João Barbosa and Perspective Racing Team disappointed with VIR 500 outcome.
Riviera Beach,FL.( September 04, 2002) - After their second place at the Grand American Road Racing Bully Hill Vineyards 250 at Watkins Glen, Perspective Racing's Mosler Racing team of João Barbosa, co-driven by Michel Neugarten from Monte Carlo and Thierry Perrier from France expected much from their participation in the VIR500 that took place September 01 at Virginia International Raceway.After posting the second fastest time in qualifying for the race on his last timed run in the last minutes of the session, things looked good for the race. "We couldn't get a run when the track had less standing water", said Joao Barbosa. "The Porsche was the only car to get a clean first lap when the track was at its best, so I am happy to have beaten the Scuderia Washington Ferrari in equal conditions. It is important to start up front, even though it is a 6 hour race, because it is very difficult to overtake in this track due to its very narrow nature."
Joao Barbosa and his team mates were looking forward to the race:" We have a very good set-up, the team is well prepared, and we should be in a position to beat the Porsche and the Ferrari that are our strongest opposition in the Championship". "Despite the rain that fell every day, the Mosler MT900R was very competitive every time we were on the track, and in the most varied climatic conditions. In every free practice or timed session we were always at the front. It is the very first time that the team the car and I have been to this track, but we found a great set-up that worked well under all different weather conditions. That was demonstrated with the 2nd place in qualifying when we beat cars of the more powerful classes."
The race, however, did not go according to plan: "The race started well, I made a great start and on the second turn I passed the Porsche to take the lead, taking advantage of a small open space that he did not cover. We had a little bit of contact between us but it was fair racing, and nobody was affected by it. In a track were overtaking is so difficult, I had to make the most of every chance I had", said Joao Barbosa. "Once in the lead, I was able to open a 12 second advantage until a problem with the shifter cables forced me to pit, as I was stuck in gear. We lost several laps correcting the problem, which turned out to be a manufacturing defect, and with that, our chances to fight for a win and the championship lead evaporated."
With two races left in the Championship, everything's still up for grabs, although the VIR500 result makes matters more complicated: "With this result we have dropped to third place in the driver's Championship, 16 points behind the Ferrari drivers and 12 points in the team's Championship with two races to go" said a disappointed Joao Barbosa. "It will be more difficult to win the Championship now, but it is possible. We can win the next two races as the Mosler always goes well at Daytona, and we should be right up with the Porsche and Ferrari at Mont Tremblant."
The next race will be the 6 hours of Mont Tremblant, Quebec, on September 15th. It will be the first visit of the Rolex Grand Am series to this circuit. The race will be shown on the Speed Channel on September 21st
Originally from Portugal, João Barbosa is a highly respected driver with a rapidly growing worldwide fan base and a commitment to continuing achievements in the sport of racing. He is an experienced and award-winning driver whose credits include winning the Portuguese Go Kart Championship (1988-1989-1990), the Hong Kong Junior Go Kart Grand Prix (1990), the Portuguese Formula Ford Championship (1994), The Formula Europa Boxer (1995), Rookie of the Year in the Italian Formula 3 Championship (1996), and the Rising Star Award in the Formula Kool/Toyota Atlantic Championship (1997).
Joao Barbosa also raced in the Go Kart World Championship, the International Sports Racing Series (ISRS), the Grand Am, the ALMS, the Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC), as well as testing for the factory Alfa Romeo DTM team and for the Scuderia Minardi Formula 1 Team.