Action Express Racing have taken a hard fought victory as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship battled its way to the Brickyard.
Using a combination of outright grunt held by the Corvette DP, as well as excellent pit stop strategy, the #5 of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi finished with a lead of almost 50 seconds over the #01 of Scott Pruett having managed to avoid a pit stop with 20 minutes to go many of the other prototype cars had to endure.
The team managed to achieve its first victory in the TUDOR Championship since the opener at Daytona with Fittipaldi achieving his best result at Indy since taking second in the 1995 Indy 500.
“Today was a nice win, even if it was 19 years after that,” Fittipaldi said. “It was a perfect day. All of the stars aligned, the team did an excellent job and hats off to them. I’m happy for the win, but I’m also happy to be in the lead of the championship again and still in the hunt.”
For the Extreme Speed Motorsports cars of Johannes van Overbeek and Ryan Dalziel – who qualified first and second – it was clear their HPDs were no match for the DPs and ended up having to settle for seventh and fifth respectively with the only other P2 of OAK Racing finishing eighth with Ho-Pin Tung and Gustavo Yacaman racing the Morgan-Nissan.
In GTLM it was a well earned win for the #93 Dodge Viper driven by Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito who had a strong battle with the Porsche of Nick Tandy but eventually muscled through to take the lead and have the opportunity to kiss the yard of bricks at the Speedway.
“Everything is coming together ever so slowly and it’s starting to show. The last two or three races you think, ‘Can we keep this momentum going?’ That’s always the question and you always try to work harder,” said Wittmer. “You don’t get to kiss the bricks every day.”
Following them in for second place and a well earned podium following their hard work for the rest of the event was Pierre Kaffer in the Risi Ferrari. However, it was not a comfortable second place as the #912 Porsche of Patrick Long and Michael Christensen were only 0.348 seconds behind to claim third.
Prototype Challenge saw a battle of the IndyCar Series as flying Yorkshireman Jack Hawksworth led Bruno Junqueira over the line to record his maiden victory in the series in what was only his first outing.
That said Hawksworth left it late to pass the 2002 Indy 500 pole sitter, finally making the move with only three minutes remaining on the clock after building on the solid foundations laid by team mate Chris Cumming.
“The last 45 minutes were some of the most fun I’ve had in a race car, to be honest,” said Hawksworth, who finished seventh on the same IMS road-course layout in the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May. “I had a great battle with Bruno, fighting through the traffic. I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a great circuit and I enjoyed it. To finally get a win here, it feels awesome.”
Finally comes GT Daytona and Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal took the win for the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari who left it to the final 40 minutes to finally make the pass on James Davison in the TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage. That move had made it seven leaders in the class that boasts the most entries.
“It was the perfect race,” Balzan said. “Yesterday we had a very hard day because we had problems with the setup during qualifying, but I knew that the car could be very fast. The stop was certainly the key how we won today. This year we don’t have the fastest car out there.”
The next race for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is at Road America in two weeks time on August 10th.