Action Express Racing Goes 1-2 at the WeatherTech Sportscar Sahlen 6 Hours at the Glen!
July 5, 2016
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Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa (No. 5 Action Express Raciing Mustang Sampling/Cider Tree Corvette DP) won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to take their first victory of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The drivers now have the lead in both the WeatherTech Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup standings after their victory. Barbosa finished 0.709 seconds ahead of Action Express Racing teammate Dane Cameron (No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP, co-driven by Eric Curran) at the 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International circuit. “It was probably one of the fastest-paced races that I’ve done in a while,” Barbosa said. “They did an amazing job with the repaved surface. We were able to keep up the pace for a long time. We did a few changes after qualifying and we really hit it. The team has been working really hard to get a win for the No. 5 car, and we did it in great style. It was a great race, very hard.” The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Curb Records/AERO Ligier JS P2 driven by Olivier Pla, John Pew and Ozz Negri finished third, 1.048 seconds behind.

Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe (No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) finished ahead of teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller (No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) to make it a 1-2 for Ford in the GTLM class at The Glen. The GTLM class battle was between Ford and BMW, as both Porsche and Corvette Racing were relegated to being also-rans due to the BoP numbers. (IMSA didn’t change its BoP specs after Le Mans. Now that it has hard data from The Glen, action is expected to be taken to make the Corvettes and Porsche more competitive.) The win moved the No. 67 teammates to within eight points, 159-151, of GTLM championship co-leaders Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin, (No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R). Bill Auberlen/Dirk Werner (No. 25 Rahal Letterman Lanigan IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GTLM) finished third. (Ford announced at The Glen that its factory-supported Ford GT GTLM/GTE PRO racing program will run for a minimum of three more years in both IMSA and FIA WEC competition, through the 2019 season. “We wanted to make sure everyone knows that we are committed to sports car racing globally with WEC and IMSA,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president and chief technical officer. “The stated goal of our Ford GT program was to win Le Mans, and we’re very proud that we were able to do that in our first year. To commit to a full, four-year assault on both the IMSA and WEC championships shows how serious we are about taking Ford GT racing around the world. We are in motorsport to win races and championships, but just as importantly we are using it to develop our engineering expertise and help develop advancements for production vehicles like EcoBoost engines, advanced aerodynamics and lightweight materials that consumers can use in Ford production vehicles going forward.” The first-year program currently consists of two Ford GT race cars in IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship competition, and two Ford GT race cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship.)

Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3) extended their GTD class points lead, while Jeff Segal earned his third major endurance race victory of the year at The Glen. The co-drivers of the No. 63 machine overcame a one-lap deficit that resulted from an extended pit road stay in the first half of the race to replace an engine sensor. Andy Lally, John Potter and Dion von Moltke (No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8) finished 1.837 seconds behind. “It was not an easy job to do qualifying for three hours,” Balzan said. “We were really pushing hard out there. I didn’t expect to be that competitive, Christina found a problem in the car. We had about two hours when I didn’t think we would even finish the race, but then the team and the support from Ferrari managed to fix that problem. I was really pushing 100 percent, and as the car was burning fuel, the car was getting better and better. The secret of our three is that we are having a lot of fun.” Balzan, Nielsen and Segal also combined to win the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida in March. Two weeks ago, Segal also won the GTE Am class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Scuderia Corsa Ferrari alongside 2015 WeatherTech Championship GTD co-champions Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell. Full-time drivers Balzan and Nielsen now lead the GTD standings by 13 points, 162-149, over Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas, who finished third in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R along with endurance co-driver Ian James.

Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09) made it two in a row in both 2016 Prototype Challenge (PC) competition and in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Starting from the TOTAL Pole, van der Zande joined Popow in leading four times for 101 laps. Kyle Marcelli, James French and Kenton Koch (No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09) finished second, 9.821 seconds behind. The team led twice for 88 laps in scoring its best finish of the season. Mark Kvamme, Richard Bradley and Continental Tire Challenge regular Remo Ruscitti finished third in the No. 88 Starworks Motorsport Popcorn Sutton ORECA FLM09.

Article originally appeared on Sports Car Insider | No Nonsense Sports Car Enthusiasm (http://sportscarinsider.com/).
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