SEBRING, Fla. – official series release — Michael Levitt/LAT photo courtesy of IMSA —
Action Express Racing will take on a variety of challengers when it defends its victory in Saturday’s 64th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, round two of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup on Saturday.
Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa return to the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, where they will be joined by Filipe Albuquerque in a bid for their second consecutive Sebring triumph. But a diverse Prototype class field that includes a pair of Honda-powered Ligiers – including the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona winner; three similar Corvette DPs; the debut of the Nissan-powered ORECA 05; the Panoz DeltaWing Racing coupe; two Mazda Prototypes; and a pair of BMW-powered Riley DPs will make it tough on the 2015 Sebring winners and two-time and defending WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions.
“Sebring is probably the most difficult race of year for our series,” said Fittipaldi, who helped Chevrolet to its second overall Sebring victory in 2015 – and first since 1965. “You have the perfect storm of challenges when you think about the warm temperatures, the age of the track surface and just the beating that both the drivers and the car take for 12 hours. The race is proportionately more difficult than any 24-hour race.
“Winning here last year was one of the biggest of my career. Being a Sebring champion is something I’m fortunate to be able to carry with me for the rest of my life. When you look at the list of drivers who’ve won this event, it’s really special company to be a part of.”
Action Express Racing also fields the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, who will be joined by Scott Pruett for the event. Other Corvette DPs are the No. 10 Konica Minolta entry of brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, joined by Max Angelelli and Formula One legend Rubens Barrichello; and Visit Florida Racing’s No. 90 with Marc Goossens, Ryan Dalziel and IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Tequila Patron ESM returns with its Rolex 24-winning lineup of Pipo Derani, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Scott Sharp in the No. 2 Honda Ligier JS P2. Adding depth to the Honda challenge is Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 Tire Kingdom Ligier JS P2 of Ozz Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla, which also was a Rolex 24 frontrunner before mechanical issues ended its bid.
Other Prototypes include the No. 0 Panoz DeltaWing Racing coupe of Katherine Legge, Sean Rayhall and Andy Meyrick, which led in the early stages of the Rolex 24; the two-car Mazda Motorsports entry, with female Japanese endurance veteran Keiko Ihara joining Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Spencer Pigot, Tom Long, Joel Miller and Ben Devlin; DragonSpeed with the Nissan-powered ORECA 05 to be shared by 2011 Sebring overall winner Nicolas Lapierre, Nicolas Minassian and Henrik Hedman; Alegra Motorsports with the No. 24 Insync BMW/Riley for Carlos de Quesada, Daniel Morad, Cameron Lawrence and Dominik Farnbacher; and Highway to Help with the No. 50 Fifty Plus Racing BMW/Riley with Jim Pace, David Hinton, Byron DeFoor and Dorsey Schroeder.
CREDIT: IMSA Communications