The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has their first sprint race of 2023 Saturday afternoon on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. 28 teams in three classes will race for 100 minutes on the treacherous 1.968-mile street course. The LMP2 teams will return next month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, while LMP3 teams will return at Watkins Glen in June.
In the GTP class, eight teams will do battle Saturday. There are no new teams that did not compete in Sebring, nor any teams that raced in Sebring that are skipping the weekend.
As a result, there will be two Cadillac V-Series.Rs, two Acura ARX-06s, two BMW M Hybrid V8s and two Porsche 963s that will take each other on. In the DPi era, Long Beach favored naturally aspirated cars. That meant the Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Cadillac won all five races at Long Beach in the DPi era. GM-powered cars have won the last seven races at Long Beach with Corvette DPs winning in 2015 and 2016. The only time that a turbocharged car has won at Long Beach overall since the ALMS-Grand-Am merger was when Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won in 2014 with their Ford EcoBoost-powered Riley DPG3.
The GTD Pro class has only five entries, down from eight at Sebring. One of those teams that competed at Sebring, Turner Motorsport, has moved what was their No. 95 entry to the GTD class as part of an unusual situation in which the car will compete in GTD Pro for the Michelin Endurance Cup races only.
The additional teams that are not entered from Sebring are Iron Lynx’s No. 63 Lamborghini, which is confirmed for the Michelin Endurance Cup races only, and Risi Competizione’s Ferrari. The Risi team has a platinum team license that could allow them to compete full-time, but the team has largely cherry-picked races in recent years.
The other five teams (Corvette Racing, WeatherTech Racing, Pfaff Motorsports, VasserSullivan’s No. 14 and The Heart of Racing’s No. 23) have no driver changes. They are running their full-time driving pairings.
The GTD class has 15 teams entered, down from 20 at Sebring. Teams that are not entered include AF Corse, Cetilar Racing and Triarsi Competizione, all Ferrari teams teams that are endurance only. They are joined by Magnus Racing, Iron Lynx’s Iron Dames team and Wright Motorsports’ No. 16.
The No. 16 Porsche was originally going to be full-time before the air restrictor rules for the new 992-based Porsche 911 GT3 R rendered the car uncompetitive at Daytona. Once that happened, Ryan Hardwick acquired a ride in the FIA World Endurance Championship in addition to his seat with Proton Competition in the European Le Mans Series and intends to focus on that this season.
Changes to the Balance of Performance after an open test session at Sebring allowed for a 5 millimeter bigger air restrictor. As a result, the Porsches were more competitive, but Hardwick chose to stick to his guns. Those same restrictor rules for Porsches are still in effect for Long Beach.
Racers Edge Motorsports with WTR has also entered their Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 with their full-time Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS lineup of Mario Farnbacher and Ashton Harrison. Harrison has never previously raced at Long Beach in GT equipment, but has a very experienced teammate. Farnbacher finished second in GTD just last year at Long Beach in the sole sprint race appearance of the year for Gradient Racing.
Assuming that something doesn’t happen to force a withdrawal, Saturday’s race will be Racers Edge’s first IMSA sprint race since 2011, when the team raced a Mazda RX-8 in the GT class for Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach is scheduled to go green at 5 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. The race will air live on USA.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.