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Sellers: Pro Could Play “Massive Part” in Long Beach GTD Race

GTD Pro, GTD drivers discuss possible outcomes in shortest, tightest race of season…

Photo: Chris duMond/IMSA

Bryan Sellers believes the addition of the GTD Pro class could play a significant factor in the outcome of the GTD race in this weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, with both classes running to identical technical regulations.

While the opening two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship did not see the Pro-Am-enforced GTD class cars amongst the GTD Pro entries in the overall ranking, Sellers and fellow drivers Jordan Taylor and Ben Barnicoat all feel that could be different in the series’ shortest race of the season.

The 100-minute sprint on the Southern California street circuit traditionally provides few passing opportunities, which the Paul Miller Racing driver believes could provide a prime opportunity for a leading GTD car.

“I think what we saw in Sebring is that there can be a lot of intermingling between the two classes,” Sellers said.

“Certainly at a place where you constantly fight for track position, it could play a massive part for not just them but also for us.

“If you can find a way, as a GTD car, if you’re in the top two or three in GTD, and you can find your way between a couple of Pro cars, that separation really buys you a little bit of breathing room from the cars behind you.

“And you’re under no obligation to let anybody past you at that point in time.

“It’s certainly something we’ve thought about internally.

“If you can get a good qualifying [lap] and find a way to get yourself up front in GTD Pro or at least a couple of cars in between you, it really builds a buffer that I think is extremely important everywhere but especially on a place like Long Beach where passing is difficult.”

Corvette Racing’s Taylor, who heads into Saturday’s race on the heels of GTD Pro class victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, reckons that a GTD entry could have a chance of winning outright amongst the production-based categories.

“We’ve seen in years past that if one of the Am guys get out early by pitting at the beginning of their window before a yellow comes out and the Pro cycles to the front… especially with ABS now it’s so hard to pass that I think a GTD with an Am could win the race outright in the GTD category,” Taylor said.

“Our focus is on the GTD Pro guys. If we see guys diving in early then maybe we’ll react to that.

“But if we see the Ams doing it, we’ll focus on our own program. If the yellow falls into their hand with an Am driver, then so be it. Thankfully the points are split in that aspect so we can focus on our own program.”

Unlike previous years where the now-defunct GTLM class had a shorter minimum drive time compared to the GTD cars, drivers in both GTD Pro and GTD must each complete a minimum of 35 minutes, no matter the driver rating.

“I think one of the big things you’ll see is how the pit stop strategies work out between GTD and GTD Pro,” Sellers added.

“If GTD responds to what GTD Pro does in terms of pit stop strategy or vice-versa. If one set of program kind of starts the other in a trend, say for an undercut or overcut, I think that’s one thing to keep in mind. 

“The yellows there and how you play the strategy are extremely important. In those mixed classes at the same speed, I think it will bring something else completely to it.”

Barnicoat, who is set for his Long Beach debut in Vasser Sullivan’s No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 in GTD Pro, believes the race’s one-and-only scheduled pit stop will “make or break” a team’s race.

“It’s a huge emphasis,” he said. “It’s something we’ve been discussing a lot in pre-event, just making sure we make the time to schedule it in throughout Friday and Thursday when we all arrive at the track

“It can make or break your race if something goes wrong in that change. 

“I’m sure [we’ll all be] practicing it a lot. It’s a bit of a known goal that if you practice and don’t make a mistake it’s hugely important to the overall result.” 

When asked if there could be any focus placed on winning outright, Sellers said it’s not the “end game” for he and co-driver Madison Snow, who are entering the their second race with the new BMW M4 GT3.

“I think it depends situationally,” he said. “Certainly as drivers you want to win overall and I don’t think you would really give away anything unless it was a scenario where you felt like you were going to sacrifice the GTD win itself.

“In that scenario I think you have to race smart and understand the situation. It would be great to win overall but at the end of the day, it’s not the end game.

“It’s one thing [to say that now] and another to be on track and have to relinquish that position should that opportunity come along. 

“You just have to race smart and understand the scenarios you’re in.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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