39th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
By Martin Gonzales
We're back to the Roar by the Shore for another weekend full of 4 wheeled entertainment. The gourmet food trucks were out in full force, the libations were flowing and the eye candy was every which way you looked – but even then it was difficult to keep our eyes off the on-track action at all times. There really is something to keep every type of motorsports enthusiast or gear head entertained for hours on end. The 39th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach showcased racing from the American Le Mans Series, Firestone Indy Lights, IZOD Indy Car Series, and the Pirelli World Challenge. But Long Beach doesn't only hold surprises for the fans, it has plenty to throw at the teams and drivers tackling the 1.968 mile street course.
As usual the racing started on Saturday with the American Le Mans Series. The other series do practice and qualify, but ALMS gets top and only billing on Saturday. Long Beach is the second stop of the ALMS 2013 season and it is also the shortest race of the season. This means the teams have very little room for error. One mistake in the pits or a missed turn could mean the race.
|In the GT class the field was concerned with the speed of the SRT Vipers. Their straightline speed would be hard to match and with both Vipers qualifying 1 and 3, it would be very difficult to gain positions in the tight streets of Long Beach.|
|This was also going to be the first time the new BMW Z4s hit the streets of Long Beach. Qualifying 5th and 8th, both cars would have their hands fulls trying to get a podium finish.|
|When the teams lined up for the start, it was the #12 Lola B12/60-Toyota of Team Rebellion Racing leading the pack of 33 cars. This would be one of the few times we would get to see the 3 P1 cars fighting for position.|
During qualifying Dyson's Mazda powered Lola gave up the ghost and the team had to go to their back up engine. Knowing they would be down on speed, at the start of the race Dyson tried to squeeze the Toyota powered Lola far to the outside of the straightaway, and then back inside as they approached turn 1 making a little contact. Both attempts failed to keep the Toyota back and the Dyson car then became HPD's problem.
|It was apparent the Dyson car was having problems negotiating almost every turn. The HPD Muscle Milk ARX-03a was clearly faster in every section of the track, except the straights. Growing more and more frustrated as they saw the Rebellion team pulling away, the HPD prototype finally made its move as the two cars made their way down Pine Ave. into turn 8. Dyson once again tried to defend, but the ARX-03a got a good run on him and was able to pull of the pass.|