Monday, April 18, 2016

How to Steal a First-Place Finish

The third round of the 2016 IMSA Racing season was run Saturday on the streets of Long Beach.  You will recall that Corvette Racing finished 1 - 2 in the first race (Daytona 24 hours) and the #4 Corvette finished in first place again in the second race (Sebring 12 hours).  Before the third race Team Corvette was handicapped again with further BoP (balance of performance) limitations, the second dose in the early season.  The added restrictions resulted in the Corvettes only qualifying in 4th and 5th place.

Undeterred, by the middle of the Long Beach race the two Corvettes had fought their way to P1 and P2 and held those positions to the very end.  With just a few laps to go I was sure that Corvette would finish 1 - 2 again.  

With the #4 Corvette in the lead, followed closely by the #3 Corvette, the pursuit was hot by the #912  and #911 Porsches and the #62 Ferrari all three advantaged by the BoP adjustments.  Something (Don and I are not exactly sure what) went wrong with the #3 car causing it to spin and to retire from the race with 5 laps to go.  But the #4 Corvette was still in the lead clipping off good lap times.  Since it is almost impossible to pass at Long Beach (even the faster class cars have trouble passing the slower class cars) I was still confident in a Corvette victory.  But the clever boys over at Team Porsche figured out a way to pass the class-leading car -- crash into him!  And that's exactly what happened --the #912 car pushed Tommy Milner out of the way on the final turn, opening the door for the #911 car to finish first.  Tommy kept his wits about him, rejoined the race and finished second.  Everyone knows I'm biased, so  I have pasted below the Racer.COM report on the end of the race.

The #912 car was ordered to the pits -- essentially he was "black flagged" -- the most serious penalty for a driver in racing.  

We won't know until the end of the season how detrimental this incident will be to Corvette racing.  It would have been awesome for the #4 car to have had three consecutive victories to start the season.  We will just have to settle for two firsts and one second.  Of equal interest will be to see what the drivers of the #912 car did to themselves.   If, instead of taking out  Tommy Milner, Makowiecki had been satisfied with a second place finish,  he would have earned in the first three races 3rd, 3rd, and 2nd, and would have been in second place in the season point standings.  Now being dropped to the bottom of the pack in the third race, he has slipped in the standings.  And pouring points on the #911 car, which was in 10th place coming into Long Beach, won't help that much.

I have a strategy for preventing this problem in the future -- but you have to wait for my next blog post to learn what it is!

Article from

The No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR driven by Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet were handed the GTLM win after teammate Fred Makowiecki, driving the No. 912 entry, cheated Corvette Racing's Tommy Milner out of the win by hitting and spinning the No. 4 C7.R in the Turn 11 hairpin with two minutes remaining.

Whether Makowiecki's half-hearted move was phenomenally stupid or intentionally underhanded, the end result left the Corvette parked backward and blocked, and gave Tandy a clear lane to motor by and inherit the win. Once Milner was able to get moving, he took a distant second as the driver of the No. 912 was summoned to the pits by IMSA to pay for his sins. Risi Competizione's No. 62 Ferrari 488 with Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander at the controls was promoted to third after the No. 912's penalty.

Prior to Makowiecki's theft, Milner and co-driver Oliver Gavin were on target to earn their third consecutive win of the season after capturing Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

"I just got wrecked, basically," Milner said. "Two Porsches running nose to tail. It is pretty clear what happened there. It is pretty disappointing that is the kind of racing here where we are better than that for sure. At the end of the day, it could have been worse for us for sure. Second place is obviously great points. Disappointing but certainly could have been a lot worse.

"I don't mind finishing second if it is clean and it is the right way, but that wasn't the right way. It hurts a little bit to be second the way it happened, but again, end of the day second place is good points for us. We can hold our heads high that we raced as hard as we could today, the right way."

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