Acura Teams Show Speed in Long Beach
- Acura teams, drivers quickest in both GTP and GTD
- Late-race crash while challenging for victory ends run for the Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06
- First-lap contact delays Meyer Shank Racing Acura
- Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 fights back after early deficit
Acura teams and drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship proved their speed today on the streets of Long Beach – setting the fastest laps in both GTP and GTD. But delays and incidents for all three Acura teams prevented them from reaching victory circle at Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Acura ARX-06 GTP
Starting from the pole, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 pulled away to an early lead in the hands of starting driver Filipe Albuquerque. Albuquerque continued to lead for the first 40 minutes of the 100-minute race, but issues during the single scheduled pit stop led to a delay of more than 10 seconds before second driver Ricky Taylor could resume, costing them the lead.
Taylor fought his way back into contention, but a passing attempt with just a handful of laps remaining saw Taylor slide into the Turn One barriers, ending the day for the WTRAndretti Acura.
The #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 of Tom Blomqvist and Colin Braun had an equally fraught day. Starting driver Blomqvist was tapped into a spin at the start of the race, losing a lap to the leaders as a result. Without a mid-race caution period to allow MSR to get back on the lead lap, the duo was consigned to sixth-place finish, although Blomqvist was credited with the fastest GTP race lap.
Acura NSX GT3 Evo22
In the production-based GTD class, the #66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22 of starting driver Sheena Monk was forced to come to a complete halt on track by multi-car contact just ahead of her, resulting in a track position deficit of nearly 20 seconds. But the team fought back throughout the 100-minute contest, with co-driver Katherine Legge setting fastest race lap in the GTD field while recovering to a ninth-place finish.
A second GTD Acura, the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry of Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison, featured a limited-edition Acura Chiaki’s Journey Season 2 livery for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. However, a crash in qualifying resulted in an early end to the weekend for the team, which withdrew prior to the race Saturday due to damage sustained in the accident.
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Race Results
- 6th GTP – #60 Tom Blomqvist and Colin Braun; Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06
- 7th GTP – #10 Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor; Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06
- 9th GTD – #66 Katherine Legge and Sheena Monk; Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22
- Did not start GTD [qualifying crash] – #93 Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison, Racers Edge Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22.
Colin Braun (#60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06): 6th in GTP: “A bitter day, to be honest. We had great pace all weekend. Everyone at MSR, Acura and HPD did a heck of a job, and gave a car capable of winning today. I’m just super proud of the effort from all the guys and girls involved with this program. Unfortunately, luck did not go our way at the start, and [starting driver] Tom [Blomqvist] got hit from behind. That really put us on the back foot. We needed a yellow [caution flag] to put us in position to win. But we never got the yellow – as crazy as that seems – and that was sort of that for us.”
Ricky Taylor (#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06) 7th in GTP: “I’m very sorry for Acura, HPD and the WTRAndretti team. With the [previous] Acura ARX-05, this was always the track where we had the most performance deficit to the field. It just says so much about Acura, HPD, ORECA and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport to turn our weakest track into our strongest track [with the new Acura ARX-06]. Unfortunately, we got behind with a little issue mid race, but we had such a strong car while fighting back. It came down so close in the end, if we had more time maybe I would have been more patient, but we just wanted to win this for Acura. Everyone at Acura, HPD and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport deserved to win this today and it’s just disappointing, but I’m just so proud to drive an Acura and be part of this team.”
Katherine Legge (#66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT-3 Evo22) 9th in GTD: “I’m torn about the race, because the Acura was great. We had a really fast car and I think we could’ve taken it to the front. We could pass people, which is usually really difficult at a street circuit like Long Beach. So thanks to the team, Acura and HPD for an awesome car. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a ‘magic yellow’ to help us fight our way to the front, but I think as always Acura showed their superior pace at Long Beach.”
Jon Ikeda (Vice President and Acura Brand Officer) on today’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach: “Yes, Ricky Taylor really ‘sent it’ into Turn One in an effort to win the race, and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but were we not entertained by what Ricky was trying to achieve? We’ve got fast cars and great teams racing for Acura. The WTR team fought to get back in the game [after losing time during their pit stop], and it was so close to happening for us. You have to give credit to Penske for their winning strategy; but we were right there, fighting to the end. It was entertaining, it was fantastic, and I think the large crowd we had today truly enjoyed the race.”
- Acura is a two-time series champion in the premier prototype division since joining the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018, claiming the Manufacturer, Driver and Team Daytona Prototype International (DPi) titles in both 2019 and 2020 with the Acura ARX-05.
- The Acura brand returned to IMSA sports car racing in 2017, with Meyer Shank Racing fielding a pair of new Acura NSX GT3s. Acura scored a pair of race victories and five podium finishes in a highly-successful debut season, then scored another pair of victories and finished second in the 2018 GTD championship. Developing the NSX GT3 Evo, MSR went on to win IMSA GTD championship in both 2019 and 2020, with Farnbacher taking the drivers’ title in both seasons.
The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship remains on the west coast for the next round in the series, and heads north to the Monterey Peninsula for the Motul Course de Monterey, May 12-14 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
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