GT class Porsches miss podium in Long Beach as fuel strategy

Incidents Push Back Final Finishing Positions; Cisneros/Edwards Capture GTC.

Long Beach. After running first and second during the weekend’s only practice session, both the Team Falken Tire and the Paul Miller Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs were anticipating a strong run for today’s two-hour American Le Mans Series street race in Southern California, but fate did not smile on the Porsche teams.

#17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers
#17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 GT3 RSR: Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers

Photo by: Oliver Petalver

At the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR fielded by the Falken Tire squad, Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler (Germany) and Bryan Sellers (USA) had a strong chance for a podium finish, but the team delayed their fuel and tire stop until the last of a series of caution periods gambling that the others who stopped early could not make it to the end on fuel.

It put them in the lead of the GT class for almost 35 minutes, but others made it to the end on fuel without stopping, and the Porsche lost track position it could not make up when it finally pitted.

Henzler took over the driving chores for the final stint, and passed several cars, but his luck ran out with only 14 minutes left when he was penalized after tangling with the #93 Viper, pushing their final finishing position back to tenth place.

“This was a different result than we were hoping for,” said Henzler, who had passed two Corvettes and the Paul Miller Racing Porsche before the incident.

“We had a good car, and I thought I could reach the podium in the last few laps. I wasn’t close enough to pass the Viper for fourth place, but I stuck the nose of the car underneath him at turn one to see how he and his car would react, and I’m not sure what happened, but the brakes locked up, and we touched and spun. It was my fault, but I wasn’t trying to pass at that corner – just trying to test,” said Henzler.

The Paul Miller Porsche finished sixth, the top-finishing Porsche in GT, with Porsche works driver Marco Holzer (Germany) and Bryce Miller (USA) at the wheel. Holzer was fastest in practice yesterday, but a wheel and tire issue prevented the car from getting a qualifying time yesterday, and the car started at the back of the class.

“Since we were forced to the back of the pack for the start, we had to take some risks both on the track and with our strategy. It didn’t work out the way we had hoped, but considering everything, a sixth place finish was good. We have made a step forward with the car since Sebring, and will carry that to Laguna Seca,” said Holzer.

In the GTC class for matched Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars, the podium was populated by three new teams for the Long Beach street race. The NGT MOMO Porsche led almost the whole race with Henrique Cisneros (USA) starting the car and Sean Edwards (GB) taking the checkered flag.

Neither driver had raced at Long Beach previously, and Edwards pointed out that it was not easy for the amateur Cisneros to learn with only limited practice.

“As a veteran Porsche Supercup competitor, I have driven many street courses, and won at Monoco, perhaps the toughest of them all, but I was really impressed with Henrique’s performance here.

By the time I got into the car, I just had to keep it off the wall and save fuel and tires. NGT had a great strategy, and, after leading, but then running out of fuel last year at Road America, it was great to win here,” said Edwards.

The Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Spencer Pumpelly (USA) and Nelson Canache, Jr. (VEN), finished second for the second race in a row, and took the points lead in GTC, the team’s first GTC appearance at Long Beach. The other Lizard Porsche, with Dion von Moltke and Brian Wong (USA) finished third.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Spencer Pumpelly , Bryan Sellers , Wolf Henzler , Paul Miller , Sean Edwards , Marco Holzer , Dion von Moltke , Bryce Miller , Brian Wong , Henrique Cisneros , Nelson Canache
Teams Team Falken Tire , Flying Lizard Motorsports , Paul Miller Racing
Article type Race report
Tags alms, canache, henzler, jr, long beach, miller, porsche, pumpelly, sellers, von moltke, wong