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BARBOSA: Road Atlanta Debrief

Joao Barbosa recaps title run for Action Express…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

What a year!

Going into the final race of the year at Petit Le Mans, our goals were pretty high.

We had a great chance of winning all of the 2014 championships and that’s what we wanted to do!

A few weeks before the race we had a chance to test at Road Atlanta and we had a great test. We were confident that we had a good car and could achieve a great result in the race.

Obviously the track conditions were a little different in the race and our car was not as good in practice but with a few changes were able to have a good car for qualifying. Christian (Fittipaldi, co-driver) did a great job in an eventful qualifying that had only a couple of hot laps available due to several red flag periods. He made the best of it and got us the pole position for the race! What better position could you ask for?

Starting from the pole gave us the control we wanted to avoid any potential problems of starting midfield in the pack, where problems are more likely to happen.

As a team, Action Express Racing only needed to start the race to win the team championship so that was our main goal, and once the race started, it was achieved!

The next goal was to win the drivers championship for me and Christian. That’s not as easy as it looks because in motorsports anything can happen. And I’ve seen a lot of strange things happen during my career.

So at the start of the race I was very conservative, taking no risks at all as I wanted to hand over the car to Christian in good shape. I had a good first stint, being very careful with traffic, and turned the car over to Christian just after the 45 minute mark! I had won the driver championship!

What a great feeling to have won the first TUDOR United Sportscar Championship with Action Express Racing – it’s definitely the highlight of my career! I’m so proud of all the hard work and sacrifice the Action Express guys have made to achieve this!

Christian was able to complete his time without any problems and we could go racing hard for the other championship on the line, the Tequila Patron North America Endurance Cup. For this championship, we would get points at the four, eight, and 10-hour marks of the race so strategy was key.

As usual at Petit Le Mans, traffic always plays a big role on how the race develops. This is one of my favorite tracks in North America! It is technical and very demanding, a blast to drive on a clear lap but with traffic, everything changes.

You can easily lose four or five seconds in one lap depending on where you catch slower cars and it can become a real mind game. You want to go fast but you can’t because of traffic and that really tests how patient you are! I have two young sons so that helped me a lot on how to be patient!!

The key moment came later in the race when a great team strategy put us first at the eight-hour mark and we had enough points to clinch the next item on our priority list for the season, the Patron North American Endurance Cup! What a great day for everyone at Action Express Racing. Sebastien Bourdais, who joined us for our races at Daytona, Sebring, and Petit, is a great driver and addition to the team. He was a key part of achieving the Patron Endurance Cup!

We had all the championships won and the next goal was to go after the race win. Unfortunately that came up just a little short. Our Corvette was quite good in the afternoon hours with good pace and grip but unfortunately was not working as well with the very cold temperatures at night. The leading No. 10 car had a great pace during the night and I was not able to close the gap.

We came just a little short on the race win but we accomplished the goals we set out for.

It’s been an incredible year for Action Express! We completed every lap on the race schedule, we finished eight out of 11 races on the podium and won four major sports car championship titles in the final race!

We couldn’t have done all this without our great partners at Chevrolet, Continental Tire, ECR Engines and EMCO Gears. What a year!

I’m so proud of everyone at Action Express for their hard work and what they were able to achieve. This is a championship winning team and I can’t wait for 2015!

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