Action Express Racing wins Prototype race and titles; Gavin/Milner third in GTLM
Barbosa, Fittipaldi take second straight Prototype Driver’s Championship and Tequila Patrón Endurance Cup; win Prototype race with Sebastien Bourdais
Garcia, Magnussen claim Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in GT Le Mans
Gavin, Milner bookend season with GTLM podium finishes in No. 4 Corvette C7.R
BRASELTON, Ga. – A damp Petit Le Mans ended Saturday with Corvette Racing and the Corvette Daytona Prototype program claiming titles in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais won the Prototype class of the rain-shortened race – it ran just shy of eight hours of its 10-hour duration. Driving the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, Barbospa and Fittipaldi also captured their second straight Prototype Driver’s Championship as well as their second straight title in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“Congratulations to Joao, Christian, Sebastien and the Action Express Racing No. 5 Corvette DP on their second consecutive championship,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The drivers and crew demonstrated an absolute ‘Never-Give-Up’ approach throughout today’s rain-soaked conditions. Their perseverance and consistent performance resulted in the team also winning the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
“Thank you to all the Corvette Daytona Prototype teams for their efforts to secure the Manufacturer and North American Endurance Cup championships once again for Chevrolet,” Campbell added.
Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner placed third in GT Le Mans after leading the race overall on multiple occasions. The No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R started the season with a podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and ended it in like fashion.
Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R also ended the season in championship style by winning the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in GT Le Mans. The competition consists of the TUDOR Championship’s four endurance races: Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours at The Glen and Petit Le Mans. Garcia and Magnussen won at Daytona and Sebring with Ryan Briscoe to put themselves in control of the championship.
For the Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R teams, the 2015 season was filled with incredible successes and a few challenges along the way,” Campbell said. “The season started strong with the class win at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and Sebring 12 Hours, and it continued with the eighth class win in the Le Mans 24 Hours – sports car racing’s Triple Crown. And after some challenging races, it was great to have the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team clinch the GTLM title in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup championship. Having the No. 4 Corvette C7.R on the podium adds to a great close to our season.”
Gavin began from pole position in class and ran among the leaders for most of his double-stint. He recovered from a minor off in his second stint before handing off to Milner. He drove a storming double-stint to move into the class lead nearly the halfway mark and then the overall lead a couple laps later before handing back over to Gavin.
Not long after the pit stop, race officials threw a red flag to halt the race due to the deteriorating conditions. The stoppage lasted about 30 minutes before the race resumed under full-course yellow conditions. Two more yellows came out over the final hour before the race was called.
Garcia and Magnussen challenged for the class and overall lead at different points, as well. Magnussen led for two laps after the No. 4 Corvette pitted near the 4:15 mark. However a pair of unscheduled pit stops – one early and one with an hour to go hampered their chances.
The Prototype race was a back-and-forth affair with all four Corvette DPs battling for the lead throughout. Action Express Racing ended with two cars on the Prototype podium – the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP in first and the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette Daytona Prototype of Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Max Papis placing third.
In addition the results netting another title for Barbosa and Fittipaldi, VisitFlorida.com Racing’s Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante unofficially placed second in the Driver’s Championship with their No. 90 Corvette DP. Cameron and Curran, in their first season together in Prototypes, placed third in Driver’s points.
Barbosa and Fittipaldi also won the Prototype championship in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup for the second straight season, as well.
The VisitFlorida.com Racing No. 90 Corvette DP and pole-winner Westbrook led early and were out front for most of the first two hours. The treacherous track conditions induced a pair of spins for the VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP.
The element of rain added extra drama for the other three Corvette DPs, as well. The Prototype race turned into mostly three-way battle between the two Action Express Corvette DPs and defending race winners Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli in the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP. They eventually placed fifth in class.
The 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opens with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31 from Daytona International Raceway.
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – THIRD IN GTLM: “Finishing on the podium really bookends our season. We started off the year at Daytona with pole position and finishing third. We got pole position here and ended up finishing third. About 25 minutes ago before they decided to checker the race, we were in the lead. With strategy and such, it was going to come around to us again that we were going to be in the top two. The Porsche was quick. Were we going to beat them in these conditions? Unlikely. But it was all about survival today. When I had my off early on in the race I was thinking that maybe had blown it for us and I was thinking about what I said to people before I got in the car about being smart and surviving and not doing something crazy. Then I just got into turn one a little bit too deep and just ran a little bit wide and once it was on the grass, I was a passenger. That was frustrating. But Tommy (Milner) drove really well. We had a good strategy. The guys worked really well in the pits and we marched ourselves back to the front and then we were there genuinely on pace which was nice. You can take a lot of positives from the results we had here today. We had a strong start to the season, we are having a strong finish. We can carry that over to 2016 and look forward.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTTE C7.R – THIRD IN GTLM: “The end result is good. There were good fights when the track conditions were good. I’m glad we’re on the podium because I think we earned it and deserved it. Our Corvette C7.R was great, and the Michelin tires were good. Our pit stops were great all day. We did everything we needed to do to have a good race. It would have been a shame to not get a podium after the pace we showed. I’m a little unhappy with how the race ended – staying out in track conditions that were pretty much undriveable. But we made it through and here we are in third.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – SIXTH IN GTLM, TEQUILA PATRÓN NORTH AMERICAN ENDURANCE CUP GTLM CHAMPION: “My approach wasn’t quite like surviving; I was going. The car worked really good. All that I couldn’t do in qualifying yesterday I was able to do today. I had good rhythm, and everything seemed to be very good. I took every opportunity I had to pass the 25 BMW, the 62 BMW, and then closed up on Oliver (Gavin) in the 4 Corvette and the 24 BMW. Halfway through that stint, I felt something funny on the rear of the car, and I asked the team if there was something wrong with the pressures. We found out that the nut was loose and we lost track position. Thankfully it didn’t come all the way loose. I went all the way to the back again but was on the move again under green. That’s how good the car was.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – SIXTH IN GTLM, TEQUILA PATRÓN NORTH AMERICAN ENDURANCE CUP GTLM CHAMPION (Winning the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup): “That’s definitely something. I am glad we came away with a championship this year. The way things were going it didn’t look like it. I’m so very happy and super proud for the whole crew to win that one.”
(On the race): “When the conditions were just a normal wet track, the car was really good and we were competitive. That’s a little bit new for us. But the conditions sometimes got so, so bad, and I don’t understand why they didn’t call a red flag or call the race earlier. At the end there I was screaming on the radio that they needed to stop this right now, it was so dangerous. They stopped the race and that was a good decision.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “Sanctioning bodies can control most everything in a racing event. What they can’t control is a team’s enthusiasm, passion and drive. Today, Corvette Racing once again demonstrated against insurmountable odds their ability to get the job done. Winning at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, plus the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, shows why Corvette Racing is renowned as the world’s best endurance team.”
CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE QUOTES
JOAO BARBODA, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP – PROTOTYPE RACE WINNER AND DRIVER CHAMPION: “It was just an unbelievable way to end the championship. Obviously we are super happy to win two championships in a row. This one was definitely really, really tough. It came down to checkered flag last lap. Conditions were really tough out there and very dangerous to be out there at the end. But overall it was a great effort to win the championship. Our goal in the beginning was to defend the championship, and we did it in kind of a dramatic way. It came right there at the end. I’m so proud to be a part of the Action Express guys and the commitment and passion they have for the sport. I think that is making all the difference.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP – PROTOTYPE RACE WINNER: “These were very tricky conditions today for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. We did the job. There were different strategies out there, but when the second part of my time in the car, we were leading the race. The good thing is once the No. 90 fell back farther than a podium, it was an Action Express that was going to win the championship. We have something to celebrate tonight.”
ERIC CURRAN, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 31 WHELEN ENGINEERING/TEAM FOX CORVETTE DP – THIRD IN PROTOTYPE: “Overall it was quite a day here at Road Atlanta. The weather conditions were absolutely insane. But as usual, the Action Express guys gave us a phenomenal Whelen Corvette Daytona Prototype. We were good all day and fought through the conditions. I’m just so happy that the No. 5 guys won a championship and Chevrolet won another manufacturer championship. It is a really big deal. Obviously on the No. 31 side, we would have loved to have won the championship, but it is give and take and it was such a successful season the first year out. To be fighting for a championship at the end of the year makes us all happy. I’m just really proud for Chevrolet, Action Express and our Whelen Engineering Corvette DP team.”
MAX ANGELELLI, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING NO. 10 CORVETTE DP – FOURTH IN PROTOTYPE: “It was very, very bizarre and very unfortunate for our racing team. We race with rain, that is not a problem, we always do. What was weird were some calls that were made today, like dropping the yellows only because of crashes even though the track was bad well before the crashes occurred, and then go green well before the track was good to go green again. That’s the only thing I would have a problem with about today. Otherwise, it was a very unsatisfying way to end the race and the season after all of the hard work we did to get to the front. The way the checkered flag came out before any kind of normal procedure was followed, as far as opening the pits according to the rulebook and giving other teams the chance to execute the strategy decisions they made to pit or not during that yellow. It was all just very, very strange – very, very bizarre.”
JIM LUTZ, CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE PROGRAM MANAGER: “To say it was a challenging day today at Road Atlanta is an understatement. But our Corvette Daytona Prototype teams performed and executed to the best of their abilities. Congratulations go to Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, team owner Bob Johnson and everyone at Action Express Racing on another Prototype championship and class victory. It’s a great way to end the 2015 season.”