LONG BEACH, Calif. – Bryce Miller and Marco Holzer co-drove the No. 48 Chopard/TOTAL Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a sixth-place GT class finish in Saturday’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, a lead-lap finish on the challenging street circuit that saw both drivers turn in competitive performances all weekend.
“We had to start the race behind the entire field, all classes, so this was a real concern, but fortunately I was able to find a gap right away,” Miller. “I probably got five cars or so in the bottle-necking that was going on in the hairpin in the opening lap. We got to the back of the GT line fairly quickly.”
The Paul Miller Racing team then elected to stay on track to gain position during an early caution period. Miller also made a few key passes and soon moved the No. 48 Chopard Porsche into third place.
“It was really good, the car was going well, the balance was good and I really enjoyed driving the car," Miller said. "It was a pleasure to drive and our times were competitive relatively speaking.”
A second pitside strategy call for the No. 48’s only pit stop of the race also factored into the team’s rebound.
“We kind of double downed and decided to not change tires during the stop,” Miller said. “It helped us maintain track position but then kind of caught Marco out a little bit. We kind of lost some pace toward the second half but it was kind of an aggressive, risk-prone strategy today. We had to throw some stuff at the wall and see what stuck to just try to find some track position.”
Holzer drove the final stint to the finish, ran as high as fifth on the fading tires, and managed to stay in touch with the leaders while holding on to sixth at the checkered flag. The finish matched the sixth-place showing in last month’s season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring, a pair of encouraging results to start the year.
“Bryce had a really good run and we decided to stay on one set of tires,” Holzer said. “The last hour, no yellow came out, so I had to really push and at the same time pace the tires. We finished sixth, gained six positions and I am really happy today because it was not easy, especially at Long Beach.”
The Paul Miller Racing team also showed well in Friday’s opening practice when Holzer topped the GT class with the fastest time of the session. The cut tire and related events unfortunately kept Holzer from making an all-out run at the pole in qualifying, but the off-the-truck speed the No. 48 Chopard Porsche showed was another strong positive from the weekend.
“We knew we had a really good car for the pole position in qualifying but these things can happen in racing,” Holzer said. “It was disappointing but our goal today was to come from last and make up some good positions to get points for the championship.”
Next up for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and Paul Miller Racing is the American Le Mans Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 9 – 11, 2013.
“I am happy with where we are as a team at this point early in the season,” Miller said. “We have had a balanced and well prepared car, showed some good pace, and all of the testing that we have done the last few months – we have really been working hard between races – seems to be paying off. At this point I am looking forward to the next race at Laguna Seca and the rest of the season.”
Paul Miller Racing