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A Fifth Place Feels Almost Like A Win

Jesse Krohn with the BMW M8 GTE on the Pre-Grid for the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.  Image Credit: 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

"A Fifth Place Feels Almost Like A Win"
Words By: Brandon J. O'Brien
Image Credits: 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images unless otherwise specified.

Due to another Balance of Power (BOP) adjustment imposed by IMSA after Sebring on the new BMW M8 GTE, BMW Team RLL went into the event at Long Beach knowing that for them to succeed it would all come down to strategy.

Even though the 1.968 mile Long Beach course with it's 11 Turns is a course where braking and handling make a difference, the long start/finish straight and the two shorter straights require a lot of power and speed to bring home a win.  With BMW being able to come up with only two out of the three necessary components this was not going to be a easy weekend for BMW Team RLL.

Team Principal, Bobby Rahal stated prior to the weekend, "We have had good fortune at Long Beach over the years.  We have won three times and had a number of podiums.  In fact, we have had at least one car of the two on the podium every year since 2009 except the past two years and we were a contender in those so overall we have a pretty good track record in Long Beach."

After qualifying on Saturday the No. 66 Ford GT driven by Joey Hand was on the GTLM pole with a time of 1:16.869 minutes. The best BMW could do was to secure the 7th and 8th GTLM class starting positions. The No. 25 driven by Conner DePhillippi posted a 1:18.153 minute best lap followed by the No. 24 driven by Jesse Krohn with a 1:18.224 minute time.  Rahal's mood was not as hopeful, "We are obviously disappointed with qualifying as everyone on our team is doing the best they possibly can, given what we've got to work with." Now it was down to strategy.

The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE entering Turn 6 being closely followed by a Prototype at Long Beach.  Image Credit: 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

Conner DePhillippi starting in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE was the first car in the GTLM class to pit on lap 17 just as the fuel window opened.  Alexander Sims took over and re-entered the race on new tires and enough fuel to make it to the finish.  A prototype brought out a yellow minutes later which allowed Sims to save more fuel and cycle to the front of the class as the rest of the field made pit stops.

After leading nine laps he was "passed" by the No. 912 Porsche in the fountain complex.  He was still in good position for a podium finish when, on lap 37 he tagged the wall exiting the Turn-10 hairpin exerting enough damage to the left front of the car to crawl to the pits and retire.


The No. 24 BMW M8 GTE in the Fountains Complex at Long Beach.  Image Credit: 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

The No. 24 BMW M8 GTE which was started by Jesse Krohn maintained his 8th place position through the pit stop where he turned the car over to co-driver John Edwards.  Edwards was able to pick up places as other GTLM cars were forced to pit or retire due to damage. He was able to work his was up to 5th place and held on to that position for the remaining 20 minutes of the race.

Bobby Rahal stated after the race that, "A fifth place almost feels like a win.  Our strategy worked out well initially, pitting early and getting one of the cars into the lead after the yellow.  It was obvious that it would be very difficult for us to stay in the lead however."


The Podium for the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach GTLM Class; (L-R) R. Briscoe, R. Westbrook, T, Milner, O. Gavin, D. Mueller, and Joey Hand.  Image Credit: 2018 Brandon O'Brien / Motor Driven Images

For the GTLM class the final outcome was: 1st-place to the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner;  2nd-place to the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT driven by Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook;  and 3rd-place to the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT driven by Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller.

Round 4 of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be held on May 6th at Mid-Ohio.

TAGS: Alexander Sims, BMW, BMW M8 GTE, Bobby Rahal, BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix, Conner DePhillippi, Corvette C7.R, Ford GT, GTLM, IMSA, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Long Beach, Porsche, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach


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