Even though the team will sport a different look and different driver line up, Mustang Sampling Racing will still look for the same result this weekend as the team targets a third consecutive victory in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Continuing a much-appreciated tradition, Mustang Sampling has generated an all-new livery that celebrates the nation’s history and gives thanks to the members of the United States Armed Forces for their vigilance and sacrifices to protect this great nation.
The race weekend is the sixth race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech championship, with the Mustang Sampling Racing entry entering the event locked in a tie for the championship lead with the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac entry.
The upstate New York race is also the site for the third of four rounds of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Mustang Sampling Racing has secured the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions of the endurance-focused championship and enters the Watkins Glen event just six points out of the lead.
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R will see the return of Sporting Director Christian Fittipaldi to the cockpit for the six hour enduro. Fittipaldi will share the driving duties with Filipe Albuquerque and Gabby Chaves, who joins the Watkins Glen effort as Joao Barbosa continues to recuperate from an off-track injury.
The Watkins Glen race is the third Glen 6 Hour with the team for Albuquerque, who has a perfect record in the race thus far. Having moved to a full-time role with Mustang Sampling Racing in 2018, Albuquerque has shown a rapid adaptation as he has raced on a number of circuits for the first time, and is looking forward to returning to race on a track that he already knows well.
“I am really pumped to go out again and drive the Mustang Sampling Cadillac,” said Albuquerque. “Watkins Glen is a great track. Having just raced at Le Mans, I feel like I am in a good rhythm. Comparing Le Mans and the 6 Hour-it is of course a shorter race, but no matter how long the races are in IMSA it is always very intense! Unfortunately João (Barbosa) will not be driving but he will be helping our car and Gabby (Chaves). It’s very limited track time, but Gabby knows the track so he just has to focus on getting to know the car, but I don’t think our car is miles away from IndyCar.”
The race start is the first since the Sebring 12 Hour for Fittipaldi, who has been on site for every IMSA race to contribute to the performance efforts for the Mustang Sampling squad.
“I would say that I am happy to be back—but I really haven’t gone anywhere!” said Fittipaldi with a smile. “Obviously it is going to be a little different with Gabby (Chaves) racing with us and not having Joao in the car, but we still have the same goal and I think we can deliver on that goal. The team is very strong, and that is so important in a race like the 6 Hour. The best way to win another championship is to win more races so that is our focus this weekend!”
For Barbosa, the Watkins Glen race marks the first that he has missed since the start of the 2008 IMSA season, an incredible run of 120 consecutive race starts. Despite not being able to strap into the Cadillac Prototype, Barbosa is still looking forward to the race weekend.
“It is incredible to have had that run of consecutive race starts, and of course it is disappointing to have it end!” said Barbosa as he prepared for the trip to Watkins Glen. “But we have seen so many times how this is a team sport, and with having Gabby (Chaves) come on board, I think we will be just as strong and will have a good opportunity for a result. But I am eager to be back in the car, to be sure!”
With his current engagement in IndyCar having developed following his efforts in IMSA WeatherTech competition, Chaves brings both speed and experience to the mix as he prepares for his first start in a Cadillac DPi-V.R.
“I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there,” said Chaves. “I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Source. Sunday Group