LONG BEACH, CA – Racing at the Beach, is there any better to take the sting out of tax day? Not in my book! As has been the norm the past several years, Long Beach was home to the IndyCar league as well as the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series. The most exciting race was the ALMS GT2 featuring the competitive BMWs, Corvettes, Porsches and Ferraris. The tight city streets seemed to favor the BMWs this year, ending a two year winning streak for the Flying Lizards Porsches.
The BMW M3 of Hand and Muller started from the pole and easily took the lead early in the race. A mishap by teammate Bill Auberlein in the Fountain turn resulted in the two bimmers to be stopped on the track. After extricating themselves, it took Hand a mere 15 minutes to get around the lead Porsche of Parick Long and the Corvette of Oliver Gavin. In the end, it was the BMW followed by the #4 Corvette driven by Gavin/Magnussen. Third place went to the beautiful Risi Competizione F458 Italia driven by Vilander/Melo.
The LMP1 race was a bit boring with only two cars entered – the Muscle-Milk Aston Martin and Mazda-powered Lola of Dyson Racing. Starting from the pole, Chris Dyson-driven the Lola/Mazda was passed by Luhr on the first lap. The Aston went on to an overall and class win with a 24.624 second margin. "In my head, I had planned to get by Chris in the first corner, but that didn't work out quite well," Luhr said of the start. "He really made a good start and didn't give me a chance to get by him. But I saw I was quicker in the Carousel, so I dived into Turn 5 on the inside and tried to build out a gap."
LMPC was won by the CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09 of Jeannette and Gonzalez. The GTC class was won by the Porsche GT3 Cup car driven by Pappas and Bleekmolen. LMP2 was a one horse race by Level5 Motorsports.
Now that the open wheelers no longer run turbos, racing at the Beach for these cars is not the same. The tight street course makes passing very difficult for the open wheelers, and no longer do the tunnels resonate with the pops of blow-off valves and wastegates. Nonetheless, the Beach is one of the most popular venues for the IZOD series. This year’s winner was a surprise with 3-year veteran Mike Conway crossing the finish first. It did not look like it would be his day after locking up in the pit lane during his fist pit placing him at the rear of the pack. But the calm Englishman kept his composure and ran a cool and calculated race, being at the right place at the right time during the restarts. "It looked a bit difficult here earlier this weekend,” commented Conway, “but this morning I knew the car would be fast. It was really tough to overtake here, but they just told me to hang in there. The team did a great job; good strategy. I can't thank the guys at Andretti Autosport enough, as well as everyone at Window World Cares and DHL, for putting their faith in me." Penske Racing’s Ryan Briscoe managed a 2nd place finish while IndyCar champ Dario Franchitti finished third.