The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Returns to the Great California Street Circuit
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After nearly two and a half years, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship eagerly awaits its return to the famous Long Beach street circuit in Southern California. The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is set for Sept. 25. Here’s what you need to know about the event.
Long Beach Street Circuit – Long Beach California
September 25, 2020
Race Day/Time: Saturday, September 25 – 5:05 p.m. ET
NBCSN Coverage: LIVE – Flag-to-flag beginning at 5 p.m.
IMSA.com/TVLive Live Qualifying Stream: Friday, September 24 – 7:45 p.m. ET
IMSA Radio: All sessions live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage begins Saturday, September 25 at 5 p.m. (XM 202, Internet channel 992)
Circuit Type: 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street course
Race Length: 100 minutes
Track Social Media:
Event Hashtags: #IMSA, #AGPLB
WeatherTech Championship Track Records
DPi: Helio Castroneves, Acura DPi, 1:11.332 / 99.321 mph, April 2019
GTLM: Nick Tandy, Porsche 911 RSR, 1:16.313 / 92.838 mph, April 2019
GTD: Bryan Sellers, Lamborghini Huracán GT3, 1:19.243 / 89.41 mph, April 2017
2019 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Winners:
DPi: Filipe Albuquerque/Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi
GTLM: Earl Bamber/Laurens Vanthoor, No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
GTD: No race in 2019
- Back to the Beach: This Saturday’s race will mark the first visit for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to Long Beach in nearly two and a half years. The 2020 race was canceled and this year’s event was postponed from its traditional April date due to the ongoing pandemic. It will be a welcome return to one of the most famous street courses in the world.
- Welcome Back, GT Daytona: In addition to the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes that last raced at Long Beach in 2019, the GT Daytona (GTD) class will compete this year for the first time in Long Beach since 2017. Seventeen GTD cars are entered, including a few fresh faces. Steven Aghakhani is making his series debut and Jacob Eidson his second career start, pairing up in the No. 26 O’Gara Motorsport/US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3. Californian James Sofronas will make his first WeatherTech Championship start since 2014 in the No. 34 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R with a co-driver to be named. Colin Braun, racing full time in the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class this season, will make his first GT class start since 2017 in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 he will share with Daniel Mancinelli. It will be Mancinelli’s series debut and the first race for the California-based Scuderia Corsa team since the Rolex 24 At Daytona to open the 2021 season.
- Points Battles Rage on: The DPi and GTD classes are embroiled in tight battles for their season championships. No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 drivers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque have a 98-point lead on No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani with two DPi races remaining. In GTD, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 pilots Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley are just 27 points ahead of No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R drivers Zacharie Robichon and Laurens Vanthoor. Roman De Angelis and Ross Gunn of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 lurk 52 points from the lead, with Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow of the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 only 86 points from the top spot with three GTD races to go. De Angelis and Gunn have more breathing room in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup contest of non-endurance races, with a 168-point edge on Auberlen and Foley.
- New Points Format for 2021: The WeatherTech Championship points structure has changed this season, with each race finishing position earning 10 times the points it received a year ago. Where a class winner took home 35 points in 2020, the reward is now 350 points. Second place in a race now earns 320 points, third place nets 300 and downward from there. In addition, points are now distributed in qualifying, with 35 going to the pole winners in DPi and GTLM, as well as to the fastest car in the second GTD qualifying session (see below). Points descend from second downward through the qualifying results.
- Revised GTD Qualifying Format: Starting this season, the GT Daytona class conducts two qualifying sessions. The first is for the Motul Pole Award and starting grid position, with a Silver- or Bronze-rated driver in each car. Following a mandatory driver change, another 15-minute session will take place to decide qualifying points for the class. All other classes in action will have a single 15-minute qualifying session that determines both grid position and points.
- 31 Cadillac: Though they had a two-race win streak snapped on Sept. 12 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Derani and Nasr still finished on the podium and haven’t placed lower than fourth since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. With just two DPi races remaining, however, they need to eat into Taylor and Albuquerque’s lead at Long Beach to set up a battle for the championship at the Motul Petit Le Mans to end the season.
- Pfaff Motorsports: The No. 9 plaid Porsche has won the last two GTD races to move squarely into the championship hunt. Vanthoor has anchored the team since joining this year and is a defending Long Beach winner since he was part of the victorious Porsche GTLM entry in 2019.
Who’s Good Here?
- Filipe Albuquerque: The veteran was the overall and prototype class winner each of the past two times at Long Beach, in 2018 and ’19. That came, however, when he drove an Action Express Racing Cadillac. He’s now in a Wayne Taylor Racing Acura.
- Milner and Tandy: Though on different teams then, No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R drivers Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner have won in three of the last four GTLM races at Long Beach – Tandy in 2016 with Porsche and Milner in 2017 and ’18 in a Corvette. They are teammates now and fresh off a win at Laguna Seca on Sept. 12.
- Action Express Racing: As winner of the last two prototype races at Long Beach, the team must be considered a favorite this year. It gives co-drivers Derani and Nasr hope to close the deficit in the DPi championship.
- Taylor Brothers: Jordan and Ricky Taylor teamed to win three consecutive Long Beach races from 2015-17, when they drove for their father’s team. Those wins came in Corvette and Cadillac prototypes. Ricky is back with Wayne Taylor Racing in an Acura this year. Jordan co-drives the No. 3 Corvette Racing GTLM entry with Antonio Garcia.
Previous Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Winners in 2021 Field (12)
Tommy Milner (3): GT – 2012; GTLM – 2017, 2018
Jordan Taylor (3): P – 2015, 2016, 2017
Ricky Taylor (3): P – 2015, 2016, 2017
Filipe Albuquerque (2): P – 2018; DPi – 2019
Bill Auberlen (2): GT – 2013; GTLM – 2015
Patrick Long (2): GT2 – 2009; GT – 2010
Colin Braun (1): PC – 2013
Antonio Garcia (1): GTLM – 2014
Misha Goikhberg (1): PC – 2016
Cooper MacNeil (1): GTD – 2017
Nick Tandy (1): GTLM – 2016
Laurens Vanthoor (1): GTLM – 2019
Previous Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Pole Winners in 2021 Field (5)
Bill Auberlen (2): GTLM – 2015, 2016
Ricky Taylor (2): P – 2015, 2017
Andy Lally (1): GTC – 2010
Bryan Sellers (1): GTD – 2017
Nick Tandy (1): GTLM – 2019
Previous Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Winning Teams in 2021 Field (5)
Corvette Racing (7): GT1 – 2007, 2008, 2009; GT – 2012; GTLM – 2014, 2017, 2018
Wayne Taylor Racing (3): P – 2015, 2016, 2017
Action Express Racing (2): P – 2018; DPi – 2019
Chip Ganassi Racing (2): DP – 2016; P – 2014
JDC-Miller MotorSports (1): PC – 2016
Previous Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Winning Manufacturers in 2021 Field (10)
Chevrolet – 9
Porsche – 9
Acura – 3
BMW – 3
Cadillac – 3
Audi – 2
Ferrari – 2
Aston Martin – 1
Lexus – 1
Mercedes-AMG – 1