Mont-Tremblant: Heritage Motorsports Friday report

Practice: interesting turn of events The Heritage Motorsports team has taken in, as team-mate, the only driver who is mathematically capable of challenging Dave Machavern and Tommy Riggins for the driver's championship in 2003. And the season...

Practice: interesting turn of events

The Heritage Motorsports team has taken in, as team-mate, the only driver who is mathematically capable of challenging Dave Machavern and Tommy Riggins for the driver's championship in 2003. And the season is fast drawing to a close.

The gentlemanly 28 year-old João Barbosa (quickly pronounced "Joe-Wow"), from the northern Portugal city of Porto, comes to the Heritage Motorsports team as the third driver for this weekend's six-hour endurance ROLEX Grand American sports car race at the Canadian classic Mont-Tremblant road course 80 miles north of Montreal. Both Riggins and Machavern come into the weekend with 282 cumulative GTS points, while Barbosa holds 248. Barbosa lead the GTS points chase for almost the entire 2003, seven of the nine races run to this writing. He was the target which the Riggins/Machavern team were shooting for.

Coming out of the seventh race, at Mid-Ohio, João was maintaining a slim lead over the Heritage Mustang drivers, but the points lead swapped over to Riggins/Machavern after their dominating eighth 2003 performance at the Paul Revere July race at Daytona. Unfortunately for João, that was to be his last drive for the Mosler factory team, when team structure disintegrated and sponsorship went away.

With these facts as the backdrop, team owner Dave Machavern, popped a telephone call to João and broached the idea of teaming up for the Canadian event. "It's sort of a risky move," said Machavern, "since João is the only one who could challenge us for the points. But, hey, he could be a big help to us just the same."

For his part, João was very happy to get the opportunity to drive the no. 48 Mustang GTS. Although João has a Formula 1 test under his belt and is no stranger to powerful cars, he has never driven a front engined car with this much power. He told one pit regular, "I had to drive this car, to see what it's like." And after completing the first two practice sessions he said, "The car is very fast. It has power, and the handling is very good. It's a totally different driving style than what I'm used to, but I think I'm getting there slowly." "Slowly" is not the word to use for João's pace. He 's very, very fast, already making the Mustang a faster machine.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Joao Barbosa