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Action Express Racing’s Joao Barbosa files his first Sportscar365 column…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

First, I have to thank John Dagys for inviting me to do a column here on Sportscar365. This is my first driver column for Sportscar365 and actually, my first column ever! I’m a regular follower of the website. It’s always good to keep up with the latest news on sportscars worldwide!

I had never been to Mosport, or better, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and was excited to head up to Canada. I had heard a lot about the circuit – about how it is a real man’s track and how challenging it is.

It had been quite a while since I went to a track for the first time and I was looking forward to such a challenge.

Fortunately, my co-driver Christian Fittipaldi and I had the opportunity to do two laps around the track early on in the weekend driven by none other than Ron Fellows, the owner of the track! It was a big help and really helped speed up the learning process for both Christian and I who had never set eyes on the track before.

Who better than to give us advice? Thank you Ron!

When I took my first laps around the track in our Corvette Daytona Prototype on Friday, I found out what everyone was talking about! CTMP is a very challenging track and has very high speed corners with an average speed per lap of over 126mph. It was great!

I was able to find my pace pretty quickly and with the help of my Action Express Racing team we were competitive almost right away.

We had been quick in every practice session which had been held under sunny skies and pleasant weather conditions.

But to make things even more challenging, the forecast called for a real chance of rain for race day. When we woke up early Sunday morning, the forecast had been right and it was raining! During morning warm up, it was wet. So we got to do few laps in the rain, looking for the best line without taking any risk.

Luckily, the rains stopped and the track dried out just before the race start and it turned out to be a great day to go racing. It actually became very warm, especially inside the car.

The race itself was another challenge. I was thinking due to the characteristics of the track that we would have some yellows but it turned out to be a full green flag race from start to finish.

Unfortunately, the lack of yellows did not fall in our favor. Christian had a great start moving up from fifth to second place within the first few laps of the race but early contact with a GT car punctured our left rear tire just as Christian was crossing the start/finish line. So that not only meant an early pit stop, but also meant that he had to do a full lap slowly on the flat tire and we lost almost two laps just 20 minutes into the race.

The initial information I had during the race was that the contact was with the No. 912 but it turned out to be with another car and I mentioned the wrong car on the television broadcast so I’m sorry for that.

Racing with some of the GTLM drivers was quite challenging. We could all lose less time and avoid possible contact if there was more mutual cooperation on track – hopefully that improves through the rest of the season.

When I got in the car for the second part of the race, we were too far back and waiting on that yellow that never came. As a driver, it was quite frustrating as you drive as hard as you can for two full stints without any chance of fighting for position, so it’s hard to keep your motivation.

What kept me going and pushing was to think ahead. The goal was to race a clean race, minimize any damage and think about championship points, so I kept pushing and we finished fourth. We were able to get both of our laps back and gain time on the leaders.

On a day when things don’t go your way, it’s important to get the most points possible, and that’s what we did.

The P2 prototypes were clearly at home on the CTMP track. It had the characteristics that really suited that car, with very high speed corners, where downforce is key, and not very long straights.

This is turning out to be a great first TUDOR United Sportscar Championship. No team is dominating and there have been several different winners in different cars and the championship is still wide open.

We have a great team in Action Express behind us that supports us 100 percent and we can definitely turn our luck around and get back to the top of the podium. Let’s start in Indy! That would be great.

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