John Edwards and Jesse Krohn in the #24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE finished fifth in the GTLM class in the one-hour-forty-minute IMSA WeatherTech Series race on the streets of Long Beach, California. Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi in car #25 retired from the race.
IMSA organizers had penalized the M8s after their strong performance at Sebring, lowering turbo boost levels between 5,000 and 7,500 rpm and reducing fuel capacity by four liters. The change in boost levels slowed the cars; #25 qualified seventh and #24 qualified eighth, at the back of the GTLM pack. Joey Hand took the pole in the #66 Ford GT.
The team brought car #25 in for an early stop; Sims replaced De Phillippi at the wheel and the car took on enough gas to make it through the race. A yellow-flag period soon after Sims returned to the track played to the team’s strategy; Sims took the lead as the balance of the GTLM pack pitted under yellow. He led for nine laps until contact with a Porsche set him back; Earl Bamber took the lead in the Porsche, and Sims, still battling near the front of the pack, hit the wall. The #25 car came into the pits and was eventually retired.
Edwards, running seventh, moved up to sixth after the #911 Porsche fell back, and then moved into his fifth-place finishing position as Bamber had to pit the #912 Porsche with suspension problems. The class win went to Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin in the #4 Corvette.
Edwards said, “We executed a good race even though we knew we did not have the pace from qualifying. We planned to have one car do a non-traditional strategy, and it worked when Alex got the lead under yellow. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned when the # 25 car was pushed wide and hit the wall. We were able to run a clean race in the #24 car, and I think we executed well—but we did not have the pace throughout the weekend, and had to find ways to make up spots.”
At Long Beach, only the Prototype and GTLM classes ran. When IMSA runs again at Mid-Ohio on May 4–6, the GTD class will return to compete in the Sunday WeatherTech series race along with the Prototypes and GTLM cars, and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series will run on Saturday.—Brian Morgan