Mont-Tremblant: Heritage Motorsports race report

The trio of drivers, Tommy Riggins, Dave Machavern and João Barbosa, won the GTS class victory at the 6-Hours of Mont-Tremblant, just north of Montreal today. This makes the 6th GTS win for the Heritage Motorsports team in the 10 races having...

The trio of drivers, Tommy Riggins, Dave Machavern and João Barbosa, won the GTS class victory at the 6-Hours of Mont-Tremblant, just north of Montreal today. This makes the 6th GTS win for the Heritage Motorsports team in the 10 races having been run this year. With two races remaining, Virginia International and the Daytona Finale, it is mathematically impossible for the team owner's title, nor the manufacturer's title to slip from Dave Machavern and from Ford, respectively. However, the driver's title is still not sewn up. Ironically, the only driver who is capable of wrestling the driver's title from the Machavern/Riggins duo is the man who helped them with today's win, João Barbosa.

The Heritage Mustang started the race from the GTS class pole at 11:00AM eastern, in 5th position behind 4 of the "faster" prototypes. Remember the "faster" part. Fuel pressure problems have been following the team all year like a lost dog. Pre-race concerns had the team change both of the fuel pumps again, but the nagging problem seemed to surface again during the race, just after 2PM. Fuel delivery is not, however, where mechanical difficulties would strike.

Early on Riggins held pace with the Daytona Prototypes, not gaining nor losing position, but at lap 16 team headsets crackled when Riggins shouted, "The steering's gone away!" Fortunately, for the team, a yellow flag caution occurred at the same time, so the call was made to change the entire steering rack. The process took right at 17-1/2 minutes. Tires, fuel and driver-change put the 48 Mustang back in the fray with Machavern at the wheel. What followed was to be perhaps the finest drive of Dave Machavern's career.

With a make-shift front tire alignment (after the steering repairs), and the spokes of the steering wheel cocked about 30 degrees off, Machavern settled in to a rhythm which saw his lap-times tumble. Not only did he pull a long stint at the wheel, but he approached times within about half-a-second to what Riggins had been turning. The performance advanced his Mustang several places up on the board, resulting in his handing the car over to the guidance of Barbosa at lap 60 (approx. 1:10PM).

Lap 61 would be João's first race lap in the big Mustang. He put the car into 12th position and started narrowing the gap to the leading GTS, no. 38 Corvette of Holtom/Martin/Hayner. To this point João (pronounced Joe-wow) had only practice laps in the Mustang, and as expected. his lap times were shrinking. Before he took a well-deserved break and handed the car back to Riggins on lap 102, he had turned a fast lap of 1 minute and 32.498 seconds. Almost 2 whole seconds below Riggins pole qualifying lap, which in-turn had broken the track record for GTS by almost 5 seconds. The Mustang was hot as a blister.

Two laps after Riggins climbed in the 5th caution flag of the day flew, but when the green came out he started carving away at his own qualifying record and busted it by more than a second before handing the car back to Barbosa at lap 137 (about 3:20PM). There was an hour and a half still to race and, so fast was the driving, the Mustang was getting seriously close to challenging again for the lead, within 3 laps of the leading GTS/Hayner-driven Corvette. Riggins and Machavern started their calculations and decided the Corvette could be caught and passed before the checker fell. The next many laps were the most thrilling part of the day for the Heritage Motorsports team. During this time Barbosa would teach the big Mustang how to run.

Perhaps the Corvette team could see the possibility of the Mustang overhauling their effort, or perhaps the Corvette was just tiring out. Bottom line. the Corvette started to overheat and within several more laps it was pulled behind the wall, terminal. This put the Mustang, already hopeful to lead GTS, squarely in the lead. Barbosa could coast home. But no! He now started to turn even faster lap times and, incredibly, turned a 1:31:856, only half-a-second slower than the fastest lap of the race which was recorded by the Borcheller driven Chevy/Doran Daytona Prototype!. further dropping the track record for the GTS class.

On lap 160 (approx. 4:05PM), and with about 45 minutes remaining in the race, João pitted and handed the wheel to Dave Machavern to bring the Mustang to the checker. It was not to be. In only 4 more laps team headsets jolted to troubling noises. "The transmission is gone," radioed Machavern. He eased into the pits on lap 164, and even though the team did all they could to find a way to lock in even one gear, it was hopeless.

But. the Mustang's lead over the other GTS entries was great enough, by this time, that the win was secured.

Dave Machavern had driven his best-ever. Tommy Riggins had obliterated the track record in qualifying, and the quiet Portuguese, João Barbosa, had squeezed more out of the big Mustang than ever before.

The Donohue/Borkowski/Massen driven no.58 Porsche/Fabcar Daytona Prototype had taken the overall first place for the day (it's best lap half-a-second SLOWER than the Mustang), by being terribly consistent. The sister no. 59 Porsche/Fabcar of Haywood/France/Papis, took overall second. These two, including the first-place for the Mustang, made for sort of a Jacksonville, Florida sweep of the Canadian event, all three of the teams being stationed there.

There has been some discussion about Barbosa joining the team for the October race in Virginia, two weeks from now, but it's too early to make a firm announcement.

-hm/dw-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Joao Barbosa , Tommy Riggins