IMSA Wire: Barbosa, Fittipaldi Looking to Parlay Sneak Preview into Chevrolet Sports Car Classic Success

Barbosa, Fittipaldi Looking to Parlay Sneak Preview into Chevrolet Sports Car Classic Success

May 30, 2017

Staff Report

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi participated in a Media Hot Lap Day at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park last Tuesday as a prelude to this Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.

The race will be televised live on FS2 beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET, with a rebroadcast on FS1 airing at 9 a.m. ET Sunday. IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout the weekend, including its race broadcast airing online at IMSA.com, SiriusXM and locally in the Detroit market on WCSX FM 94.7.

The co-drivers of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. zoomed around the track with media and sponsor executives in Cadillac ATS-V street cars, reaching speeds of up to 120 miles per hour. The Media Hot Lap Day also allowed Fittipaldi and Barbosa a glimpse of Belle Isle’s new layout, featuring longer straightaways heading to Turn 3, as well as the track’s new surface, which was shaved down to remove the bumpy ride that plagued drivers in years past.

Heading into the WeatherTech Championship’s fifth race of the season, the No. 5 Cadillac duo currently ranks second in the Prototype standings, 22 points behind brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor who are undefeated so far in 2017 in their own No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“We’ve had a couple good races, but not an excellent race this year,” Fittipaldi said. “Obviously, we’re looking for an excellent race. We’re going to come here and by all means, try to win the race. It would not be only really important for the team, but also really important for Cadillac, being their home city here.”

Cadillac is one of 76 sponsors for next week’s Detroit Grand Prix, an all-time high for the event weekend which prides itself on contributing to the city’s rebuilding process. Before the hot lap session, Barbosa and Fittipaldi took in the sights of “new Detroit” via the new QLINE, a trolley system which opened in the city earlier this month. According to the drivers, the landscape “without a doubt” has changed dramatically since they first began racing in Detroit.

For now though, the sights of new Detroit will have to wait for the drivers, as their focus turns to this weekend’s event and an opportunity to gain ground in the point standings.

“We were on pole the last two years and we’re going to try and duplicate that performance, but definitely try to finish on the top spot,” Fittipaldi said. “I’m pretty sure all the other teams are thinking the same thing right now, so it is what it is, but we just have to worry with our stuff and do our job in the best way possible.”

Breaking the Taylors’ undefeated streak will not be easy for the drivers of the No. 5, nor any of the other pairings in the Prototype ranks. As was the case for the previous two WeatherTech Championship races – the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach in April and the Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Grand Prix earlier this month at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas – the No. 10 enters Detroit as the defending race winner.

Joining Fittipaldi and Barbosa in pursuit of the Taylors are 2015 Belle Isle winners Dane Cameron & Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, a pair of DPi entries from both Tequila Patrón ESM and Mazda Motorsports as well as the global LM P2 cars of Visit Florida Racing and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.

In the Prototype Challenge (PC) category, Performance Tech Motorsports will attempt to continue its own domination of 2017. The team has won from the pole in all three races completed by PC this season.

Driver James French finished last year’s race at Belle Isle in third with then-teammate Kyle Marcelli, and qualified on the class pole at Detroit in 2015. Now paired up with Patricio O’Ward, he and the team are looking forward to getting another go at Motown.

“We’d like to see James win pole again,” said Performance Tech Motorsports owner Brent O’Neill. “As young as Pato is, he’s a really talented driver so I don’t think he’ll have any problems learning the track. It’s only a 100-minute race so there isn’t room for error. Your pit strategy has to be perfect and the lap times have to be consistent. You need to be on it the whole race.”

Performance Tech will be challenged in PC by a pair of ORECA FLM09s from BAR1 Motorsports, with Ryan Lewis joining Don Yount in the No. 20 and a pair of yet to be announced drivers slotted for the No. 26.

The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic will take the green flag at 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 3. Live coverage of the race begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS2, with live in-car cameras, timing & scoring and IMSA Radio available on IMSA.com.

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