2014 marks the first year that TUDOR United SportsCar Racing has competed in Long Beach and it was polesitter Scott Pruett and teammate Memo Rojas who dominated the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase. The duo led from start to finish in the Riley-Ford EcoBoost turbo, securing the win and making Pruett the most successful American Sports car driver in history.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Pruett. “It’s been a lot of work, but when we can pull these kinds of races off…Sebring was a disaster. Great [win] for the team, great for the fans.I have to take my hat off to all the drivers out there. When you see that level, between the P cars and the GTLM, that group of guys together, you get a flawless race like we saw today. Everybody was out there racing hard, everybody was out there racing close, but they were also giving room when they needed to and making really good things.”
“Two wins in a row, I can’t believe it,” said Rojas. “I don’t remember having such a flawless, perfect race.”
The 54-year-old crossed the finish line 0.75 second ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing‘s Jordan Taylor, the first of the Corvette DP contingent. Barbosa claimed third in AXR’s Corvette DP, 3.4 seconds behind the WTR car.
First home among the P2 Prototypes was the No. 42 Morgan-Nissan driven by Olivier Pla, a staggering 29 seconds back from Pruett. His teammate, Colombian open-wheeler Gustavo Yacaman, put in a spirited drive before handing the car over in fourth. A slow pit stop dropped the duo back, but they fought back to displace birthday boy Ryan Dalziel in the Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b P2 car by the finish.
In what was a theme on Saturday at Long Beach, the GTLM polesitters also transitioned their qualifying speed into victory as Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen earned the first win for the new Corvette C7.R. The Spaniard rocketed away at the start, keeping four Prototypes behind him.
“I knew that half of the race was all about Turn 1 on the first three laps, basically,” said Garcia. “I was on the high side of being really aggressive, and a little bit of risk made the rest of the race a little more relaxed.”
He’d stretch his lead out to more than 10 seconds on the BMW Team RLL Z4 driven by John Edwards, and handed over to Magnussen who kept the throttle down in the yellow Corvette. The Dane would see his lead shrink to 5.4 seconds as the checkered flag waved, finishing ahead of Edwards’ teammate Dirk Muller. Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner did his best to make it a 1-2, but fell 0.27sec short in third.
“That’s a rare thing for us to have a completely clean race. It’s really good for us. Antonio did a good job and got us a big gap. Everyone really deserves this.” Magnussen said.
The sister Porsche 911 RSRs improved one position apiece from qualifying as they took fourth and fifth, respectively, while the second factory BMW Z4, which had been running in third, settled for sixth after a long stop to replace a door, ruined its chances of a podium result.
If there was an unexpected standout GTLM drive, it went to Risi Competizione‘s Dane Cameron, subbing for Matteo Malucelli who is serving a one-race ban for the poor decision-making abilities he demonstrated at Sebring.
The 25-year-old Californian, son of Spirit of Daytona race engineer Ricky Cameron, turned just 20 laps in the team’s Ferrari F458 before the race, and once he climbed in to take the No. 62 entry to the finish, began setting lap times within a tenth of a second of his veteran teammate, ex-Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. A flat tire late in the event would drop Cameron to ninth in class, but after a stop for fresh rubber, he posted the team’s fastest lap of the race, lowering Fisichella’s 1:19.8 to a 1:19.6.
Next up for the TUDOR Championship is Round 4 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 4th.