (6)
Porsche – 8
Chevrolet – 7
Acura – 3
BMW – 3
Ford – 1
Cadillac – 1