Action Express Racing has claimed back-to-back TUDOR United SportsCar Championship titles, following a Prototype class victory in Saturday’s rain-shortened Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
The No. 5 Corvette DP of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais finished third overall, behind the historic 1-2 overall finish for the Porsche and BMW GT Le Mans cars.
It was enough for the class win and championship for Barbosa and Fittipaldi, their and the team’s second consecutive. Additionally, the team claimed Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup honors.
Barbosa took over the class lead in the eighth hour following a routine pit stop for their sister No. 31 Corvette DP of Eric Curran, who had relinquished the overall lead to Nick Tandy.
An accident for the No. 11 RSR Racing Oreca FLM09 of Bruno Junqueira brought out the 10th and final full-course caution of the race, which also featured a 1 hour and 5 minute red flag for rain.
The checkered flag flew 20 minutes later, due to track conditions, ending the race some two hours early, and coming as a surprise to teams.
The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford of Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Scott Dixon finished second in class and fourth overall, after starting from the pit lane due to alternator issues in warmup.
Cameron and Curran ended up third in class in their Whelen-backed Corvette DP, ahead of the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, which faded late.
It was a race to forget for VisitFlorida.com Racing, which headed into the weekend as P class championship leaders but lost out on the title after a pair of costly mistakes.
Both Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller had separate offs in Turn 12 in the third hour, costing the No. 90 Corvette DP two laps. They, along with pole-sitter Richard Westbrook finished 12th overall and fifth in class.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports completed the endurance trifecta with a commanding class victory in Prototype Challenge, thanks to a near-flawless run by Tom Kimber-Smith, Andrew Palmer and Mike Guasch.
However, it was CORE autosport that took home the class title, its fifth consecutive teams’ championship and back-to-back for drivers Colin Braun and Jon Bennett.
Kimber-Smith finished ahead of Alex Popow for top class honors, despite an impressive late charge by the Silver-rated Venezuelan, who passed Kimber-Smith, but then spun his No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry, just as the final yellow came out.
Popow and co-drivers Renger van der Zande, Mike Hedlund and Mirco Schultis were second, with the No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports car completing the top-three in class.
It marked another major triumph for the Bobby Oergel-led PR1 squad, which scored class wins at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring and also took home the Patron Endurance Cup.
RESULTS: Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda