The new era of American sportscar racing began in the best way possible for Action Express Racing, visiting Victory Lane at the end of the 52nd running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais all put in stellar stints in the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, marking Barbosa’s third Rolex win – his second with the team – and Fittipaldi’s second Daytona victory.
The team occupied two of the three podium positions, with Burt Frisselle, Brian Frisselle, Fabien Giroix and John Martin taking the #9 car, running in partnership with Delta-ADR, to third overall.
“It’s an unbelievable result for the team,” said Barbosa. “These guys deserve everything they are getting now. It’s really, really hard to finish on the podium at Daytona and to finish first and third is a great achievement and great work from all the team. They worked really, really hard during the winter. We went to every test we could. We did big preparation in the winter time. We knew we could do it but we didn’t know it was going to be that hard. It’s an unbelievable feeling. The end there was very intense, especially for me. The last 10 minutes was very intense. We did the job we were supposed to do and that we worked for and here we are.”
An extensive off-season testing programme paid off for the Action Express team, having completed over 12,000 hours and 2,500 miles of testing to prepare for the brand new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The results proved why testing was so important to the team, as over half of the 695 laps run had one of the two Corvette DPs leading the field.
The result was not as easy to come by as it seems, however, with the #5 car having to serve a 70 second stop-and-hold penalty for avoidable contact with just six and a half hours remaining. The penalty dropped the #5 off the lead lap, however, working with the #9 machine managed to put in some strong lap times and return to the top of the field.
Victory seemed almost assured for Barbosa as he held an 18-second lead over the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, but a caution with just 20 minutes to go threw everything out of the window and the lead was diminished. A final ten minute sprint ensued, with Barbosa driving his heart out to cross the line 1.5 seconds ahead of the Wayne Taylor Racing machine.
“My first comment would be to congratulate the Wayne Taylor Racing group,” said Team Owner Bob Johnson. “If we didn’t have competitors like the No. 10 car guys this wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Those guys are awesome and they give us a run for our money in every event, so a big congratulations to them. They really ran a good race today. Our first event in 2010 that happened to turn into a win, I was probably the one that expected that the least of anybody. But this one wasn’t unexpected. This one we expected to win. Our guys have all worked extremely hard to get the win and these guys did an awesome job as you all witnessed. So I am just as proud as can be that all of that hard work paid off.”