With the holidays in the rearview mirror and anew season set to kickoff in the”World Center of Racing”, the two Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototypes from Action Express are headed south for the Roar Before the 24 to officially kick the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship into high gear.
The Mustang Sampling Corvette DP with full-time pilots João Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi are seeking their third overall win in North America’s most prestigious endurance race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and they’ll look to do so with five-time overall winner Scott Pruett and 2013 GTD class winner Filipe Albuquerque as co-drivers.
In addition to scoring their third overall win in the Rolex 24, Barbosa and Fittipaldi will be seeking a third consecutive championship in IMSA’s prototype class. The duo notched the win at the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and won the final IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on October 3, 2015. The duo also claimed a second consecutive Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title for the North Carolina based team.
“The last two years have been remarkable,” said Fittipaldi. “This team never quits and they’ve continued to give us what I think is the best car in the paddock for the last two seasons. That being said, the competition continues to improve each year and we’ll have to do the same, I’m confident in my team that they will.”
“It was really special to be the only TUDOR champions,” said João Barbosa. “While it’s sad to see that era close, it’s very exciting to welcome WeatherTech as the new title sponsor in IMSA’s premier championship. They’ve supported sports car racing for a long time and we’re happy to have them title sponsoring our championship.”
While the 2015 season was a continuation of success for the Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, Action Express Racing returned to fielding two full-time entries with the addition of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP.
With a new team and driving pairing, many in the IMSA paddock viewed Eric Curran and Dane Cameron as relative underdogs entering the 2015 season. After shaking off the misfortune suffered in the first two events of the season, the duo quickly announced they were going to be championship contenders before the season was done.
After scoring two wins and competing with their championship winning teammates into the closing minutes of the season finale, Cameron and Curran finished the year third in the standings. Entering the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar season the Whelen Corvette DP is poised for a run at the championships, that begins with the Roar Before the 24.
“Certainly we had some growing pains at first,” said Eric Curran. “Throughout the year everything started to click on our No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP team, the drivers got faster, the pit stops were phenomenal the second half of the season and we really became everything that we thought we could at the beginning of the season.”
Cameron and Curran will be joined at Daytona by IndyCar standout Simon Pagenaud of France, and the 2016 winner of the Sunoco Whelen Challenge, Scottish driver Jonny Adam.
Having Pagenaud in the Whelen Corvette DP will be a reunion of sorts for Dane Cameron as the two drove the Sahlen’s DP together at the Rolex 24 in 2013.
“It’s exciting to be able to drive with Simon again,” said Cameron. “He brings a lot to the table in terms of talent and understanding of the car so I look for him to be a major asset this year at Daytona and Road Atlanta. I’m also excited to compete with Jonny Adam as well. He had an incredible year in the Sunoco Whelen Challenge and I think he will be a great part of our team.
“I feel extremely confident going into the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. I think with what our team showed from the midpoint of last season on we’re in a great position to fight for wins and the championship right out of the box this year. That’s a testament to just how hard everyone works back at the shop, not only on our No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP, but also on the No. 5 Mustang Sampling DP as well, it’s a team effort and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Although Cameron will be looking for his first win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, he laid claim to the title as the winningest driver in the IMSA’s TUDOR era, scoring seven victories over two seasons. In addition to his two wins in the Whelen Corvette DP for Action Express Racing last season, Cameron drove for his former team Turner Motorsports in an event at Lime Rock Park where he recorded a third victory for the year.
For team manager Gary Nelson, getting the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season off to a great start is a must if the team hopes to repeat the championship success of the past two years.
“The Rolex 24 at Daytona is the biggest sports car event in North America,” said Nelson. “Because of the prestige of the race, you’ve got the largest starting field of any of our 10 events so a bad race can put you in a hole to start the year and its not an easy one to dig out from.
“The Roar before the 24 is an extremely important weekend for all the teams, particularly for ours with the way that we approach it. This is our final opportunity to have all of our drivers together in one place, practice the critical components of a race weekend, as well as log some valuable track time to fine tune our cars. Success in the Rolex 24 truly stems from success at the Roar and we’re going to approach it the same way we do the race itself.”
Action Express Racing will be on track beginning Friday at 10:15 am, and throughout the weekend. The Roar before the 24 concludes on Sunday afternoon.
Source. Hi-Rev Racing