Action Express Racing has claimed victory in Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi leading a 1-2 for the Corvette DP squad in an action-packed race.
Barbosa crossed the line 0.709 seconds ahead of teammate Dane Cameron, who held off a late charge by Olivier Pla in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda.
The third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup was turned upside down in the final hour, following retirements for both the No. 55 Mazda Prototype and No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Honda, which both led.
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Despite a series of late-race yellows, it gave clear sailing to the pair of Corvette DPs, with the defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champions picking up their first win of the season.
Additionally, Barbosa and Fittipaldi take over sole leadership of the Prototype championship standings.
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP of Ricky and Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli was fourth, ahead of the lone-remaining No. 70 Mazda, which completed the top-five overall.
Engine trouble struck two of the contending P2 cars, with Pipo Derani stopping at the Bus Stop with 1 hour and 10 minutes remaining with no oil pressure, after overcoming power steering issues earlier in the race.
Derani and co-drivers Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek were seeking their third consecutive Patron Endurance Cup win, but still managed to score crucial points by leading at the halfway mark of the race.
Forty minutes after ESM’s misfortunes, the Mazda was also out of the race with engine failure in the hands of Jonathan Bomarito.
It came after standout drives by Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot, who both put the throwback-liveried No. 55 car in the lead in what was undoubtedly Mazda’s strongest race to date.
Starworks Motorsport, meanwhile, scored back-to-back wins in Prototype Challenge, both at The Glen and in the 2016 season, with Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow.
Van der Zande edged out the No. 38 Performance Tech Oreca FLM09 of Kyle Marcelli by 9.821 seconds, in what was another dominant run in the final 90 minutes for the Peter Baron-led team.
The Dutchman took over the lead following the second-to-final round of pit stops from the Performance Tech entry, which paced the field in the hands of both James French and Kenton Koch.
Starworks’ sister No. 88 car completed the class podium in third, thanks to a late-race pass by Richard Bradley on the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry of Stephen Simpson.
The class again had its share of incidents, highlighted by a heavy crash by Johnny Mowlem in the opening hour, after making contact with French in the backstraight.
Mowlem was OK but it triggered the first of six full-course cautions, including four in the final 90 minutes of the race.
Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe scored their second consecutive GT Le Mans class win in the No. 67 Ford GT, with Joey Hand making it a 1-2 sweep with an impressive late-race charge.
On the heels of its dominating Le Mans showing, the Ford GT once again proved to be the fastest car of the field, with Westbrook and Hand’s No. 66 Le Mans-winning chassis putting in some blistering pace in a caution-filled final hour of the race, even improving upon Saturday’s new qualifying record.
While the No. 67 car was in control for most of the race, it was the sister No. 66 car who fought back from outside the top-five with a quick final pit stop and overtakes on both Corvettes and the No. 68 Scudaria Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE.
However, it was Hand’s final pass around the outside of the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M6 GTLM of Bill Auberlen in the closing laps that was the hardest, with the Californian running wide outside the track for second.
Following their struggles with the new WEC-spec Michelin tires at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, BMW bounced back with a third place class finish as the M6 GTLM was effectively to only car to match the pace of the Ford GT.
The No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari looked to be on course for a podium finish, but lost out to Hand’s Ford and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R to finish fifth in the end.
While the C7.R lacked the ultimate lap times, Corvette still had a solid showing with Milner and Oliver Gavin finishing fourth in the No. 4 car.
They maintain their championship lead, as Westbrook and Briscoe move up to second in the standings, only eight points behind.
Porsche, meanwhile, struggled, with both cars finishing at the rear of the field.
GT Daytona honors went to the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Jeff Segal, Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, with the latter keeping the hard-charging Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS of Andy Lally behind.
The turbocharged Ferrari bounced back after dropping down one lap in the third hour, due to a lengthy pitstop to replace an engine sensor.
The No. 23 Heart of Racing/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R completed the podium, as Jeroen Bleekemolen’s No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R lost two positions in the final minutes to come home fourth in class.
The No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi that had led for most of the race fell back in the final hour due to a slow pitstop and a drive-through penalty for jumping a restart, resulting in only a sixth place finish for Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell.
A number of other contenders, including the No. 6 Stevenson Audi and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, dropped back with tire failures attributed to new curbing and debris.