Cadillac V Racing News

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  • 04/14/2019 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Partial Reprint from Sunday Group Management,

    LONG BEACH, Calif. (13 April 2019) – History repeated itself on Saturday for Mustang Sampling Racing on the streets of Long Beach, with Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque combining great pit strategy and strong race pace to score their second consecutive victory in the BUBBA Burger Sports Car Grand Prix co-driving the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R.

    A year ago, Albuquerque took the lead on his final stop and led the final 31 laps for the lone victory of the season for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing team. Saturday, the team’s final stop put Albuquerque in position to lead the final 29 laps on the challenging 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary circuit in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event.

    A punctured right-front tire brought Albuquerque into the pits on lap 39 – pitting ahead of the other competitors. The team changed only that one Michelin tire as Albuquerque charged back on track on his out lap to seal his spot out in front on lap 45. 

    Albuquerque faced several challenges down the stretch, but magnificent driving through GTLM traffic preserved his lead on the way to a 0.740-second margin of victory.

    “It was very, very hard, because I starting to feel the tires dropping down,” Albuquerque said. “I started backing off a little to save the tires, but I made a mistake here and there so I said, ‘Forget it; I’m just going to push.’ My rear was all over the place, but it was good enough. It was an amazing strategy. We had a hard start with Joao, but he gave me a clean car and we came back.

    “The way that we started, I was just thinking that we needed to collect points,” Albuquerque added. “When I got in, the car was just great and the strategy was great as well. Over the last 15 laps the rear was gone and that's why the Penske cars started closing in. I knew that they wanted the win badly and they were pushing hard.  Ricky Taylor was waiting for me to make a mistake, he had caught me very quickly from over 6 seconds back.  I knew we didn’t have the speed the Acura’s or Mazda, but at a narrow track like Long Beach catching is one thing, overtaking is another."

    Barbosa started fourth but got caught up in traffic at the Fountain Turn on the opening lap, dropping back to eighth while avoiding contact. He managed to work his way back to sixth before his stop on the second of two cautions in the 100-minute event.

    “We had a real rough start to the race, and I was just trying to avoid chaos to give Filipe a good car for the end,” Barbosa said. “I started saving fuel from the beginning. We had great pit stops and great strategy. We stopped at the right time when the tire went down, and the team knew what to do. We knew it would take too long to take four tires, so we made up a ton of positions by only changing one. We knew we could do it. It’s all about the team—unbelievable job today. When we thought everything was totally lost, they turned it around. We brought the car back and they gave us track position at the right time, and we just finished the job for another win.

    “The Mustang Sampling Cadillac was awesome today,” Barbosa added. “We had great pace all the way up to the end with our Michelin tires, and we kept the Penskes behind us.”

    After struggling with an electrical problem in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mustang Sampling team took third in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Saturday’s victory boosted the two-time IMSA WeatherTech Champions to fourth in the unofficial points standings. 

    The Mustang Sampling Racing team next travels to Mid-Ohio for the Acura Sports Car Challenge on May 5.
  • 03/17/2019 6:00 AM | Anonymous

    Reprint Sunday Group Management

     SEBRING, FL (16 March 2019) – After coming very close several times, Whelen Engineering finally broke through in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday.

    With a big exclamation point.

    Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran battled tooth and nail to dominate in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, leading 249 of the 348 laps in the 67th running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event.

    They survived a number of challenges, including rain and poor visibility at the start; extended stretches of green-flag racing; and an eight-minute sprint to the finish following the fifth caution period.

    “Unbelievable,” said Curran. “We finished second here a couple of times and never got to the top step of the podium. My teammates were phenomenal. It feels so amazing to win this race after 15 years of trying. The Whelen Cadillac is amazingly good here. It was really good here last year, and it was just as good or better this year, maybe a little better.

    “The 12 Hours of Sebring is a huge deal for any sports car driver, and I’ve been trying to win this race for a long time. Especially coming off Daytona, where we almost got it, to win this one is a big deal. I’ve driven for Sonny Whelen for 10-plus years, winning two championships and a lot of big races. To get this one means a lot. It’s special to get Whelen Engineering that exposure, leading so many laps, so this is for him.”

    Derani won the race in 2016 as a rookie and in 2018, and was pleased to once again claim the victory. He took Whelen Engineering with him to the top step Saturday night. The only other driver to win Sebring three times in four years was American Formula One champion Phil Hill, who did so in 1958, 1959 and 1961.

    “Unbelievable job!” Derani said. “It was tricky at the beginning of the race, with the rain, but I managed to move my way from fifth into first and open a gap. But today was just one of those days, where everything clicked and nothing went wrong. Big thanks to my team. The Whelen Engineering Cadillac is an amazing car and I’m really happy to have won three times in four years. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the job the Whelen Engineering Racing guys have done behind the scenes, and Felipe at the end and Eric keeping the car in front. What a day!”

    Whelen Engineering took second in 2016 and 2018, and also was third in 2017 prior to finally achieving the top step.

    “Today was a super challenging day and I am so proud of the job by the entire Action Express team,” Nasr said. “They gave us an amazing car to drive today, in all the different conditions from wet to dry to drizzling, and Tim Keene was superb with the calls. Pipo had an amazing start in the rain, that was a really tricky part of the race and he nailed it. He was able to put the car into the lead and just walk away with it, and Eric stabilized the lead and kept the car going forward. In the end, the job for me was to get to the finish line. Those last 20 minutes were super intense, trying to hold off the 10 car, they were pretty fast. I’m so happy we got the victory and nailed every hour for the endurance championship as well. A perfect day of racing!”

    After the race began under caution due to rain, Derani needed only six green-flag laps to take the lead. He led up until the two-hour mark, when he was the first driver to pit to switch from rain to slick tires on the damp track.

    “To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure (about going to slicks),” Derani said. “The track was wet, but at the same time, I could feel the tires were starting to go away. It was a really great job by the team to put me on slicks. I couldn’t give them an answer, but they made the right call there. It was really difficult early with a lot of water and spray.”

    The fourth caution of the event during the 10th hour erased a 48-second lead for Derani, allowing Jordan Taylor in the Rolex 24 At Daytona-winning Cadillac to close in. Nasr took over and pulled away on the restart, only to see Taylor get another chance with a final caution. Nasr again prevailed in an eight-minute sprint, winning by 1.030 seconds in the closest non-managed finish in event history.

    Another turning point came shortly before the eight-hour mark. Nasr passed the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac not only to lead the race, but to capture the five-point Michelin Endurance Cup bonus. The Whelen Engineering team won all three segments. Entering the race with a five-point deficit, the No. 31 team is now tied with the No. 10 in a bid to give Action Express Racing its sixth consecutive victory in the unique competition – and second straight for Whelen Engineering.

    “The team did such a great job today,” said sponsor Sonny Whelen. “It was an amazing day – rain, then sun, then running into darkness. Amazing!”

    “This was a great race, and Sebring is just such a big event that this feels great,” said team owner Bob Johnson. “And to have both team cars on the podium is even better.”

    Next up for Whelen Engineering Racing will be the Bubba Burger Grand Prix of Long Beach, set for April 13.
  • 01/28/2019 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    Reprint from WayneTaylorRacing.com Post Race Report


    There have been plenty of wild finishes in the 57 editions of the iconic Rolex 24 At Daytona. But arguably none have been wetter than Sunday’s rain-shortened conclusion of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, in which the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, with its all-star driver lineup of Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande, Kamui Kobayashi and Fernando Alonso, weathered treacherous conditions to score its second victory in the last three events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. 

    One of those wild Rolex 24 finishes came just two years ago, when Taylor’s older brother and then co-driver Ricky Taylor won a furious battle in the closing minutes to earn the Taylor brothers their first career Rolex 24 victory alongside third and fourth drivers Max “The Ax” Angelelli and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon. 

    This year, the younger Taylor brother was joined by 2018 full-time co-driver van der Zande alongside former Formula One and current World Endurance Championship regular Kobayashi, and two-time Formula One world champion Alonso. And the fearsome foursome turned a highly anticipated Rolex 24 victory into reality with their driving consistency and ability to stay out of trouble through all hours of the day and night, in conditions that ranged from fast and dry to chilly and extremely wet. 

    Together, they led a race-high 249 of 593 laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile superspeedway road circuit from the sixth qualifying position earned Thursday by Taylor, who equaled the two career Rolex 24 victories earned by his three-time sportscar-racing-champion father and team owner Wayne Taylor, and helped his teammates each earn his first career Rolex 24 win. Alonso, in fact, became just the third Formula One world champion to win a Rolex 24, joining Phil Hill and Mario Andretti. The Spaniard also scored a first career victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June. 

    “I’m disappointed because, now, Jordan’s won as many Rolex 24s as I have, and I never wanted that day to happen (joking),” Wayne Taylor said. “But I can’t even put into words how great this win is for us. I want to thank Rick Taylor, Michael Mathe, everyone at Konica Minolta, Mark Reuss at GM, Steve Carlisle at Cadillac, all our commercial partners for believing in us and making all of this possible. Everything has to come together to win one of these, on and off the track. And to do it with this particular group of guys, it’s going to be a racing memory I will never forget.” 

    After struggling to crack the top-five all through practice and qualifying in lead-up to Saturday and Sunday’s twice-around-the-clock endurance marathon, it took little time for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R to find its way to the lead. Taylor’s ultra conservative opening stint yielded just one lap led during a round of green-flag pit stops. But once Alonso got behind the wheel for his first race stint just shy of the two-hour mark, the sleek, black racecar found itself in and out of the lead for the remainder of the event. Alonso promptly raced his way into the lead, and logged 44 laps led before turning the car over to Kobayashi just past the four-hour, 30-minute mark. 

    Like Alonso, his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Kobayashi executed a strong and steady stint keeping the Konica Minolta Cadillac in the lead for 72 of his 87 laps on track before handing the car over to van der Zande at the seven-hour, 27-minute mark. 

    The 32-year-old Dutchman, who most recently brought home a thrilling win for the team on the last turn of the last lap of last year’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, played it relatively conservatively during his opening stint and led 18 laps before handing the car back to Taylor in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The racecar remained strong through Taylor’s second stint, in which he led 45 laps before turning things over to Alonso just short of the 15th hour of the race. 

    But, shortly after Alonso took over, expected rain showers finally arrived, and varying degrees of precipitation would remain through the rest of the day. He led 49 laps in all during the mostly wet stint, which included an almost two-hour red-flag period for extreme wet conditions through the track at the 16-hour, 43-minute mark. 

    Alonso continued for a short time after the race resumed at the 18-hour, 31-minute mark, leading several more laps before handing the car back to Taylor just short of the 19-hour mark. Taylor’s final stint of the weekend netted 17 of 43 laps led through very wet conditions. It featured a powerful pass of the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Pipo Derani at the 19-hour, 20-minute mark, then a remarkable maneuver to avoid a spinning GT-class car ahead of him under heavy braking into turn one. 

    Then came the final stint for Alonso, who resumed in third place and carefully bided his time before positioning himself to take advantage when Derani’s teammate Felipe Nasr ventured off course in turn one and giving the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R the lead for good at the 21-hour, 54-minute mark. 

    The race was red-flagged three laps later as Alonso and most of the rest of the field reported near zero visibility under heavy rains just short of the 22-hour mark. 

    Officials waited for a chance to restart the race until the 23-hour, 49-minute mark before waving the checkered flag, and celebration ensued in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R camp. 

    “I think it was an interesting race with the conditions changing, very tough, but I think, like everyone else says, everyone did their job,” said Taylor, who scored his 21st career victory. “All four drivers led in their own right and drove to the lead, different parts of the race, and it was all about survival. You saw a lot of guys taking a lot of risk early in the race, but we waited with the game plan of running our own race and not getting caught up in anyone else’s battles. I think it was the right game plan. We stayed out of trouble, no car damage, no one went off the track. That’s the way you win these 24 hour races, and we kind of came into the grid thinking almost every single car can win the race, and you see guys making little mistakes here and there, and this team has now done six out of seven years finishing on the podium without issues. I think it’s a huge testament to Wayne Taylor Racing.” 

    “I’m super happy,” said van der Zande, who scored his 12th career victory. “Fantastic. I think I said before the weekend, I think to the team, Wayne and Max (Angelelli, team owner), fantastic that they put such little pieces together. It’s a big puzzle and it comes together in this victory here right now. Thanks a lot to my teammates, the whole team, and I’m very happy to bring home a (Rolex) watch and a lot of victory feelings. What more to say?” 

    “I’m so happy to be here, and obviously I think. like the 24 hour race, it’s never easy even when you have a good car or whatever because you have so many issues, problems,” Kobayashi said. “I think today we had really extremely difficult conditions. I think all the team guys, the drivers, did a great job. I think the team did a really, really good job, and obviously the car was really good.” 

    “I’m very, very proud of the job that we achieved today, but it was not a one day job, it was a one month job,” Alonso said. “For me, in December we started preparing for the race and receiving all the documents, how the Cadillac works and how Wayne Taylor Racing works, some procedures that maybe are different compared with other teams. We tried to have a quick integration, Kamui and myself, trying to learn as much as we could from the team in the Roar (Before the 24 test days) and then, on the race itself, it was very, very difficult. Conditions were changing all the time.” 

    Round two of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 16, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, where newly announced third driver Matthieu Vaxiviere of France will join Taylor and van der Zande behind the wheel of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Live television coverage begins on CNBC at 10:30 a.m. EST and concludes on NBCSN 3:30 to 11 p.m. 

  • 01/28/2019 9:37 AM | Anonymous
    Partial reprint from Sunday Group Management,

     

    Daytona Beach, Fla. (27 January 2019) – Whelen Engineering Racing took its second consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona runner-up finish on Sunday, with Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran fighting at the front with the red and white No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R but was unable to clinch the win after the race was called early. 

    Treacherous conditions led to the race going to caution with just over two hours remaining, leading to a second red flag that eventually ended the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener after 23 hours, 50 minutes.

    Unfortunately for the team, the caution came only four minutes after Nasr had slid through a pool of standing water and lost the lead in Turn 1, handing the lead - and victory - to the No. 10 Cadillac entry.  Nasr quickly recovered and continued, but ran out of time in a bid to challenge the race-winning Cadillac as IMSA once again moved the race to a caution period before calling a red flag and then early checkers. 

    “This race was totally insane, one of the most challenging races I’ve done here,” Curran said. “The weather was key. Early on, it was dry, there was some really good racing, I had a lot of fun in the car both during the day and at night. There were a lot of good battles with some good people, good teams, and we ran in the top three most of the race. 

    But I was in the car at 5 a.m. and it was pitch black out, raining like crazy and the windshield was fogging up,” Curran explained. “We couldn’t get the wiper working right and it was really miserable, really hard to drive. It was really challenging from that point on. But we kept charging forward from fourth place to where we ended up, with Felipe battling with Alonso. I felt we had a strong Whelen Cadillac, enough to win the race, but we’ll take second place – though it is a bit disappointing after finishing second last year! You can’t complain about second at Daytona, but you want to be on the top step of the podium. We were so close.”

    All three drivers had turns in the lead, with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac out front 10 times for 97 laps.

    “I thought we had a good car in both dry and wet conditions, and it was looking good until the rain really poured down,” said Nasr, who battled two-time World Champion Alonso throughout the final hour of race. “There was nothing I could do: I was the first car coming through and I just aquaplaned all the way and lost the lead. But I wanted to go back racing. We had a good car, we did a good job all race, and everything we did went to plan. I think we had a winning car in our hands and I wanted to get the job done if I could. It was amazing, the hard work the team did in every single pit stop to handle all the tire changes, the work the mechanics did, and getting the fastest lap of the race – everything was perfect. Eric and Pipo did great, the team made great calls keeping us up front the whole time, it was great. But I wanted to finish a better place than second.”

    Derani made his first start for the team, with the 2016 Rolex 24 winner leading twice for 26 circuits.

    “It was a hell of a race,” Derani said. “We had such a difficult day, with so much rain. It was sad not to be fighting for the win at the end, but we’re happy as well to be able to finish in such a difficult race. Anything could have happened. Thank you to the team for an amazing job, it was a first race for me with Whelen Engineering and I’m really happy for what we did. We’re second in the championship and we’re going to keep fighting.”

    Strong Start to Michelin Endurance Cup title Defense

    The team made the call to keep Nasr out on track while the other contenders pitted prior to the six-hour mark. That gave the team five points towards the Michelin Endurance Cup, which Action Express Racing is seeking to win for the sixth consecutive year - including the 2018 cup title for Whelen Engineering. The four bonus points at the finish gave the team 13 points, a good start heading into the endurance classics at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.

    “The cards just didn’t fall our way today, but we’ll leave here with our heads held high because I think they knew we were here,” said Nelson after the race. “I am very proud of everybody at Action Express. It seemed like we were getting curve balls every time we turned around. The No. 31 car set the fastest lap of the race so that shows they had speed, and the drivers did a heck of a job, to be leading late in the race and many times in the middle of the race. The cards just didn’t fall our way today, but we’ll leave here with our heads held high because I think they knew we were here.”

  • 12/20/2018 6:53 AM | Anonymous
    Reprint from Sunday Group Management

    Mustang Sampling Racing Finalizes Rolex 24 At Daytona Roster

    Conway returns to Action Express Racing with Mustang Sampling as Fittipaldi prepares for final IMSA Prototype start

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (19 December 2018) –Mustang Sampling Racing has finalized its 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona driver line up with a firm focus on a successful defense of its 2018 victory in the the prestigious event to open the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. 

    The race is the 57th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and will mark the launch of the fifth season of partnership between Mustang Sampling and Action Express Racing.

    Having announced that the full-season driver pairing of Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque will be joined by Christian Fittipaldi in his final Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA Prototype outing, the team has now confirmed the signing of Mike Conway to the driver roster for the season-opening race on January 26-27. 

    The talented Briton has made several starts with Action Express Racing, and the Rolex 24 outing will mark the first time that Conway will carry the Mustang Sampling colors.

    Conway raced with the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R for Action Express in three races in both 2017 and 2018, netting a runner up result in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, third in the 2018 12 Hours of Sebring and second in the 2017 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. 

    In addition to his accomplishments in IMSA, Conway is a multiple winner in IndyCar competition and a two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans podium finisher. He currently holds second in the LMP1 standings of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship with three races remaining, having won the six-hour races at Fuji and Shanghai for Toyota this year.

    “I’m happy to be returning to race for Action Express in the Rolex 24 again this year,” said Conway. “I am looking forward to joining Mustang Sampling Racing and driving with Joao, Christian, and Filipe. It is great to have already worked with them in the past, and as the results have shown, the team is very capable so I am eager to get to Daytona and help them hopefully bring another trophy home.”

    “We have been working hard to prepare to win at Daytona once again and we are happy to have Mike (Conway) return to the team again this year,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “He is a a strong team player and has made great contributions to our results in the past so he will fit in well with our line up in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac for Daytona. We are all looking forward to getting back to Daytona for the Roar to continue those preparations for the 24 at the end of the month.”

    Mustang Sampling Racing will continue preparations for the Rolex 24 At Daytona with three days of testing at the Roar Before the 24 on January 4-7. 
     

    Mustang Sampling
    Mustang Sampling
    Mustang Sampling Website
    (L-R) Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa


    João Barbosa

    The three-time and co-defending IMSA TPNAEC Champion, João Barbosa returns to Action Express Racing to drive the familiar #5 gold, black and white Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R seeking his third IMSA WeatherTech Championship at the pinnacle of North American sports car competition. João resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife and two sons. He is an avid runner and cyclist. 

    Filipe Albuquerque

    Filipe joins the defending Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup and two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship winning No .5 MustangSampling Cadillac Dpi-V.R for the full 2018 IMSA campaign. Filipe resides in his hometown  of Cambria, Portugal. 

    Christian Fittipaldi

    Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champion driver Christian Fittipaldi returns to Action Express Racing for his sixth full season of competition following a fourth consecutive Tequila Patron' North American Endurance Cup title with co-driver João Barbosa. Fittipaldi has been appointed Sporting Director for Action Express Racing, and will continue to race in the endurance events starting in 2018.  Outside of sports car racing, the Brazilian satiates his need for competition by racing in mountain bike and karting events, both in the U.S. and his home country of Brazil.



    About Mustang Sampling

    Mustang Sampling, LLC is the innovator of Analytically Accurate® solutions within sample conditioning systems. We provide custom solutions of products and services globally to the Natural Gas, Natural Gas Liquids (NGL), and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industries. Mustang Sampling continues to pioneer integrated control systems, allowing our customers to maintain phase stability from sample extraction at the pipeline through sample analysis. Our products are continuously improved and subjected to the highest quality standards which provides our customers with the best sample conditioning solutions. 
  • 10/14/2018 8:22 AM | Anonymous
    REPRINT POST RACE REPORT FROM WTR WEBSITE


    The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R trio of Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande and Ryan Hunter-Reay ended one of their team’s most challenging seasons to date with a much-neeed exclamation point as van der Zande’s dramatic pass for the lead two corners from the finish line brought home the victory in the 21st annual Petit Le Mans IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance marathon at Road Atlanta. 

    It was the team’s only victory of 2018 and kept alive a streak of 15 consecutive seasons with at least one win since team owner and three-time sportscar-racing champion Wayne Taylor and his long-time business partner and former co-driver Max “The Ax” Angelelli first fielded the No. 10 Prototype in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series competition in 2004. 

    The victory, the team’s second at the iconic 10-hour race since 2014, also solidified a third-place finish in the final championship standings after having clinched the 2017 championship at this event a year ago. 

    “I feel like I have never been more happy than I am tonight,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “These guys, this team, our partners Konica Minolta, Cadillac, ECR Engines, everybody associated with this program, this was for them. It was a really tough weekend because we didn’t have the fastest car. We were five-and-a-half miles an hour slower than most of those other cars in a straight line. But, as usual, this team, when it’s time to do something and pull stuff out – our engineers and our drivers – they find a way to make it happen. Thank goodness because for all 15 years we’ve been doing this, we’ve never had a year without winning a race. And for the Petit Le Mans, it’s now three wins because I won as a driver and now twice as a team owner with Max. I can’t say enough about our chassis maker Dallara – it’s not only the technical side of everything they do with us, it’s the relationship we have with them. They truly, truly feel the pain with us and they win and lose with us, so I can’t say enough about them. We’ve got just really good partners. This year was a difficult year, but this is one heck of a way to make us feel good during the offseason.” 

    After struggling to qualify 12th for today’s race, victory might have seemed improbable for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, even though it has mastered the art of contending for wins in time and again in the series’ iconic endurance events at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta over the last decade and a half. 

    The 32-year-old van der Zande, who replaced Ricky Taylor as Jordan Taylor’s full-time co-driver at the outset of 2018, drove a patient opening stint in working his way into the top-10. He handed the car over to Taylor at the one-hour, 13-minute mark during the first caution period of the race, and lightning-quick work by the crew enabled Taylor to restart just outside the top-five. 

    Taylor and Hunter-Reay on their opening stints, and then van der Zande during his second stint, took charge over the next five and a half hours and, with the help of consistently quick pit stops and driver changes, kept the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in and around the top-five. The Dutch driver first took the lead during a round of green-flag pit stops at the six-hour, 45-minute mark, and he and Taylor were able to lead 55 of the next 60 laps until just past the eight-hour mark. 

    Van der Zande took over with 92 minutes remaining in the race and would take the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R the rest of the way. He rejoined the race in fifth place and gradually worked his way toward the front during the initial fuel-and-tire run, leading the final five laps before making his final fuel-and-tire stop with 43 minutes remaining. 

    He resumed in third place behind the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Albuquerque and the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan of Pipo Derani. Van der Zande passed Derani with seven minutes to go in the race, and he carefully bided his time in chasing down Albuquerque for the lead as the team suspected the No. 5 Cadillac would not have enough fuel to get to the checkered flag. 

    It was a nail-biting final few minutes as a determined Albuquerque was able to hold off van der Zande. But finally, just two turns from the finish, the No. 5 car sputtered and van der Zande got around him on the outside and took the win. 

    “It took 10 races to get my first win with the team and we finally got it done,” said the Dutchman. “I’m super happy and super proud of the team and I think this was a real team effort. We kept it on the black stuff, we gave it our all at the right time, but mainly on the fuel mileage and hitting the numbers they gave me was a big calculation at the end and the team got it done. We knew we were going to struggle during the day when it was hot. When I got in for Ryan on my second-to-last stint, it was starting to cool down and that’s when I started to feel like we do have a good car because it felt horrible before that. It was steering in, it was braking, it was doing everything I wanted. The closer we got to the end of the race, the better the car was getting, I could attack everywhere. At the end, it was a very calculation kind of game on track because you want to get position but you want to save fuel, as well. That’s the game that we played and we played it very nice. I’m very happy. We have a baby coming any time now so I have to head home now. I’ll be very anxious until it happens but this is a very nice thing to happen to end the season.” 

    “It was pretty crazy,” Taylor said. “It was a never-give-up strategy today. It was 10 hours and one of the toughest Petit Le Mans races there’s been in a long time, especially in the Prototype class. It was a tough year not having a win until now, and it would’ve been very disappointing to leave this season without a win. But our guys were unbelievable – the whole Konica Minolta crew. We were making up positions on every pit stops, which kept us up front for track position. And for the last two hours, Renger was saving fuel. If we wouldn’t have stuck to that strategy like we did, we would’ve ended up like the 5 car. We were pushing him every lap to save fuel and hit his numbers, and he was still able to keep the pressure on and it worked, passing for the win with two corners to go. To go through 10 hours of racing is unbelievable. Wayne Taylor Racing has won at least one race for all 15 years of its existence, so it’s a great way to end the way and a great way to lead into 2019.” 

    “This is a big one – Petit Le Mans is huge,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s so great racing with this team. I have such a great time with them, it’s easy to come from my full-time job in IndyCar and jump in here and work with these drivers. Jordan and Renger did a fantastic job today. Renger, to finish the race like that, was outstanding. We’ve come close, we finished second at Sebring, we had a great car at Daytona before we had some issues, and this is just fantastic to finish the year like this. We went from qualifying on the pole to winning (the IndyCar season finale) at Sonoma and now to this, it’s just been a fantastic to the 2018 season. Petit Le Mans is a big one. Next up, we have our eyes on winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona. I’d love to win that race. I just love being back here in IMSA.”

  • 10/14/2018 8:20 AM | Anonymous

    Reprint from Sunday Group Management

    BRASELTON, Ga. (13 October 2018) – Whelen Engineering Racing captured its second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title in three years Saturday night, finishing seventh with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr and Gabby Chaves in the 21st Motul Petit Le Mans.

    The result secured the IMSA WeatherTech Driver Championships for Curran and Nasr, as well as the Team Championship for Whelen Engineering Racing. The IMSA title is the second in three seasons for Whelen Engineering and Curran, and also capped an impressive first season of IMSA competition for Nasr. 

    The Team and Driver Championships were not the only mission that was accomplished, as the team also secured the 2018 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup at the four-hour mark of the race. Action Express Racing has won the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Endurance Cup titles as well as the 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Championships. 

    Curran and Nasr combined to lead 77 laps at the 2.54-mile circuit, and later ran second for 24 consecutive laps during the eighth hour. 

    A record-setting race pace saw a range of strategies develop to set the stage for a dramatic final thirty minutes of racing as teams took different approaches to fuel strategy.

    Nasr had to balance his pace with a fuel strategy as the pursuing championship squad used an alternate pit stop plan to gain track position late in the race. But with clear instructions from the Whelen Engineering Racing pit box,  a disciplined drive from Nasr saw the team take exactly the result that was required to secure the title.

    “It was amazing to pull it off at the end,” said Curran. “The last 20 minutes were just on the edge, and it really wasn’t looking good for us. We had Felipe (Nasr) back off on the fuel and save as much as he could, so we wouldn’t have to do one more stop.” 

    “Our Whelen Cadillac was strong the whole race long,” Curran continued. “It’s interesting to win a championship by going slow. It’s a funny way to do it. What an unbelievable teammate! Felipe and I won the Tequila Patron Endurance Cup as well, and Gabby (Chaves) did a great job in the car. It’s been an unbelievable year.”

    “This is definitely the best yet,” said Action Express Racing Owner, Bob Johnson. “This was so exciting, I don’t know how you top this. Thank goodness we’ve got these young drivers like Felipe (Nasr) who can do the endurance events and spend three hours in the car there at the end! This was very big. It was a great job up on the top of the box, a phenomenal strategy. The entire team did a great job and this feels fantastic!”

    “It was an exhausting last stint, to be honest, three-plus hours in the car,” Nasr said. “Somehow, we lost power halfway through the stint so the only chance we had to make it happen was to look at that fuel mileage, and hitting that target perfectly on every lap. 

    “I want to thank Eric, Gabby and Mike (Conway),” Nasr added. “Even though Mike wasn’t here this weekend, he’s been a great part of the team. And thanks to all the Action Express guys who made all the calls, all our sponsors, everyone who is behind this effort. The Whelen car has won two championships! I’m so excited. This is my first year in the series, and getting the championship, I couldn’t ask for a better way for the season to go. It seemed impossible, but somehow, we made it. I just need time for it all to sink in.”

    Driving the Whelen Engineering Cadillac for the first time, Chaves ran as high as fourth during his turn at the wheel.

    “The car was good,” Chaves said. “I was just trying to manage the tire wear and the traffic, which was rough. I tried to stay clean, and let the guys who have been doing this all year wrap it up. The hardest part for me was that the GTD guys seemed to be very aware during practice. But during the race, it was a totally different game. So I had to adjust my approach after that first stint. Congrats to Eric and Felipe on a great season.”

    The Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup began with the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and continued through the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. This marked the fifth consecutive year that Action Express Racing captured the unique championship.

    “For sure, winning the Patron Endurance Cup is a big deal for the team,” Curran said. “It’s fun for us on the No. 31 side, but the No. 5 car has been amazing – they’ve won it year after year after year. Action Express as a whole really gets it done.”

  • 10/14/2018 8:15 AM | Anonymous
    Reprint from Sunday Group Management

    BRASELTON, Ga. (13 October 2018) – After winning the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mustang Sampling Racing came only one turn shy of bookending the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, running out of fuel virtually in sight of the checkered flag for Saturday's 21st Motul Petit Le Mans after 10 hours of intense racing at Road Atlanta.

    Filipe Albuquerque dominated the final two hours in No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi V-R co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and Tristan Vautier, pacing the field twice for 38 laps after a pair of on-track passes. He passed Jordan Taylor out of Turn 3 to take the lead with just under two hours to go, and led through his final pit stop. Albuquerque then passed the Nissan of Pipo Derani with 27 minutes left and led the field through the final lap.

    “When Felipe came out of Turn 7 [on the last lap] I thought we had it,” said Fittipaldi, who joined Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa in winning the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. “I thought that was it, we only had the straightaways and it would be OK. But then he started having a misfire down the straight and unfortunately, not only the 10 (winner Jordan Taylor) but a few other cars went by and we missed out on even being on the podium.”

    Albuquerque also won at Long Beach with Barbosa, who did not drive at Petit Le Mans after fracturing a rib in a lap one incident at the most recent event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

    “We really have had bad luck in the second half of the season,” Albuquerque said. “It was very frustrating. We had problems early in the race, but we recovered and came back to the lead. The car was just brilliant from Lap 1, so I hated to have to race to the fuel at the end. We thought we had it, but apparently, we couldn’t catch it. One corner, that’s all it was, and to not even get a podium is very hard. Everybody did great, and Tristan (Vautier) did an amazing job, jumping in and helping us. I guess it was just not meant to be.”

    While they did not lead the race during the opening eight hours, Albuquerque, Fittipaldi and Vautier kept the team in contention, with each driver running as high as second.

    Vautier was available to fill in on short notice due to his regular team – Spirit of Daytona Racing – not participating in the finale.

    “We were so close to winning Petit!” Vautier said. “It was very tense, those last moments. Filipe drove an amazing race, getting into the lead, and then driving to those fuel numbers. We were that close, one or two corners from winning Petit Le Mans. Just an amazing experience with the team. I’m very grateful they gave me the call to come and jump in. It’s a shame we couldn’t bring it back in a podium position, but thank you to the team for an amazing job. It’s an incredible organization. Thank you to Filipe, Christian and Joao for being so welcoming. I’m happy for the Action Express team as a whole, because the No. 31 won the championship and that was the main mission today. I’m disappointed, but very grateful.”

    The finale was bittersweet for Fittipaldi, who stepped aside from regular driving duties to serve as Action Express Facing's sporting director. The 2019 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona will be his final IMSA Prototype race.

    "Congratulations to the Whelen guys for winning the championship, it was an awesome run," Fittipaldi said. “We were strong this year as well, but we just were unfortunate a few times, and today was one of those times. But this is a solid group of guys, we’ll turn the page to a new chapter and try and win Daytona again to start the new season.”


  • 08/06/2018 8:29 AM | Anonymous

     Reprint from Sunday Group Management

    Elkhart Lake, Wisc (5 August 2018) Whelen Engineering Racing drivers Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran finished third in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi-V.R. 

    The result is the second consecutive podium finish for the duo after scoring third at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July as the first-year pairing grew their advantage in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with two rounds of racing remaining in the season. 

    Curran started the race from seventh on the grid and moved up to run in sixth by the fourth lap, although he suffered damage to the Cadillac Prototype in the early laps with the typical hard fought racing that IMSA WeatherTech fans have come to expect.  Despite the damage, Curran held the position until a quick call from Whelen Engineering Racing performance engineer Tim Keene saw Curran take to the pits on lap 15. 

     A fast stop for fuel, tires, and a driver change to Nasr came at an ideal time as the field was slowed for a full course caution.  The exchange saw the Whelen Engineering Cadillac up front for the Lap 19 restart, with Nasr holding the point for 37 of the next 39 laps. 

    A lap 58 final stop for fuel saw Nasr return to the fray fifth in the order. Fully fueled, Nasr made a hard charge to the finish, clicking off fast laps as he looked to retake the lead. That charge back to the lead was only halted when the two leading Prototype machines were able to go all the way to the finish before both ran out of fuel on the cool-down lap. 

    While the strong run up front had promised another possible victory for Nasr and Curran, the podium result generated a welcome collection of points to go with the new trophies for the team. 

    "It was a lot of hard work done by all of the Action Express boys,” said Nasr. “Eric (Curran) had a fantastic start and made up positions quickly. Unfortunately, he got hit in the back which caused us to lose a piece of the car. The damage was pretty big so we lost the rear tires very quickly and it was all about changing the driving style, and it worked! We knew the problem and had to face it so we could make the best out of it. At some point we were looking good to win the race, but it was a good points day and another podium which makes two in a row. I am super proud of all my Whelen guys and Eric. It was a good day!” 

    "We will take it,” said Curran. “It looked like there could be a victory there today, but we will take a third place finish in the Whelen Cadillac. It was a crazy race with a crazy start. We got tangled up and lost a part of the rear wing which caused us to lose downforce in the back which we fought all race long. My teammate (Felipe Nasr) did a killer job again today and ended up third. It was great points day and this Whelen Cadillac keeps winning podiums. The Action Express guys also nailed the pit stops so it was good team work all day. It would have been nice to win but we will take third.” 

    The next race for the Action Express Racing squad will be the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix featuring America’s Tire 250 on September 7th – 9th.

  • 06/04/2018 8:50 AM | Anonymous

    Source: Sunday Group Management - Partial Reprint

    Second victory in three years at Belle Isle comes on Sonny Whelen’s Birthday


    Detroit, Mich. (2 June 2018)   Whelen Engineering Racing used teamwork, strategy, and great race pace to score its first victory of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on Saturday in the Chevrolet Dealers Grand Prix in Detroit. 

    Drivers Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr shared the driving duties in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi-V.R to capture their third podium finish of the 2018 season. The post-race celebrations, which included a jump into the Victory Circle fountain for both drivers, were further boosted by the fact that the race victory came on the birthday of long-time motorsport and Team Fox supporter Sonny Whelen.

    A crash in Friday’s practice session could have set the team effort back, but instead the group rallied to make repairs in time for qualifying. Curran started the race from sixth in the order and was able to move to run in fifth before taking to the pit lane for a stop for fuel and a driver change. Nasr returned to the field 18th in the order but worked his way forward to the top five by lap 38. 

    A final fuel-only pit stop on lap 39 set the stage for Nasr’s run to the front as he claimed the lead on lap 44 and refused to relinquish the point to score a big win for the team. 

    "It is a combination of everything,” said Gary Nelson about the teams run to victory. “The drivers did one heck of a job and we are really thrilled with what they did today. The pit stops were great. I think we have the best pit crew out there and we nailed the timing of those stops with the 31 today.”

    "A big shout out to the Action Express, Cadillac, and GM guys who helped us get this win,” said Curran. “This is the place to be, and the place to win in our Whelen Cadillac. Hats off to the engineering team who took a not so perfect weekend and turned it around. The team did an awesome job with the car. This is my second win in the last number of years and if you are going to win a race, this is the best place to win one. It feels so satisfying to have our first win of the year. It is also a special win as it is Sonny Whelen’s birthday from Whelen. Felipe Nasr did a killer job and put it together perfectly. Again, hats off to all the guys.”

    "It was a tough race but I will take it! Eric (Curran) and the entire Action Express Racing team did a great job,” said Nasr. “After our first practice, we ended up hurting the back of the car. The guys put the car back together and we had an amazing qualifying. The race itself was all about getting the right calls and we took the Continental tires to the very end, which they hang on amazingly so I was able to drive the car fast until the end. We didn’t have a great start to  the weekend but here we are,  and I couldn't have asked for a better day to be honest. I am super happy!”

     

    The next race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be the Sahlen’s Six Hour at Watkins Glen International on July 1.

     

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