TUDOR Championship: Action Express wins Brickyard Grand Prix

Winners Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi celebrate in victory lane on their Chevrolet Corvette at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo: Michael L. Levitt/LAT Photographic)

©2014, Michael L. Levitt

Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi scored their second TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory of the season, following a dominant, yet controlled drive in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Barbosa finished than 45 seconds clear of the competition, after stretching the fuel mileage of his No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP and avoiding a late stop for a splash of fuel. 

However, it didn’t matter in the end, as the Portuguese driver held control for the majority of the race, having taken over the lead with more than 1 hour and 15 minutes remaining when Sage Karam pitted his No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford from the top spot.

Co-driver Fittipaldi, meanwhile, led the early stages of the two-hour and 45-minute contest, vaulting from fourth at the start and surviving contact with Gustavo Yacaman’s OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan. 

Karam, who made an overambitious move into Turn 1 at the start, recovered and led for portions in the second hour. However, co-driver Scott Pruett was unable to challenge Barbosa in the long green flag closing stint and settled for second.

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante completed the podium in third after a relatively quiet run, aided by small setbacks by all three of the P2 cars, which had swept the top three positions in qualifying.

Pole-sitter Ryan Dalziel spun from third position with 40 minutes to go and settled for fifth in his No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b, while the Yacaman and Ho-Pin Tung-driven OAK entry struggled with damage sustained in first turn incident.

Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor also struggled all race with a damaged diffuser, caused by a separate incident at the start, but finished fourth in their Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. 

Ricky Taylor jumped from 8th to 4th in the final 20 minutes after also not making a late race stop. However, it wasn’t enough to maintain their points lead, as the duo now trail race winners Barbosa and Fittipaldi by 2 points.

Prototype Challenge:

RSR Racing broke through to claim its first Prototype Challenge win of the year, and a 1-2 finish for the Paul Gentilozzi-led squad.

A late-race move by sports car debutant Jack Hawksworth around veteran Bruno Junqueira saw the 23-year-old IndyCar rising star take the win with co-driver Chris Cumming in the No. 08 Oreca FLM09.

Hawksworth subbed for Alex Tagliani, who was on a one-race suspension by IMSA for an incident in practice at Watkins Glen.

Junqueria and co-driver Duncan Ende finished 1.422 seconds behind in second, with the pole-sitting No. 54 CORE autosport entry of Jon Bennett and Colin Braun unable to match the pace of the RSR entries and settling for third.

The No. 25 8Star Motorsports car of Luis Diaz was the dominant force in the opening hour but was lost more than two laps due to a pit lane infraction, finishing sixth. 

It opened the door for the RSR squad, which ran a flawless race and proved to be the class of the field on Friday.

GT Le Mans:

SRT Motorsports turned a series of near misses into its long awaited first victory of the season in GT Le Mans, with the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R of Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer scoring their first win as co-drivers.

Bomarito took the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R to a 10.789-second win over the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia of Pierre Kaffer, in a race that saw no fewer than four different manufacturers exchange the lead in the hotly contested category.

Pole-sitter Giancarlo Fisichella led early but relinquished the top spot after two off-course excursions for the Prancing Horse, which saw the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE of Andy Priaulx briefly take command.

However, it was the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy that appeared to be in control of the race, leading through the second hour until an engine-related issue for the Porsche North America entry with just over 60 minutes left on the clock.

It opened the door for Bomarito, who along with Wittmer, to give the Detroit automaker only its second win in IMSA competition since its return to sports car racing in 2012.

Kaffer and Fisichella scored a season-best second place finish, despite the German struggling to reach the pedals in his final stint after a miscue during the driver change.

Despite its sister Porsche retiring, the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Long and Michael Christensen completed the GTLM podium in third, ahead of both Corvette C7.Rs, which ended its four-race winning streak with rather uneventful runs.

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, however, maintain their championship lead with a fourth place finish, while co-drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner completed the top-five in their No. 4 entry.

GT Daytona:

Ferrari claimed GT Daytona class honors, with Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal co-driving the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to victory, marking the Italian manufacturer’s second straight Indianapolis win.

Balzan finished one lap ahead of the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS of Christpher Hasse, who along with Bryce Miller came home in second.

The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating completed the podium in third.

The duo, who claimed class honors at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, benefited from late-race brake issues for the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, which faded to fifth in the hands of Leh Keen.

A fourth place finish for the No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari sees Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler continue to lead the way in the championship heading into next month’s round at Road America.