WeatherTech Porsche Fourth in GTC at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Cooper MacNeil and Jeroen Bleekemolen drove the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche to a fourth place GTC finish in today's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) presented by Tequila Patron Long Beach Grand Prix.
MacNeil (Hinsdale, ILL) started the white and black Porsche from pole position. Before the drop of the green flag, the field got bunched in the final turn and out of order, creating a havoc filled drag race out of the turn to the green flag. As a result, MacNeil was relegated to third position. The first quarter of the race witnessed two caution periods. The team began to play out their strategy in the short two-hour race pitting early, lap 17, to get the compulsory tire stop complete. The race went green again and the team was watching the clock to ensure that MacNeil drove his allotted time. As luck would not have it, track position conspired against them to the tune of about 30 seconds causing them to leave the University of Colorado at Buffalo student out while the rest of the GTC field pitted. The mere 30 seconds, in a short two-hour race, meant the difference between pitting and exiting in the lead and finishing fourth.
"The start was very chaotic," MacNeil said. "Everyone was out of line, by the time we got down in the last three turns. I got passed before the green even came out. At the beginning, the car was not that easy to drive. As the fuel load got lighter, it started to come back. The team had a good strategy planned, but the timing of the second yellow and our track position meant it didn't work out. Even though we were not on the podium we had a good points day."
Bleekemolen knows the challenges of running street courses.
"Today we were very unlucky," Bleekemolen said. "Street circuits make it very hard to pass. We missed our window for the driving time by about 30 seconds. We had to pit one lap later than the other cars in GTC, which put us back to fifth. It is hard to make up that gap with the faster traffic always overtaking you. It is tough when the race comes down to just 30 seconds. But the race is short, and we were just unlucky."
Alex Job, team owner, had his team in a position to take advantage of the short event.
"Street racing is tough," Job said. "We had a strategy that was all ready to play out. Under the second caution when we were supposed to pit we were just unlucky with our track position and could not come in with the rest of the GTC field. If we would have come in, we could have got out of the pits in first place and controlled the race from the front. Thirty seconds made all the difference in our two-hour race. It was too much to ask Jeroen to take it back to the front in the time left without any more yellow flags."
The team will travel to Monterey, Calif. for the American Le Mans Grand Prix of Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 9-11.
Alex Job Racing is one of the most successful teams in sports car racing with 69 wins (since 1995); including two Rolex 24 GT Class wins in 1999 and 2013. This record is supported by 48 pole positions and 106 podium finishes. The team has won four championships (GTC 2012, GT in 2004, 2003 and 2002) complimented by their two GT class wins at Le Mans. The team also boasts nine Sebring 12-hour wins.
The ALMS GTC category is specific to one of the most popular factory produced racing cars in the world, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Developed for Porsche's one-make series around the world, the new version of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is based on the road-going 911 GT3 RS. The power unit featured in the new 911 GT3 Cup is largely identical to the production engine of the 911 GT3 RS with the same output of 450 bhp and the same maximum engine speed of 8,500 rpm.