Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa made a strong statement in their bid for a third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title, winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen to take their first victory of the season.
The drivers of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/Cider Tree Corvette DP took over the lead in both the WeatherTech Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup standings in the process. Barbosa beat Action Express Racing teammate Dane Cameron to the checkered flag by 0.709 seconds, joining Fittipaldi in scoring a sixth career WeatherTech Championship victory.
“It was probably one of the fastest-paced races that I’ve done in a while,” Barbosa said. “They did an amazing job with the repaved surface. We were able to keep up the pace for a long time. We did a few changes after qualifying and we really hit it. The team has been working really hard to get a win for the No. 5 car, and we did it in great style. It was a great race, very hard.”
Cameron co-drove with Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP, recording their fourth podium finish of the season.
“It was certainly a great day for Action Express, since it’s our goal to be 1-2 every single weekend,” Cameron said. “It’s a little disappointing to be on the back end of that, because they were able to jump us in the pits and we had our hands full with the No. 60 car.”
Olivier Pla finished third, 1.048 seconds behind, joined by John Pew and Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Curb Records/AERO Ligier JS P2.
The winners led six times for 107 of the 197 laps on the 3.4-mile circuit. Entering the race tied for the lead in the Prototype standings with Ricky and Jordan Taylor – who finished fourth in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP with Max Angelelli – Fittipaldi and Barbosa now unofficially lead Curran, Cameron and the Taylor brothers by seven points, 187-180.
Tequila Patrón ESM’s hopes for a third consecutive Tequila Patrón Endurance Cup victory ended when Pipo Derani retired the No. 2 Honda Ligier JS P2 co-driven by Scott Sharp and TOTAL Pole Award winner Johannes van Overbeek with one hour, 11 minutes remaining due to a mechanical failure. The team opened the year with victories at Daytona and Sebring, and managed to stay in contention by changing a power steering part under caution before the late issue.
Derani passed Barbosa one minute before the three-hour mark to earn the maximum five-point bonus for leading the halfway segment in the Patrón Endurance Cup. Tied with Action Express entering the event, unofficially Tequila Patrón ESM is now second in the Patrón Endurance Cup entering the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 1, 35-33.
“It’s a shame, because the car was good and we had a shot at victory,” Derani said. “It felt good to be able to take the lead at the midway point. They told me to push to try to overtake him, so I pushed and it was very satisfying to take the point. Now we’ll try to bounce back at Petit Le Mans.”