Action Express triumphs again in TUDOR Championship race at Road America
Action Express Racing went back-to-back in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi coming out on top in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.
Barbosa held off a late challenge from Ozz Negri to give the No. 5 Corvette DP its third victory of the year, aided by split pit strategies for Prototype class competitors in the caution-filled two-hour and 45-minute race.
The Portuguese ace, along with Negri and the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Scott Sharp, pitted under yellow with just over one hour to go, while race leader Memo Rojas didn’t come in for service until nearly 20 minutes later.
With the No. 01 Ganassi Riley-Ford Scott Pruett and Richard Westbrook’s Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP stuck behind traffic in the stop-start closing 40 minutes, it gave prime track position to Barbosa, who cruised to a 2.240-second victory.
Negri got around the No. 1 ESM HPD of Ryan Dalziel on the final restart with 10 minutes to go to give he and co-driver John Pew a season-best second place finish in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford, while Dalziel and Sharp settled for third, the best of the P2 runners.
The top-five in the P class was completed by SDR’s Westbrook and Michael Valiante and the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette DP of Burt Frisselle and Eric Curran.
It was a big points day for Barbosa and Fittipaldi, who extend their championship lead to 16 points over the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, following a steering failure for Jordan Taylor, which resulted in retirement with 30 minutes to go.
OAK Racing’s championship also took a turn for a worse after contact between Olivier Pla and the No. 2 ESM HPD of Johannes van Overbeek, which saw the French squad end its day in the barriers and record its first DNF of the season.
Fortunes were better for the DeltaWing of Andy Meyrick and Katherine Legge, which recorded its first finish of the season in 8th overall, 6th in class, after mixing it with the leaders all race.
Pruett and Rojas, meanwhile, finished 7th in class.
In Prototype Challenge, Starworks Motorsport broke through for its second class win of the year, thanks to quick pit work and a fight out of the pit lane that went in the favor of Renger van der Zande.
The Dutchman, teamed with Mirco Schultis, edged out the No. 25 8Star Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Sean Rayhall by just 0.415 seconds at the line for the class win, and 6th place overall result.
Rayhall and co-driver Luis Diaz dominated the race, only losing the lead in the final round of pit stops, which saw the two cars make contact exiting pit road. No penalty was issued to either car.
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports entry of Stephen Simpson and Chris Miller scored their first podium finish of the season in third.
Simpson benefited from a late-race incident between two other PC cars that sent the third-placed No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry of Gunnar Jeannette into the pit wall on a restart.
Championship leaders CORE autosport also had to day to forget, with Colin Braun crashing out after contact from the No. 38 Performance Tech entry of David Ostella, who received a penalty for avoidable contact.
Braun’s Oreca FLM09, however, suffered significant damage and lost nearly 10 laps in the garage for repairs. It finished 8th in class.
GT Le Mans:
Risi Competizione and Turner Motorsport controlled the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona categories, respectively.
Risi started ninth with Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer in the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia, but a methodical drive forward in the first hour positioned them strongly after the first few cautions in the two-hour, 45-minute race.
Once Fisichella handed over to Kaffer, Kaffer was able to hold off the BMWs and Porsches behind him in the limited green flag running during his stint.
Dirk Mueller attempted to pass Kaffer off Turn 2 and on the run to Turn 3 with just 20 minutes remaining, but was unable to make the move stick.
It marks Risi’s first victory of the season and second consecutive podium, after ending second at Indianapolis last race.
BMW Team RLL made it back to the podium for the first time since Monterey in May, with Mueller and polesitter John Edwards second in the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE. This is the pair’s first podium since Long Beach in April, when they finished second.
Mueller had to hold off Jonathan Bomarito for second in the final stages, only ahead by 0.075 of a second at the line.
Bomarito had made a late move on Michael Christensen for third place at Turn 3 with 15 minutes to go, to bring the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R onto the podium for the fourth straight race.
Bomarito shared with Kuno Wittmer, and the pair closed in the championship chase with the points-leading No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia only sixth.
The sister Viper, the No. 91 of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens, made it up to fourth by the checkered flag. Christensen, who co-drove with Patrick Long, ended fifth in the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR.
Turner’s third win of the year in GTD was a clinical start-to-finish performance by Markus Palttala and Dane Cameron in the No. 94 BMW Z4 GT3, who basically led from start to finish.
Palttala inherited the pole position once the actual GTD polesitter, the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage qualified by James Davison, was withdrawn following its accident in the morning warmup.
Other than the first pit stop cycle when the No. 19 Muehlner Motorsports America Porsche 911 GT America cycled through by pitting later than the rest of the field, the BMW was the class of the field. Cameron retook the lead once he took over the car and was rarely challenged.
That said, Cameron said post-race that the numerous restarts from the six full-course cautions made it a challenge for the BMW, which excels over long stints.
Alex Job Racing came up shy of its first win of the season, with Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil scoring their first podium and season-best result of second in the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America.
The Dempsey Racing-prepared Snow Racing No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America of Jan Heylen and Madison Snow ended third, courtesy of a strong drive after starting seventh. Heylen held off Jeroen Bleekemolen by a half second at the line.
The No. 33 Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R (Bleekemolen and Ben Keating) and No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler) completed the top five.
The Bell/Sweedler car still leads the GTD points standings by three points unofficially, as MacNeil and Keen have gained ground with this result.