Porsche Racing had a disappointing run at yesterday’s Long Beach Grand Prix in California. Racing in the Tudor IMSA series ‘showcase’ at Long Beach, the 100-minute street race left little time to fight back from a low starting position.
While Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet initially went well in qualifying, running P2 and P3 early on and driving the wheels off their Porsche 911 RSRs (see the video below), the cars started the race further down the field. The tight and twisty street circuit is tough for overtaking, so when Lietz put a move on Oliver Gavin’s Corvette at the start, there was no room for error. Sod’s Law, that is what happened.
“An accident at the start is something you can really do without, particularly on a street circuit like Long Beach,” said Lietz. “You know that the race is short and that overtaking is difficult, so you try everything to make up positions at the start. That didn’t work this time. I didn’t expect the Corvette to swerve towards me. I couldn’t avoid him and ended up in the wall.”
Looks more like he ended up in the Corvette (above), but Pilet made the most of his team mate’s misfortune, to come home in fourth place. “I was lucky in the first corner after the start. While Richard’s car was forced into the wall, I just managed to scrape through. Our car wasn’t easy to drive in the first laps, but it improved over the course of the race and the balance got better. In fact, we weren’t far off the top with our times. Still, on this narrow circuit it was impossible to overtake.”
IMSA Porsche Racing California
The number 911 RSR eventually finished eighth overall, with local driver and polesitter Bill Auberlene on the top step in the BMW Z4. No surprise to see a win from pole on this super short race. If you’re wondering why teams put all that time and money into racing an almost nonexistent event, look at where Long Beach is situated, just south of Los Angeles central. It’s the easiest place to market to those who won’t come to a circuit.
Not done the maths yet, but I think this keeps Porsche at the bottom of the championship table in the GT Le Mans class of the Tudor IMSA series. Next round is Laguna Seca at the start of May: another short race of just 2 hours 40 minutes, but with more room to get past the rest. We’ll have to see how things pan out with Michael Christensen in the number 911 RSR, while some of the boys come home for Spa WEC.
Watch the IMSA Tudor Sportscar Showcase Long Beach qualifying on video here: