Driver Spotlight: Joao Barbosa
Driver:, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Action Express Racing Corvette DP
Petit Le Mans saw some of the most extreme driving conditions we’ve seen. What were you going through as a driver?
“It was really, probably, the worst conditions I’ve ever had to face on a race track. The amount of water on the track, fighting for a championship, and we knew we had to win that race for a chance to make it happen. My thoughts were to go as fast as possible to win the race but not make any mistakes which was very, very difficult to do because some of the driving skills that you use are not very good in the wet because it’s very unpredictable.
“My thoughts were we have to go into the race without any mistakes and trying to get through the race safe. The torrential rain kind of made everything a nightmare being behind the wheel but the Continental tires obviously performed very well in extreme wet conditions, very tough tough track conditions as well. My thoughts were, ‘When are we going to finish this race!'”
Congrats on back-to-back championships. Talk about the 2015 season and what it took to win this championship.
“This was a very different season. Last year we ran as a one-car team and this year we ran as a two-car team, so the team worked a little bit differently… it was a little bit of a challenge for us since we were used to having all the attention focused on one car. But it was a really great season. It took some consistency finishing the races and finishing on the podium as many times as possible.
“Obviously we were able to win two of the biggest races of the year, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, so it was a very, very great moment. Finishing the season with a win at Petit and locking the championship as soon as the checkered flag was thrown was an amazing feeling.”
Looking ahead to 2016, what can we expect to see from the Prototype class?
“I think you can expect a lot of the same things from Action Express. Two very competitive cars that are going to try and go for the win again. We’ve done two years in a row and we would like to be the first ones to win the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It’s a new era for IMSA with a new sponsor, so why not be the first ones like we were in 2014, with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship?”
What, if anything, are you and the Action Express team doing to prepare for a new car in 2017? Or are you just focused on 2016?
“We are definitely focused on ’16 because we are starting with the two biggest races of the year with the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Sebring 12 Hour race, so we cannot let our thoughts wander too much. It will be very interesting to see what other teams approaches are going to be and what Action Express’ approach will be.
“We have to focus on 2016 but by the middle of the year we’re going to have to really focus on what’s going to happen in ’17 with the new car. I think we’re going to have to wait and see. The new cars are not out yet, they’re not even built. We’ll have to wait and see and pick the best one.”
What are your plans for the “offseason”?
“It’s going to be a really short offseason. We just finished the season, we have a few tests in December and then January is just around the corner. Usually I use the winter time to up my fitness a little bit, workout a little more and be ready for the 24 hour race again.”