Dirk Müller and John Edwards drove the #56 BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE to a second-place finish in the GTLM class in the Long Beach Tudor United SportsCar Championship race. Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia won the class in their Corvette C7-R.
The Corvette, which had qualified on the pole, led from the start—and got a cushion early in Garcia’s stint, when a slow prototype held up the rest of the GTLM field. Despite Müller’s best efforts there was no way to catch the Corvette. Tommy Milner, driving the second Corvette, tried to pass the #56 Z4 in the waning laps, but Müller held him off. Milner finished third ahead of the two factory Porsches: #911, driven by Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz, and #912, driven by Patrick Long and Michael Christensen.
Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx finished sixth in the #55 Z4. Priaulx clipped the pit wall on the way in for his stop, and lost the right side mirror. The series requires two intact mirrors, so the team had to replace the passenger side door, to which the mirror is attached. The extra seconds in the pit dropped the car from third to seventh in the GT pack. Auberlen recovered to finish sixth. He was chasing down the Porsche driven by Patrick Long at the end, but could not find a way to pass.
The entire 100-minute sprint, the shortest race of the TUSC season, was run entirely under green, so there were no opportunities to recover lost time in a yellow flag period.
Just two classes, Prototype and GTLM, contested the race; the GT Daytona class, in which Turner Motorsport’s Z4 GTD runs, did not take part in the Long Beach race, and the series’ Prototype Challenge class for spec prototypes sat out the race as well. Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas took the overall and Prototype class wins in the Ganassi Riley-Ford.
All four classes will run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 4, but there will be two separate races, including one for the Prototype and GTLM classes and another for the GTD and PC classes.
Going into Laguna Seca, Auberlen and Priaulx retain their drivers’ points lead by a slim two points over Porsche’s Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz.—Brian S. Morgan