Joao Barbosa has has been dropped from JDC-Miller Motorsports’ lineup with immediate effect, with the two-time IMSA prototype champion out of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R for the three remaining WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races of the season.
Tristan Vautier will assume driving duties of the car alongside Sebastien Bourdais, with Loic Duval still scheduled as the third driver for Motul Petit Le Mans and season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The surprise move comes amid a strong season-long performance by Barbosa and Bourdais, who finished on the podium in first three races of 2020 and had been second in the DPi points standings prior to the most recent round at Mid-Ohio.
A reason for Barbosa’s departure has not been disclosed. The Portuguese driver had long been associated with Mustang Sampling, having along with the sponsor, moved from Action Express Racing to the Minnesota-based team this year.
“We can’t thank Joao enough for making the move with us to JDC-Miller Motorsports this year as we embarked on the next chapter for Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA’s premier class,” said Ken Thompson, President and CEO of Mustang Sampling.
“The impact that Joao made in helping the team take the first step in a performance increase was immeasurable and for that we are extremely grateful.
“Joao has been and continues to be one of the greatest ambassador’s for sports car racing in the United States and globally.
“As he focuses on the next chapter of his career, Brenda and I wish him the best in all his future endeavors.
“He’s been with us every step of the way since we joined IMSA in 2015 and been a key to our championships and race wins.”
Vautier has spent the majority of the season in JDC-Miller’s sister No. 85 Cadillac and recently competed in the six-hour Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta round with Barbosa and Bourdais.
“When we joined JDC-Miller Motorsports at the beginning of the year, we knew that there would be some areas to grow in our efforts of chasing another IMSA Championship,” added Thompson.
“We were thrilled to start the season with three straight podiums but understand there’s still work to be done and the best thing we can do is use the remaining events in the 2020 season to prepare for 2021.
“Our focus remains on winning the championship and powering our partners at Cadillac to another manufacturers title this season.”
Bourdais, meanwhile, is expected to depart the team at seasons’ end, having signed a full-season NTT IndyCar Series ride with AJ Foyt for 2021.
“Racing is constantly evolving,” said Bourdais. “Despite evolutions, as a driver you approach every race with the singular focus of winning.
“If you’re focused on winning, pushing the car to its limits, everything else will fall into place.
“I’m looking forward to finishing the year on a strong note and making every effort to get the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R into victory lane.”
Details on the team’s driver lineup for the 2021 season will be confirmed “at a later date” according to a team statement.