Monterey, Calif. (24 September 2017) – The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa finished a frustrated fifth at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday. The duo ran in podium position from the drop of the green flag until late in the race, but had their champagne ambitions thwarted by a tangle with traffic in the closing laps to fall to fifth at the finish.
Fittipaldi started the race from the front row and slotted into second at the start, working to conserve both fuel and tires on the notoriously low-grip circuit. The race ran at a flat out pace under green flag conditions as Fittipaldi turned the Cadillac over to Barbosa on lap 29 and the team delivered a quick stop for full service.
Barbosa ran in second for the first 20 laps of his stint until stopping on lap 58 for a second set of Continental tires and a full load of fuel.
A lap 61 yellow flag saw the field bunched for the safety car period as Barbosa restarted from third on lap 65. A final fast pit stop on lap 81 saw the Portuguese racer return to the fray in third for the closing segment of the race. The duo were looking to score a breakthrough podium at the track as Barbosa ran solidly in third place in the closing moments of the race. Unfortunately for the championship duo, late race traffic conspired to cost the racers track position as they crossed the line in fifth at the finish.
“It was a tough race,” Barbosa said. “With a couple laps to go I thought I made a safe pass up into the kink into the Corkscrew, but I got hit in the right rear. That threw me off a little bit and then I got passed by two other prototypes. It is disappointing because we lost some points today. We have one more to go and try to win at Road Atlanta but this was a frustrating way to end the day.”
“The car was good for the beginning of my stint,” Fittipaldi said. “Up until the middle of my run it started to get too loose. We were holding our own. We were moving between second and third the whole race. Unfortunately Joao (Barbosa) got caught out in traffic and lost a few positions at the end. We will move onto Petit in two weeks.”
The 2014 and 2015 IMSA Champions will look to close the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship ‘season off on a high note in two weeks time with a winning outing in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 7.