Dirty Porsche Teamwork Costs Corvette Racing the Long Beach Win
Corvette Racing has dominated the GT LeMans class in the 2016 Weather Tech Sports Car Championship, finishing 1-2 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona while the #4 Corvette of Milner and Gavin took the class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring race. In winning the first two races of the season, the #4 Corvette was the odds-on favorite as the teams headed to California for the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach and you had to expect to see the #3 Corvette around the front of the field as well.
Qualifying and the Early Stages
The Corvette Racing teams came into Long Beach flying, with the #4 car turning the quickest lap among the GTLM field in practice one while the #3 Corvette was 3rd quickest in the field. The Corvettes slipped back in the field a bit during the second practice and heading into the 1 hour and 40 minute street course race, the Corvettes qualified 4th and 5th in class, 12th and 13th overall.
Even though the #4 Corvette has to make an unscheduled pit stop to replace a blown tire just a half hour into the race, the two Corvettes had moved to the front of the field just before the halfway mark, with Tommy Milner taking the lead with 53 minutes left in the 100 minute race. From there, Milner would pull away from his teammate in the #3 Corvette to the tune of 11 seconds, but a full course caution bunched the field up late in the race.
Things Go South Late
After the late restrart, the two Corvette Racing teams held the top two spots in the GTLM class, but when Antonio Garcia crashed with 9 minutes left, the #3 team was forced to settle for a 9th place class finish (22nd overall).
Even without his teammate in tow, Milner and his #4 Corvette C7.R continued to lead the GTLM class, and it appeared that he would be racing to his third straight win. However, with 2 minutes and 10 seconds left in the race, Milner approached the turn #11 hairpin and when he slowed, the #912 Porsche 911 driven by Fred Makowiecki took a very awkward line and plowed into him from behind. This spun the Corvette around and allowed the #911 Porsche – the teammate of the car which hit the Corvette – to pass and claim the win.
The video below shows the full broadcast of the race and if you fast forward to the 1 hour and 20 minute mark, you can watch the #912 Porsche spin the #4 Corvette.
Milner would still finish second in the class, but considering the cheap means in which the Porsche team won, it is a disappointing second. The Porsche driver admitted that he was at fault for the accident that took the Corvette out of the lead, but no other action was taken against the team that cheated to win.
The good news is that with a 2nd place finish, the #4 Corvette team still holds the top spot in the team championship race while Gavin and Milner continue to lead the driver’s championship race.
The next race is later this month, when the teams hit the hills of Laguna Seca for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda.
Image: GM via Corvette Racing