LEXINGTON, Ohio (30 April 2019) – Mustang Sampling Racing is looking to continue its winning ways in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition this weekend as the team eyes another strong run in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, May 5 (NBC SN 1:30 PM ET live broadcast).
Coming off a big victory at Long Beach in the most recent IMSA event, Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa will pilot the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. in the two hour, forty-minute race on Sunday.
“The winning feeling is great, especially when it’s not expected,” Albuquerque said of the run to Long Beach victory. “We had a rough start to the season, but in IMSA anything is possible and that is great; the key is staying out of trouble and be always ready to grab the opportunity for the win. We did that at Long Beach, and that motivates us a lot.”
At Long Beach, outstanding pit strategy and teamwork put the Mustang Sampling Cadillac Prototype in position to dominate the second half of the race for the second straight year, with Albuquerque leading the final 29 laps.
“That’s what we, as a team, race for, is those first place trophies,” Barbosa said. “After the race, we celebrated, but the next day we were already focusing on Mid-Ohio, and what we could have done better or different. We love to win, but hate even more to lose.”
Last year, the Mustang Sampling team finished fourth in the WeatherTech Championship race at Mid-Ohio.
“Last year Mid-Ohio was a great result to earn the P4 because that was the most we could achieve that weekend with how everything was,” Albuquerque recalled. “It was impossible to do more but I hope we can fight for a podium this weekend. I am also looking forward to experiencing the Michelins at Mid-Ohio and hope they can give us a very connected feeling car to race with.”
Barbosa shares his teammate’s feeling about the Michelins.
“Michelin has been a great partner this year,” Barbosa said. “We cannot forget that Continental had a big role in supporting the series and helping take it to where it is today. Michelin has a different approach and you can tell their wealth of experience in this type of cars has helped everyone to extract a little more speed from these prototypes.”
The team has one Grand-Am Rolex Series victory at Mid-Ohio, with Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi winning the 2013 event in the No. 5 Corvette DP – their first victory together in a combination that led to two WeatherTech Championship titles in addition to four consecutive Patron Endurance Cups. Comparing his two co-drivers, Barbosa found one key common denominator – they are both winners.
“Christian and Filipe are two completely different persons and drivers,” Barbosa said. ‘Each one has his own strength that helps them achieve such results. I would say the only similar thing is that top step of the podium!”
Coming away from the temporary Long Beach circuit with its imposing barriers, Albuquerque feels there is still no room for error coming to the natural terrain Mid-Ohio circuit.
“We don’t have walls at Mid-Ohio, but if we put a wheel wrong, it’s easy to crash,” Albuquerque explained. “That grass looks good but it’s slippery, and the car will jump a lot and for sure will get damage if you get off course. Coming here there is again no room for mistake.”
“Mid-Ohio is a very technical track; it’s not easy to overtake but it makes for good tight racing,” Barbosa said. “All the tracks challenge the drivers in different ways, and definitely Mid-Ohio with the elevation changes and grip level, it’s one of those tracks that puts you to the test.”
The Acura Sports Car Challenge takes the green flag at 1:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 5. The race will be televised live on NBCSN, with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.