# 4 Tommy Milner averts chaos on final lap to win GTLM over teammate # 3 Antonio Garcia on Streets of Long Beach
The C7.R GTLM Corvettes were headed for a hard fought 1-2 finish against Ford, BMW, Porsche and Ferrari. With under 12 minutes to go, Antonio Garcia driving the # 3 was on fresher tires and took the lead. Tommy Milner in the # 4 got past Ryan Briscoe in the # 67 Ford GT.
That outcome suddenly evaporated. On the final lap, one of the GTD cars recklessly triggered a 3 car pile-up in the hairpin turn. Approaching the wreck under caution, Garcia went outside and Milner went inside to prevent Briscoe from getting past. After slowing to a near stop, Milner slipped through. Poor Garcia was helplessly blocked behind. Watch the action wind down on video.
Why not a full course yellow preserving the finishing order? What about a red flag freezing the remaining cars in place? The answer per IMSA was the race was officially over. Checker flag out, DPi winner Jordan Taylor (# 10 Caddy) had already crossed the finish line.
Jan Magnussen in the # 3 won the GTLM pole by virtue of a clean qualifying lap. Toni Vilander in his # 62 Risi Ferrari 488 felt he had the faster car all weekend. But emotion got the best of him. He jumped the start, crashed into the Nissan DPi of Ed Brown and was out of the race. Avoiding the incident caused some nose damage to the # 3. Magnussen fell back and recovered, handing off to Garcia on yet another perfectly executed pit stop. All to naught, Garcia was scored 5th in GTLM after finally making his way past the pile-up.
Oliver Gavin in the # 4 started 5th in GTLM and stayed with the leaders before handing off mid-race to Milner, the surprised winners.
16 GTD cars (FIA GT3 spec comprising 7 different marques) occupied nearly half the field. Crashes and scrapes seem to indicate that the 2017 record 35 entries are too many for the confines of the 2-mile street circuit. In contrast, 46 entries at Sebring and 52 entries at Daytona are no such problem. All 3 events event now draw crowds from afar as much for the spectacle as for the racing.
Results compiled by Wayne Ellwood. Photos credit Richard Prince, Eric Gwatny & Martin Spetz.
The Pratt & Miller team stops for a tribute hosted at the NCM on April 27-28 before heading to CoTA on May 6-7. We hope to provide first-hand coverage.