DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chevrolet has written another chapter in its storied motorsports history at Daytona International Speedway. A trio of Corvette Daytona Prototypes swept the overall podium at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Action Express Racing leading the Bowtie charge. Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais in their No. 5 Corvette DP gave Chevrolet its first overall victory in the Rolex 24 since 2001.
“Today’s winning effort in the Rolex 24 At Daytona was the result of tremendous preparation, focus and execution put forth by our Corvette Daytona Prototype teams in the inaugural race of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship,” said Jim Campbell, US Vice President of Performance Vehicle and Motorsports. “Thanks to Action Express Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona Racing for delivering the top-four overall finishing positions in the prestigious race.
“In addition, congratulations to Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdais and the entire No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP team on capturing the first win for the Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona International Speedway.”
Campbell added: "The Chevrolet small block V8 delivered a combination of power, fuel economy and reliability all race long."
Barbosa won overall at the Rolex for the second time, and Sunday marked his third career class win in the race. Fittipaldi added a second overall title to his résumé, and Bourdais won the Rolex 24 for the first time in his career.
After winning the last two DP engine manufacturer championships in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, Chevrolet is off to its best possible start in the new TUDOR Championship – a merger of the Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series. After the Corvette DP of Angelelli, and Wayne, Jordan and Ricky Taylor, Action Express’ No. 9 entry placed third with Brian and Burt Frisselle, John Martin and Fabien Grioix teaming together.
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona entry gave Chevrolet power the top four positions in the race. Five different Corvette DPs led the race for a total of 593 of the 695 laps.
“It was a tremendous victory for our entire Corvette Daytona Prototype,” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager for Daytona Prototypes. “Not only win the race, but to finish one through four is a credit to the dedicated effort put forth by everyone involved. Out of six cars entered, other than the No. 99 that was involved in a crash, the remaining five were running at the end of the race. We had no issues with the Chevrolet engines. Just a great way to start the season.”
The next round of the TUDOR Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 15 at Sebring International Raceway.
Bob Johnson, Joao Barbosa, Sebastien Bourdais And Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP – Rolex 24 Race Winners
THE MODERATOR: We have our 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona champions, the opening round of the United SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP, Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais are the drivers, owner is Bob Johnson. Bob, let's get your thoughts to start off as a local guy and getting another win here in this race, the second win here for you.
BOB JOHNSON: Well, my first comment would be to congratulate the Wayne Taylor Racing group. If we didn't have competitors like the 10 car guys, this wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Those guys are awesome. They give us a run for the money at every event. So congratulations to them. They really ran a good race today.
The first event in 2010 that happened to turn into a win was a ‑‑ I was probably the one that expected that the least of anybody, but this one wasn't unexpected. This one we expected to win.
Our guys have all worked extremely hard to get the win, and these guys did an awesome job, as you all witnessed. So I'm just proud as can be that all that hard work paid off.
THE MODERATOR: Let's hear from the drivers now. Christian, this is your second Rolex 24 victory, first since 2004. You kind of returned to full‑time action here the last year or so with Action Express Racing. Sum up what that's been like, getting back to winning here again at the Rolex 24.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: I just hope it doesn't take me another 10 years to win again. No, it's been awesome. Action, Joao, myself, Chevy, we had a great run last year, actually things Joao did when both of us were together in the car, and I think it made maybe the 9 car stronger and it made the 5 car a lot stronger.
I have to admit that the way things were going last year, I thought that we had a chance at the championship, although we only started driving together on race 4. But it didn't go our way, and this race definitely went our way.
I think preparation for this race didn't start two, three months ago, it started one year ago when we left this place, and we knew exactly what were our strong points and what were our failures or maybe like weak points and where we had to improve to make the whole organization a lot stronger.
I'm very happy for Action. I'm really happy for Chevy. Joao did an okay job. No, Joao drove like really, really perfectly the last couple of laps, Sebastien, also, Joao did very quick with us, and I guess the three of us, it worked pretty okay. We'll see what can happen in Sebring, but I'm definitely looking forward to the next race, also.
THE MODERATOR: This is the first Rolex 24 victory for Sebastien. He's obviously a four‑time Champ Car World Series champion. Sebastien, can you put into words what it means to you to win the Rolex 24?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you know, it's one of these big races that you just want to put on your résumé. I've been chasing Le Mans many times to get a Rolex, and that didn't work out, so I came here. (Laughter.)
I was like, this is like bad, bad, bad, and he was right. The guys were prepared. Everybody was on top of things. Everybody knew exactly what to do and how to do it, and the execution was perfect. Car was reliable. The Chevy engine in the car. What can I say? It's a dream come true. I've been coming here a few times already and never really had a shot, but this year from the start of the weekend and pretty much even before that, the first test sessions, through the Roar and all week we've been running at the front. In these moments, you're like, hmm, when are things going to go bad, and it didn't. We made it stick, and my teammates did a fantastic job. It's a heck of a feeling, and I couldn't be any happier. Thanks to Action Express, Bob and Jim France because they made that possible.
THE MODERATOR: Let's hear from Joao. This is his third class victory in the Rolex 24, his second win overall. Obviously he was part of the 2010 overall victory here, as well, with Action Express. Joao, congratulations. Maybe your thoughts on seeing that full‑course caution come out with 20 minutes to go and what you had to do to make it happen.
JOAO BARBOSA: I was very surprised. Probably Max, he said he saw a lot of debris that I really didn't see probably. I was looking somewhere else. I was really surprised by that caution, but it's racing, and we just had to deal with it. When they did the wave‑by I saw there was a car between me and Max, and I saw there was quite a bit of opportunity considering how the rules are at this point that I could have an advantage there, and I took it, and I just was able to build enough cushion to ‑‑ I don't say it was going to be easy, but at least I had enough margin for maneuver, so I had quite a comfortable gap at the end.
Q. You can say, well, that's racing and you just deal with it, but you still won. If you had been passed in that situation, would you be as diplomatic about that caution as you are right now?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Hell no. (Laughter.)
JOAO BARBOSA: I mean, we're here, we won the race, so that's another scenario that didn't happen, so I don't know if it's worth it to be talking about it right now. I mean, the racing is racing, and we are in the car, and we just drive the race that is happening to us.
It's out of our control, and we just do the best that we can with what we have and consider the circumstances. I mean, it worked out good for us today. Maybe some other day it won't, but it's the name of the game.
Q. Joao, we had some conversations, they seem had some tough times in November. Talk about recovering and getting here, and from a team standpoint you guys have come a long way to sit where you're sitting.
JOAO BARBOSA: I mean, we all say the same thing, but it's never enough to repeat. As soon as the rules came out, even before the new rules came out, we were already testing with some parts that could be put in the car. As soon as the new series started, we knew what we had to work. We did a lot of preparation and a lot of work before even the rules came out. We were one of the cars; I think the only car that was in all the tests before this race. We never missed a test. The guys did ‑‑ I don't know how they did it up in the shop in North Carolina because those guys work so hard to get us ready and prepared, especially after the little incident that we had here in November with the tire issue. I mean, we had to rebuild the car from scratch, and we were here and we were at Sebring testing and we were everywhere. We never missed a test just because of that.
It's good, took a lot of preparation. It's an ongoing process, and I think finally everything is clicking and everything is working really well. I mean, this definitely didn't happen overnight. The guys, they put over 12,000 hours of work since the last race. I mean, it's unbelievable what they have done so far. And of course this win, it's a great prize for them.
Q. Your commitments in IndyCar this year, is it possible you'll make more races? How different is the behavior of a DP car compared to a European prototype car?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, I mean obviously to the first question, IndyCar is my main program. It's a full season. It's a two‑year deal with KB Racing and Chevy. Really pretty excited about that.
Thankfully the IndyCar season only starts after Sebring, so I could do pretty easily Daytona and get warmed up and do the 12 hours, as well. And then after the season do Petit. It worked out really good. I had a great opportunity to drive with these guys, and I couldn't be any happier right now. There are worse ways to start the season for sure.
And then more races, I don't know. Obviously they don't need me on a two‑and‑a‑half‑hour event, and I can't make Watkins Glen, so that makes it pretty easy. I think the IndyCar schedule from the end of March to the end of August is not going to give me much room to do much else. Just going to try and do well at what I've already committed and hopefully grab a bunch of wins this year.
I guess, you know, here the cars are very specific. They're very, very light on downforce. The track is pretty slippery and particularly when the sun comes out. It does a lot of sliding around.
Obviously on the European prototypes with slightly bigger tires, more downforce, the car doesn't tend to slide as much. But then when you go to Sebring, it wasn't that big a difference because we're running around I think in the 50s at Sebring, and on bad day with the Peugeot it was 48, 49. So it's pretty close. The cars actually got very decent power, and with the extra downforce from the new rules, it's pretty exciting. The car is fun to drive.
Q. Four years ago your car essentially was a ‑‑ I don't want to say Guinea pig, but Bob and Jim were trying to develop the Porsche V8 engine. You've made a lot of changes in a lot of ways with your people, with your cars in the last four years. Are you amazed with the direction that you've wound up in and how far and how fast you've done it in just four years?
BOB JOHNSON: Well, I am a little surprised with how quickly we've been successful, but not as many changes as you might think. We have a lot of the same personnel, even carrying over from the Brumos days. I mean, we have people that have been a part of the organization from the beginning of when Brumos started racing.
So yeah, it's a little surprising because we have accomplished a lot in a short time, but again, it's just because of all the hard work, and people like Gary Nelson and Elton Sawyer and Coyote and the whole organization is behind us. When we had the problem with the car and did all the significant damage to it in November, if we hadn't had Coyote behind us to put another chassis in place very quickly, we couldn't have put the car together and been racing again as quickly as we did.
It's part of the organization, and that's what makes it possible.
Q. Christian, you talked yesterday about your little hiatus to go to Brazil and start a family. Now you're back, and that took longer than you thought it would. Do you feel like this is maybe a resurgence in your career or a start‑over?
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: Well, let's put it this way: I have a U.S. passport, so I'm American, also. I intend to be here a long time. I really enjoy this place. I really love the country a lot. Not only in my sports car days but also back in my IndyCar days, Newman‑Haas, Carl Haas, Paul Newman, which my partner here also drove for them like they were a very special family, and I owe a lot to them. They gave me a lot of opportunities. And now like in sports cars and with Action and Joao and Bob and obviously like the whole team, I feel very, very comfortable, and hopefully they feel the same with me.
Why not? I think sports car racing in this country is starting a new era right now, and we don't know where this is going to lead like in the next couple of years. But I am happy to be running together with them, extremely happy, and I'm putting all my effort into the program right now.
Q. Touching on what you just brought up, the new era, it was a good debut for the unified series. There's mixed reactions on the full‑course yellow and then the penalty in the other class. I'm wondering, you've been part of other racing series and also NASCAR, if you think that maybe the way the officiating was in the final 40 or so minutes might be where the series is headed?
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI: Well, I don't know so much about like the penalty box. We actually had a penalty ourselves with about three hours or four hours, six hours to go, and that definitely could have cost us the win. On the fact of the restart and where exactly should you be, I think if you're leading the race, there's a merit to you, to your team and to your car, so you should have an advantage.
It's the same thing if you do the quickest time in, for example, the practice qualifying. You start on the best place in the track because otherwise there wouldn't be any sense in being like the quickest guy out there. If you're on pole position, you get to pick what's the right side of the track, and you start on the best situation possible. If you're leading the race, I guess you should have also a small advantage so, I'm basically for that rule, and today I guess it worked our way, but maybe the next race is not going to work our way. But I am in favor of it.
Q. How would you guys rate the reliability and the power of the engines? Consider when you look at your class compared to how the Fords kind of struggled throughout the course of the weekend.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think it speaks for itself, really, the Chevy power and the ECR guys did an awesome job. They locked up the entire podium. It was a pretty strong showing this weekend. Obviously Ford came out with a new product, so it's kind of to be expected that it was going to be a little bit rough around the edges. Chevy was definitely prepared for this one, and they got the result.
BOB JOHNSON: I might just add, I'm sure you're aware; there were problems with the Chevys in testing and at the Roar, and ECR made an all‑out effort to get down here and get those problems solved. I'm not saying that Ford didn't make the same effort, but it paid off for Chevy. They put a tremendous effort into it.
Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli, Ricky Taylor And Jordan Taylor, No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP – finished second
THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by the four drivers in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor, Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli. Let's start with Max. Talk if you can about the last little run to the checkered flag, if you thought you had a shot at him, and just accomplishing a podium, a second‑place result here with these guys.
I thought I had when I picked up the car for the final two stints. Also because, again, a lot of seconds to him. But the final rush, unfortunately not.
THE MODERATOR: Wayne, just maybe your emotions right now having, again, wound up on the podium, coming out of retirement with the well‑chronicled deal here with a long‑time friend and associate and obviously your two sons.
WAYNE TAYLOR: Firstly, I'd like to just say that it was a heck of a race. It was an incredible weekend, an emotional weekend to be in a situation to have my kids and Max is like my oldest kid, to be together. We've been around each other for the last 20 years, whatever it is.
And Chevrolet, Mark Kent, Mark Reuss, Jim Campbell and everybody at Chevrolet invested so much in this program, when the Corvette program first started some two years ago, that this win was for them. Obviously I wanted to do it ‑‑ I wanted to be the team that did it first. You know what, those guys did a great job. They beat us fair and square, and they deserved to win, so I congratulate all those guys.
But really, I'm still really happy to have had this experience and to have had everybody support it so much. It was just a great weekend.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Wayne. Jordan, obviously a really good run for you. Just talk about how it went.
JORDAN TAYLOR: Yeah, it was a long race for everyone, I guess. Obviously starting off with the crash at the beginning was probably on everyone's mind the entire race. Hopefully Memo is doing okay. I haven't heard anything about Matteo, but obviously best wishes to those guys. But yeah, the race was a bit crazy. I think it was a unique year with a lot of drivers making questionable moves out there. It was very easy to make a mistake and hit someone who wasn't really paying attention. It was easy to get caught up in other people's trouble, and that's kind of what happened to us this morning when a DP lost it and I had to avoid it going off the track and we had to make an unscheduled stop to clean off the radiator. So that was a bit frustrating. We had a clean race, almost the exact same as last year where we didn't have one mechanical issue. We only came in for fuel, tires and driver. We never went behind the wall, so it's a testament to the team and we came away with second last year and second this year. Hopefully it's a good trend, and we can win the championship again.
THE MODERATOR: Ricky, obviously you're returning to the team after a little bit away. Talk about getting back with the family team here.
RICKY TAYLOR: Yeah, it's really cool. It had been a year, and we had been the enemy for a year, and now I came back and I felt like the family again. I mean, for the four of us to be up here, the relationship we have together, like Max is like our brother, and we're always teasing my dad. It's just kind of weird that we're on this big of a stage, and just us four weird guys up here. It's kind of cool.
WAYNE TAYLOR: Speak for yourself.
Q. Wayne, are you done on retiring for the 27th time?
WAYNE TAYLOR: I found out during the race that you made a statement that I was the weak link in the team, so I'm not sure if I'm going to even answer that one.
Q. Is this news to you?
WAYNE TAYLOR: No, no, no. To be honest, these guys will support me in saying this, I didn't really want to do this. I didn't want to make an idiot of myself. If you drive race cars all your life you always want to be the quickest guy, and now suddenly I'm coming in being the slowest guy, buy so slow that I'm questioning should I be on the track or not. But actually it worked out to be really good. They put me in the car at a good time and I had a lot of fun. But I could never ‑‑ you could never bring this moment back, and to try and make this another moment, it reminds me of a lot of racing drivers that just hang on and hang on and hang on and don't stop when they're getting slower, and for me this moment came, and it's here, and I could never make this happen again.
Q. What's worse, finishing second or having your sons crack on you the entire race about everything involving your driving?
JORDAN TAYLOR: That's every day.
WAYNE TAYLOR: Ricky is a lot more gentle on me, but Jordan is really a terror. The first thing, we got out of the car, and I said, you need to smile because we have a good result. He said, I have nothing to smile about. The two of them are like really different.
And unfortunately Jordan and I are the same, and Ricky is like his mother. It's quite a contrast, but that's how it is.
Q. Max, on the last restart, he seemed to get a pretty good jump on you, and you had to wait until the green flew before you could go around the second‑place car. Explain that rule, where it is you get to finally make the move to pass and chase after him and how frustrating is that to watch him pulling away before you're even able to stomp on the gas?
MAX ANGELELLI: Correct. I feel that rule is really unfair because, I could just (inaudible) on the throttle wide open, a lot earlier than me for a much longer time, so he basically pulled a couple of seconds, I think, and I couldn't do anything because the P2 car in the straight, he was wide open, as well, but I couldn't do anything. That was really frustrating.
WAYNE TAYLOR: Yeah, I don't think he actually meant that it is unfair. I think what he was trying to say is that that rule is a little strange, and it makes it even more strange if you are a DP car and you get caught with 27 GTs between you and the leader, and then the leader can accelerate as soon as the lights go off and control the start. I wouldn't say it's unfair, but that's what the rule is now, but I think it's a rule that should maybe be looked at.
Q. Without that rule do you think you would have had a chance?
MAX ANGELELLI: Yes, we were very strong in turn No. 1. That was the assigned place to try something.
Q. 15 minutes before the race, something like that, the television shot your face, and you were talking to Max on the radio. As you mentioned, it was very emotional. Can you maybe say what you talked to him? Was it some kind of advice? And it was mentioned that you were running really a family team. In case your two sons have difficult opinion setting up a car than their father, is it difficult to convince them to change their minds?
WAYNE TAYLOR: I talk to Max a lot but he doesn't listen every time. I just said to him, you know, you're the guy we think we need to have in at the end. You can make the difference. We all decided that.
You know, when Jordan brought the car in, we looked like we had a car that could win the race. Early on in the evening Max had been in that same position, and I think had passed everybody in the field. We thought it was the right decision to be made at that time.
As far as the setting up the car, I just got told how to drive it, so I had nothing to do with it.
Q. Max, I've got two questions. The first is I know that the caution was your best chance to win the race, but were you surprised to see a full‑course caution there?
MAX ANGELELLI: No, no, that happened already in the past. No, I wasn't surprised. We need a yellow. There was a lot of debris.
Q. You're now getting out of a car, so you sort of made way for Ricky, and you're going to do only the endurance races. Are you going to miss doing this all the time?
MAX ANGELELLI: I don't know yet. I may. I don't know. Maybe not. He's very happy not driving, so maybe I'll feel the same.
Q. Is there any chance, could you guys put together a second team? I know Wayne wouldn't be your co‑driver, but is that possible and you would consider a full season?
WAYNE TAYLOR: We say that every year, and we really do want to do that, but it's incredibly hard in this sport today to find the backing and the commercial partners that understand the business of racing. Now with this merger, which I think is great for the sport, the short‑term is difficult because the costs have gone up so dramatically that it's very hard to first find the budget for your first car, let alone the second car. We've been working for three years to build up the assets to run it, but we've always made the point that we wouldn't do it unless we had proper commercial partners and stuff. And if we did that, obviously Max would drive and for sure I wouldn't.
Q. Ricky, the Richard Childress bunch seems pretty impressed with your stock car racing prowess. Any chance you might end up doing something with those guys?
RICKY TAYLOR: I mean, it's a great connection, and I did like a truck test and a dirt test, and it was a lot of fun, but I think at the end of the day, it also comes down to money. You know, I'm really engrained in sports car racing, and with the new series, it's really a great time to continue my career here and try to build a life here rather than risking everything and going that way.
But I'd love to always keep that option open for road courses or whatever, have somebody just put me in a car.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thanks for joining us.
John Martin, Fabien Giroix, Brian Frisselle And Burt Frisselle – finished third
THE MODERATOR: We have our third‑place finishers here today overall and in the Prototype class for the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona, co‑drivers of the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, Burt Frisselle, Brian Frisselle, John Martin and Fabien Giroix. Burt, why don't you start us off, just take us through how it went for you guys today. Do you feel like you kind of maybe through under the radar a little bit to get this third place?
THE MODERATOR: Brian, obviously your dad raced, you and Burt raced together. Talk a little bit about kind of the family connection and how important it is for you guys to have success together.
BRIAN FRISSELLE: Well, it's just a nice thing that we're very blessed to be able to have success together. Dad was on the podium here at the 24 Hours of Daytona. He won Sebring, so Sebring is up next, so hopefully we can match his mark there.
You know, I've just got to tip my hat to the whole team, Action Express, and Delta Motorsports, just for putting together two great cars. Both cars on the podium, both cars on the lead lap, one car wins, which is how it's going to have to be, and also I mean, it was a tough race just because it started off with a terrible accident with a good friend Memo Gidley, and our thoughts are with him. We know he's already started his recovery, but it quickly puts into perspective what you're doing out there and what really matters.
THE MODERATOR: Fabien, just talk about this experience of coming here, joining this team and lining up on the podium.
FABIEN GIROIX: It was fantastic for me because it was the first time I come to Daytona, and I never expect when I come to the beginning of January to make the test here, I never imagine that we can do a podium. We had a fantastic car, great teammates who make very good job, and as a team, Action Express and Delta, Millennium Development, fantastic job.
THE MODERATOR: John, your comments on a fine effort here?
JOHN MARTIN: Yeah, I mean, just to back up what everyone said really, I think the whole Millennium Delta Motorsports, Action Express team have done amazing, same as Fabien. Really it's my first time here, first time driving the car. So to come here and sort of run up front all day was amazing, really. Had some good teammates, obviously Burt and Brian have been here a fair bit, so it was certainly good to have them and their experience all this week. Thanks a lot, guys. Yeah, it's a privilege to be up here, really.
Q. Burt, you said earlier you had two cars winning the race, and I think maybe you stay in this kind of standard for the rest of the season. How identical are both cars in the setup? I think you're sharing information with your sister car. And having two cars winning a race, is there any decision made before the race that you didn't put each other out?
BURT FRISSELLE: Yeah, I mean, basically the motto of Action Express starting back at last year was two cars, one team. So when it comes to in terms of data sharing, our lead engineer Ian Watt, it really is a two‑car effort that's really one team as opposed to traditional two‑car teams that are almost operating as two separate teams that share the same shop. We have very much ‑‑ the cars roll to the track often within let's say 100‑pound spring difference, maybe that. And very often they're very close, and we do share everything. And when our engineers do take different paths, we all get together and find out what's working for what car.
The other thing that's been really great about that relationship is the relationship Brian and I have developed with Christian as well over the last year, and the drivers have that same synergy, as well. So I think we're very lucky, and I thought it worked unbelievably with the Millennium Delta Motorsports guys to come in. They brought their engineer David, their dad Chris, they're basically their version of Elton Sawyer, they like to call it, they've got a gentleman named Simon, and those guys integrated into the team seamlessly and really ran the car. So really it was an Action Express prepared car, crewed car, but run by their effort, and it shows that guys have been racing in Europe that haven't come to Daytona and haven't fought this with some guidance from Action. They came in and did an absolute brilliant job of running it, calling it, collaborating, and we all worked well together from the start of the race to the end.