Filipe Albuquerque holds off Ricky Taylor to win BUBBA Burger Long Beach Grand Prix

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Action Express’ Filipe Albuquerque took the checkered flag first in Saturday’s BUBBA Burger Long Beach Grand Prix, narrowly holding off Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor to win the race on the popular street course for the second straight year.

Taylor’s Acura-powered machine was within striking distance of Albuquerque’s Cadillac, but got caught up in lapped traffic on the final lap, essentially giving the win to the No. 5 Action Express team.

“Ricky was just really quick. Mustang Sampling just did a amazing job with the strategy. We had a hard start and we still came back. I Love it!” Albuquerque told NBCSN following his victory.

Albuquerque would take the lead with 41 minutes remaining in the race to after coming out of the pits ahead of both Penske DPis, and would not cease the lead for the remainder of the race. It was the first victory for Albuquerque and co-driver Joao Barbosa’ since the duo won last year’s Long Beach GP.

With Action Express taking the top spot on the podium, and the Ricky Taylor/Helio Castroneves combo finishing second, Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya would finish third, putting both Penske Acuras on the podium, seemingly appropriate with tomorrow’s NTT IndyCar Series event on the track is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The race for the DPi victory was an incident-filled one, with the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P piloted by Jonathan Bomarito making contact with the No. 54 Nissan of Jonathan Bennett in turn 8 in lap 2, causing the Mazda to spin and make contact with the outside wall. The No. 55 would finish the race 15th overall.

The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac was the first retirement of the afternoon after Renger van der Zande made contact with the turn 9 concrete, ending the day for the DPi co-points leaders.

The No. 50 Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi of Will Owen also made contact with a tire barrier with six minutes remaining, after a relatively successful afternoon that saw the team lead earlier in the race with Kyle Kaiser behind the wheel.

Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porche 911 would lead Jan Magnussen’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R to the checkered flag to claim the GT Le Mans class class victory in the race. Magnussen limped across the finish line after making contact  with the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller on the last lap, sending Mueller into the wall.

The second Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner would finish third in the GTLM class.

The next race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season is the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, May 5. NBCSN will have live flag-to-flag coverage of the race, beginning at 1:30 p.m. E.T.

Full Race results 

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”