Tommy Milner found redemption around the Long Beach hairpin, benefitting from a pileup in the final corner to sneak past Corvette Racing teammate Antonio Garcia and claim a shock GT Le Mans class victory in Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix.
After having a victory taken away by contact in the same corner one year ago, Milner and co-driver Oliver Gavin were the beneficiaries of an overzealous move by 3GT Racing’s Robert Alon who made contact with several other GTD contenders while fighting for position on the final lap.
Three cars piled into each other, causing a stack up in notoriously narrow hairpin that brought the trailing cars to a halt, with no full-course caution called.
Garcia in the class-leading No. 3 Corvette C7.R pulled to the outside, but when a gap opened in the gridlock to the inside Milner was ready to pounce.
Ryan Briscoe followed him through the opening in his No. 67 Ford GT to take second while class pole-sitters Garcia and Jan Magnussen had to settle for fifth in the No. 4 Corvette.
Kevin Estre finished third for Porsche with Alexander Sims in the No. 25 BMW M6 GTLM in fourth.
The race was punctuated by five caution periods, the first coming on the first lap.
Toni Vilander leapt from third on the GTLM grid to the class lead, only to make contact with Ed Brown in the No. 22 Tequila Patron Nissan Onroaki DPi, abruptly ending the day for the Risi Competizione driver.
That accident also caught up several of the presumptive favorites in the class including Garcia’s Corvette and Joey Hand in the No. 66 Ford GT, which had started on the outside of the front row.
That incident and a sequence of caution flags elevated the No. 24 BMW of Martin Tomczyck and John Edwards to the overall lead, which they held until just under 20 minutes to go in the race as the Prototype class pit strategy played out.
Tomczyck continued to pace the GTLM field even after relinquishing the overall lead until it abruptly slowed on course, handing the top spot to Garcia in the Corvette with 12 minutes to go. Tomczyck and Edwards were forced to settle for seventh.
Gunnar Jeannette secured back-to-back class victories for Mercedes-AMG, teaming with Cooper MacNeil to win in GTD for WeatherTech Racing.
Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who together with Mario Farnbacher claimed top class honors at Sebring, finished second on Saturday, in a 1-2 finish for the German manufacturer and Riley Motorsports.
The Riley-run crew played the fuel strategy game perfectly, making their lone pit stop on Lap 12 and stretching the fuel for the final hour and 16 minutes to get to the checkered flag, beating their teammates to the stripe by over three seconds.
Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen completed the podium in their Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 car, with the Porsche 911 GT3 Rs of Joerg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The class pole-sitting No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3, which led early, was one of several cars to be given penalties for servicing in a closed pit, which dropped them out of contention, and later out of the race due to contact by Madison Snow.
RESULTS: Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix