After making a record-breaking and winning start to the 2018 ISA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Mustang Sampling Racing will continue that positive momentum as the team looks to return to victory lane in the 2018 edition of the Sebring 12 Hours this Saturday..
Joao Barbosa (PRT) will team with Filipe Albuquerque (PRT) in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, along with fellow IMSA champion Christian Fittipaldi (BRA) as the trio look to add their names to the select list of teams that have won both the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12 Hour in the same year. The driver line up marks the third consecutive season that the trio have combined for Mustang Sampling at the track.
Sebring’s 3.7-mile circuit is one that has long played a central role in the history of IMSA racing, as the circuit is set to stage the 66th running of the race. Saturday’s 12 Hour opens with a 10:30 am ET start and will race through the afternoon and well into the night with the checkered flag coming 12 Hours later.
The large crowd of Sebring fans should expect to see the leaders deliver more than 300 laps of the circuit. Saturday’s race will once again feature three classes of competition in WeatherTech with the Prototypes, GTD and GTLM machines all sharing the 17-turn confines of the track.
After taking third in 2014, the team won the 2015 edition of the race and has followed that up with podium results in 2016 (3rd) and 2017 (2nd).
The Sebring round is also the second race of the 4-event Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, which the Mustang Sampling squad has secured for four years (2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) running. The endurance-only battle awards points at the four, eight, and twelve hour marks in Sebring as the No. 5 entry targets a return to the top of those points as well.
No. 5 / Full Time Driver
Born: March 11, 1975 (41)
Hometown: Porto, Portugal
Family: Mariana (wife), Giles (son), Rodrigo (son)
P Championships: (3) Overall, (4) NAEC
Accomplishments: 1988/1989 Portuguese Karting Champion, 1994 Portuguese Formula Ford Champion, 6 IMSA Prototype Race Wins including the 2010 & 2014 Daytona 24, 2015 & 2016 Sebring 12 Hour Winner, 2016 & 2017 Watkins Glen 6 hr. winner
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Triathlon Competitor
Joao Barbosa has been a key part of the Action Express Racing driving lineup since the team took its first-ever winning laps in 2010. The affable Portuguese racer has two Rolex 24 At Daytona victories, two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships, and an amazing four consecutive Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup titles to his credit, all earned with Action Express Racing. Victories at Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans, not to mention millions of hits on Youtube from the video of him driving his wife around Daytona International Speedway are just part of Barbosa’s incredible racing record.
“The test went really well and we checked a lot of the boxes off on things we planned to do. Racing-wise, we are ready. The test gave us all a lot of laps and so we were comfortable with how we were with the car. It is a tough race and the track is very challenging. For the drivers, it is very physical, and for the car, it goes through a lot every lap with the bumps and so mechanically it is hard on them. The track is unlike any other, with the bumps in one and 17, especially 17! I like that challenge a lot and hopefully they will never repave that track! it is a cool characteristic and it has a lot of personality to the track and challenge the drives every time.”
Born: June 13, 1985 (32)
Hometown: Coimbra, Portugal
Family: Joana (wife), Carolina (daughter)
P Championships: 1 NAEC
Accomplishments: Red Bull Junior Team, GP2 and A1GP driver, Audi Factory P1 Pilot, 2013 Rolex 24 Hour Class Winner
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Global Endurance Racer, Likes cinema, tennis and traveling
Filipe Albuquerque first joined Action Express Racing in 2016, and had an immediate impact, taking a podium in his second start with the team and then winning in his third. Following a traditional European path in the sport that started with standout drives in karts, victories in formula car racing, and even a Formula 1 test at just 22 years old, Albuquerque scored a championship in his very first year of GT3 competition. Soon, Audi came calling as he joined their DTM and Le Mans competition efforts. Still active in European Le Mans competition, Albuquerque will be a full-time force for Action Express Racing in 2018 as co-driver with Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
The drivers enjoyed a post-Rolex 24 fishing trip, and relished getting some time together away form the track.
“We learned a lot between the team(during the fishing trip). Besides the great team spirit that everyone had, specially with our funny shirts and socks, Nasr, Gary and myself were the ones giving some food to the fish as we got seasick!! We had a nice double stint of 1h30 fight with a shark to bring to the surface just to watch him. We realized that takes a united team to pull a shark to the top because he was very strong.”
“It will be a great race, we know we have the tools to win but the respect for the others because they are very strong too. We just need to focus on doing our best with what we have, and if we can get the maximum out of that, we should be very competitive. The last 2 years we finished 3rd and then 2nd so it makes total sense to make the last step this year. The test went pretty good. We were happy about the setup changes and all the drivers of car 5 wanted the same. Everyone was very close, a little bit of what we have seen in the qualify of Daytona. For sure will be another hard race.”
Born: January18, 1971 (47)
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Family: Kris (wife), Manuela (daughter)
P Championships: (3) Overall, (4) NAEC
Accomplishments: 7 IMSA Prototype Race Wins and 4 Poles including 2004 & 2014 Daytona 24, 2015 12 Hours of Sebring, 2016 & 2017 Watkins Glen 6 Hour, Formula 300 Champion, Newman Haas CART Driver 1996 – 2002, A1 GP, Brazilian Stockcar and NASCAR, 43 Formula 1 Career Starts and Finished 2nd 1995 Indy 500
Hobbies/Fun Fact: Avid Mountain Bike Racer
From Formula 1 to the Rolex 24 At Daytona to NASCAR to Le Mans to the Indianapolis 500, Christian Fittipaldi has done it all. The Brazilian racer, born to racing royalty, was a standout in IndyCar competition after having made his F1 debut at a very young age. Fittipaldi picked up one Rolex 24 victory in 2004, and came back to repeat the feat with Action Express Racing in 2014 on his way to scoring the 2014 and 2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship titles. A four-time winner of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship, Fittipaldi will contribute to the team effort in 2018 both outside and inside the cockpit of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R as the team’s Sporting Director.
“I’m looking forward to getting back down there and getting the weekend going. It is a challenging track and a long race—12 hours there is absolutely a huge amount of time. So you have to be smart in traffic and it is only in the last third of the race that you really start to see things playing out. I like the challenge of this track and we are up for this fight-I think just like Daytona we are quietly confident and just want to get down there and get to work. The test was productive for us and so there is a good feeling in terms of having that information to work with for the engineers and of course good confidence with the car. I think our competition will be very strong once again but we’ve just got to focus on our own jobs and doing them well.”
2017 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 31 Whelen Engineering)
2016 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2015 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2015 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2014 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
2014 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup (No. 5 Mustang Sampling)
Action Express Racing Wins:
2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona
2017 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2017 Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Sahlens Six Hours of the Glen
2016 Canadian Tire Motorsports Park
2016 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2015 Petit Le Mans
2015 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase (1-2 sweep)
2015 Chevrolet Sports Car Classic
2015 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
2014 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase
2014 Brickyard Grand Prix
2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona
2013 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2013 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
2012 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen
2012 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix (1-2 sweep)
2011 Virginia International Raceway
2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Source. Sunday Group