WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Christian Fittipaldi held off a last-lap charge from Michael Valiante to give the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP its second consecutive GRAND-AM Rolex Series victory Sunday in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International.
It was also the second consecutive win for Action Express Racing and Fittipaldi’s co-driver Joao Barbosa in the six-hour race, as Barbosa teamed with Darren Law for the victory one year ago. Fittipaldi was treated and released from the infield care center for dehydration following the event.
“Last year was quite close (in the closing laps) too, but I was in the car,” Barbosa said. “It’s hard to be on the outside watching. The initial strategy was for me to get in the end, but that’s not how it worked out. That’s what we had to do to not lose any track position.”
Driving the No. 3 8Star Motorsports Corvette DP he shared with Stephane Sarrazin and Enzo Potolicchio, Valiante eliminated most of a five-second deficit to Fittipaldi throughout his final stint, eventually finishing just 0.265 seconds short of the victory in the second-closest finish in Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen DP-class history.
Brendon Hartley finished third in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley after having to pit to top off on fuel with 13 minutes remaining. Hartley’s co-drivers were Scott Mayer and Pierre Kaffer.
Robin Liddell led the final 11 laps of the race to win in the GT class, the fourth win in five races for him and co-driver John Edwards in the No. 57 Stevenson Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R. With the win, Liddell and Edwards move to within six points (199-193) of John Potter and Andy Lally in the standings.
“There were probably five or six cars easily that could have won this race in GT,” Liddell said. “Everybody played a key part in terms of strategy and pit stops. … I thought John (Edwards) showed great maturity to just hang on.”
Leh Keen finished second in the No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD Ferrari 458 alongside Emil Assentato and Anthony Lazzaro, with Lally and Potter finishing third in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 they shared with co-driver Richard Lietz.
Scuderia Corsa driver Alessandro Balzan finished sixth and is tied for second with Liddell and Edwards in the GT standings.
Joel Miller, Tristan Nunez and Yojiro Terada gave Mazda and SpeedSource its fourth consecutive victory in the GX class in the No. 00 Visit Florida Racing Mazda6 after mechanical troubles plagued the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman and No. 70 MAZDASPEED /SpeedSource Mazda 6 earlier in the event.
“A fourth win in a row for SpeedSource proves the Skyactiv diesel is coming along quite nicely,” Miller said. “We knew the other two cars had a malfunction, so we just paced ourselves.”
The final hour of the race was dictated by pit strategy with a number of teams having to pit for a splash of fuel. The four-time defending champion No. 01 Telcel/TELMEX BMW/Riley driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas was black-flagged on the final stop for leaving the pit box with pit equipment attached. The mishap left them with a seventh-place finish.
There was a major points shakeup in the DP class with the top two teams in the standings entering the event running into problems. Wayne Taylor Racing co-drivers Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor came into the race with a one-point lead, but suffered gear lever problems on the opening lap of the race in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba Corvette DP.
The team rallied back from five laps down to finish one lap down in tenth, and the duo is now tied (194-194) with Starworks drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow. Popow, Dalziel and event co-driver Sebastien Bourdais combined to lead a race-high 58 laps in the No. 2 Soloson Ford/Riley.
The No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP duo of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty entered the race second in points, but now sit five points back (194-189) in fourth after suffering a right-front suspension failure on lap 38. Fittipaldi is now third in points, four points out (194-190) after his win.
Action Express heads to the NAEC finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a four-point lead (32-28) over Chip Ganassi Racing in the NAEC team standings. Stevenson Motorsports leads by two points (28-26) over AIM Autosport Team FXDD in GT, and BGB Motorsports holds a one-point advantage (29-28) over SpeedSource in GX.
It will be winner-take-all in the NAEC at the Brickyard Grand Prix with 20 points being awarded to the winner at the finish. Second place will receive 16 points, with third place receiving 12 points and fourth receiving eight.
The Brickyard Grand Prix is on Friday, July 26 (SPEED, 7:30 p.m. EDT).