Fittipaldi ready for Action

August 5, 2014

Fittipaldi ready for Action

August 5, 2014

fittipaldi_1Young Christian Fittipaldi was on his mobile phone when the door to his motorhome was flung open and his uncle, Emerson Fittipaldi, still clad in his red Marlboro Penske fire suit stormed in.

Forced to pit out of sequence, the former CART and F1 World Champion’s run back through the field became stalled when he was unable to find a way around Christian’s Walker Racing car in the closing stages of the IndyCar race on the tight Toronto circuit.

indy_race_gal2 8“I am so angry with you that I am going to speak to your father!” said Emerson.

“Dad, Uncle Emerson wants to talk to you,” said Christian handing over his phone.

Five thousand miles away in Brazil, Wilson Fittipaldi could only laugh. Now, nearly 20 years later, Christian Fittipaldi remains a special blend of race driver, hard to beat and easy to like.

Having made his career in IndyCars, F1 and NASCAR, Fittipaldi now, age 43, has found a home at Action Express Racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship where he and Portugal’s Joao Barbosa have combined to form a powerful driver combination.

The pair, joined by Sebastien Bourdais, opened the season with a victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and added a big win in the recent Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis to vault back into the TUDOR Championship Prototype lead.

“The Action Express combination is based on really hard work, continuity, keeping the same people together and then concentrating on the really important things,” said Fittipaldi. “That has helped us pick up good results.”

Barbosa certainly agrees, adding, “The whole Action Express team is really stepping up this year. The competition is very tight. You need everything to be perfect to win.”

The Denver, NC based Corvette DP (prototype) team owned by Bob Johnson and led by technical director Gary Nelson has had speed, if not the racing luck, in every event.

As the scene shifts to the four-mile long circuit in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine region, don’t expect the Action Express team to change their script.

“We’ve had speed all season long,” said Fittipaldi. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We are back leading the championship, but only by a couple of points. The championship is up for grabs. There are four or five cars capable of winning it so I think it will all come down to the last race.”

“We are really looking forward to Road America. It’s an awesome track,” said Fittipaldi.

“We will probably be 5 or 6 seconds a lap quicker than we were last year. The car is completely different”

The prototypes have just three races remaining, including Road America, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas and the 10 Hour Petit Le Mans season finale at Road Atlanta.

The first season of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has produced six different winners in the first eight races as the Daytona Prototypes from the former GRAND-AM Series and the P2 cars from the former American Le Mans Series trade wins.

Heading to Road America, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Nissan have all topped the podium at various times as the Action Express (Daytona and Indianapolis), Wayne Taylor Racing (Detroit) and Spirit of Daytona (Watkins Glen) teams have combined to give Chevrolet four wins.

Meanwhile, Chip Ganassi Racing has taken wins for Ford EcoBoost at Sebring and Long Beach.

Extreme Speed Motorsports and Honda celebrated an impressive victory in Monterey while Oak Racing and Nissan dominated in Canada.

In addition, the Chevrolet Corvette DPs from Marsh Racing, Michael Shank Racing’s Ford, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway pole winning second Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda, the SpeedSource Mazdas and the radical DeltaWing are all prepared to play championship spoilers.

“The championship may be starting right now,” said Fittipaldi.

And Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and the Action Express team are ready for action.

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