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Porsche Shocks the Field to Take the Overall Victory10/3/2015
Assisted by the challenging conditions, several GT Le Mans (GTLM) competitors kept pace with their Prototype counterparts. Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet won overall in the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR, followed by John Edwards, Lucas Luhr and Jens Klingmann in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTLM. Barbosa took third overall in the combined results.
Fittipaldi and Barbosa entered the event tied for second with Action Express teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, six points behind VisitFlorida.com Racing’s Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante, 279-273. After Westbrook dominated the opening two hours of the race, a pair of spins on successive restarts by co-drivers Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller cost the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP two laps, resulting in a fifth-place finish.
Curran led 30 laps down the stretch, pitting and turning the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP over to Dane Cameron shortly after the 11th caution of the race waved due to a spin by Prototype Challenge (PC) driver Bruno Junqueira. That gave the lead to Barbosa, who led six laps under the caution before race officials made the decision to wave the checkered flag.
As a result, Fittipaldi and Barbosa unofficially came out on top in the final standings with 309 points, followed by Westbrook and Valiante with 306, and Curran and Cameron with 304.
Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Scott Dixon finished second in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, placing fourth in the championship. They were followed by Curran, Cameron and Max Papis in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP, while defending Petit Le Mans winners Ricky and Jordan Taylor with Max Angelelli finished fourth in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP.
It was the second victory of the season for the Action Express trio, who won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. Fittipaldi and Barbosa won three races and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in 2014, clinching the two titles with a second-place finish at Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda. Saturday, Action Express again doubled up, clinching TUDOR Championship and Patrón Endurance Cup crowns with a victory in the Road Atlanta classic.
- Ozz Negri and John Pew managed 100 laps in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing AERO Honda/Ligier JS P2. That was a feat in itself, considering that the car sustained major damage during an incident in Thursday’s night practice after Negri set the fastest lap of the weekend earlier in the day. The damaged car was taken to Elan Motorsports in nearby Braselton, where Elan and DeltaWing Racing worked all night making repairs, returning it to the track at 9 a.m. on Friday.
- The 2015 champions will be recognized at the TUDOR Night of Champions on Monday evening at the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta. The next activity for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be a two-day test at Daytona International Speedway, Nov. 17-18.
Christian Fittipaldi – No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP
“It was an awesome day for the whole team. The whole thing starts back at the workshop. In two years, this car has only missed one lap and that was under reasons not under our control. Myself, Joao and Seb just try to execute as much as we can with what they prepare for us. I can’t say how happy we are with two championships in a row. When you’re at the top, competition naturally wants to knock you down. We would have done the same thing with other guys on the top. We are going to continue to work hard, but we are very confident to put it together again. So I’m looking forward to next season.”
Joao Barbosa – No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP
“[Being called champion] sounds good, can you repeat it? It sounds really good. The goal we had coming into this year was to try and win another one. Action Express, the team is expected to win. We come in with the same mentality. We want to go all the way to the end. This was no different, we came in with a deficit to the No. 90 car, so we wanted to win the race and get the best. This was not the conditions we were expecting or how we would end the year. Luckily we had the right strategy. We lasted without making any mistakes, and it was stressful to not put a wheel wrong.”
Scott Pruett – No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley
“Strange race, crazy race, wet race. One of the worst since 2001 when we won at Le Mans. We weren’t racing out there, we were just trying to survive. There were times you couldn’t see, just nothing. We had a solid car all weekend, but rain is always the great equalizer. It’s crazy to see a GTLM car winning overall.”