Action Express Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa used strategy to their advantage, jumping to the lead of the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach to take their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of 2019.
Eleven DPi cars participated in the 100-minute street fight with cautions, penalties, contact and strategies threatening to mix up the order. The drama started early, with Jon Bennett’s trip into the tire wall at Turn 6 precipitating contact between Jordan Taylor and Jonathan Bomarito.
While pole sitter Helio Castroneves led the first seven laps in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05, the caution gave way to a restart and a period of dominance by Felipe Nasr until the race’s second yellow-flag period.
An incomplete pit stop led to a loose wheel for Nasr’s co-driver Pipo Derani, dropping the Whelen-branded No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R out of the lead and down the running order.
While much of the focus was on the front-running No. 77 Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis and the pair of Acura DPis that chased him, Albuquerque pitted five minutes before the other leaders and was able to gain a significant track position advantage as green-flag pit stops for the flagship prototype division progressed.
Albuquerque took the lead on the 45th of 73 laps turned by the lead-lap cars and never relinquished it, despite a strong challenge from second-placed Ricky Taylor who replaced Castroneves in the pole-sitting No. 7 Acura.
The leading Cadillac went on to cross the finish line just 0.740 seconds ahead of Taylor, garnering the second consecutive Long Beach victory for Albuquerque and Barbosa.
With Taylor in second, Cameron gave Acura and Penske a 2-3 finish when he took the checkers 1.133 seconds behind his teammate. Jarvis, who was shuffled to fourth during pit stops, finished in the same position. JDC-Miller Motorsports completed the top five with the No. 84 Cadillac shared by Simon Trummer and Stephen Simpson.
After its disastrous pit stop and a subsequent penalty for improper emergency service, Nasr and Derani finished in the sixth position, ahead of Juncos Racing’s No. 50 Cadillac in one lap down seventh.
The No. 55 Mazda DPi never fully recovered from its early contact and finished eighth in class, two laps behind Albuquerque.
Finishing at the bottom of the order were Tristan Vautier, Renger van der Zande and early retiree Bennett. Both van der Zande’s Cadillac and Bennett’s Ligier Nissan DPi were not running at the finish due to contact.
The DPi cars will join the rest of the WeatherTech Championship at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio on May 5–7.