Christian Fittipaldi says he will not let the occasion of his final Rolex 24 at Daytona get in the way of his aspirations to claim a fourth victory in the Florida endurance classic.
Fittipaldi, who is sharing the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R with Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Mike Conway, announced his retirement from racing last August and will suit up for his final prototype race later this month.
The 47-year-old Brazilian told Sportscar365 that winning again would be a “fairy-tale ending” to his three-decade career but insisted he was not allowing his emotions to mix with the task at hand.
“It feels different, but I want to put that to the side because I have professional commitments with the team,” said Fittipaldi.
“We’re here to try and win the race. We’re not here to try and just pound around in circles and see if we can finish.
“We’re going to try our very best. It’s going to be extremely competitive and the competition is very well prepared in all aspects.
“It’s going to be hard out there. This [the race] is one thing, this [the occasion of his final last race] is another thing, and we cannot mix both of them.”
Fittipaldi described his third Daytona win last year with Albuquerque and Barbosa as a “huge relief” and that it felt like “the two million-pound monkey had come off our back” after narrowly missing out in 2017.
He said that the 2018 result, which came a year after the No. 5 Action Express trio finished less than a second behind the winning Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, contributed to his retirement announcement later in the summer.
“I have to admit that accelerated a little bit my decision because I think if we hadn’t won last year, and having 2017 stuck in my throat, maybe I would have kept on going a little bit more,” he said.
“But it wasn’t one specific thing. It was a big snowball of things that I threw in the mix, and that definitely accelerated it.”
Fittipaldi Not Opposed to Future Races
The two-time IMSA Prototype champion and CART race-winner is “not thinking at all” about making any one-off race appearances in the future, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility.
“If the opportunity arose, if the competitive conditions were there, either being in a GTD car or a prototype, maybe yes,” he suggested.
“But I’m way beyond that right now. I’m not thinking about that. If I were, then I shouldn’t be quitting right now – I should continue racing.
“You never know. Two of my family relatives who are coming up right now, that could be a pretty interesting pairing, but to do it on a consistent basis like I have been doing it my whole life, that I guarantee you isn’t going to happen anymore.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report.