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Larry Ott: Barbosa seeks three-peat at Glen event

Joao Barbosa is looking to score a three-peat Sunday at Watkins Glen International in what he says will be a most challenging six-hour endurance “traffic jam” when he and his Action Express Racing No. 5 Corvette Daytona Prototype teammates Christian Fittipaldi and Burt Frisselle compete in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

Barbosa won at The Glen in 2012 with former Action Express co-driver Darren Law and last season with Fittipaldi.

Barbosa says that he and Fittipaldi have developed a real good chemistry.

Fifty five entries over four classes, the largest number for the Sahlen’s race since 1984, are set to take the green flag at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Barbosa expects the path to victory to be harder then ever with the increased competition due to the merger of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

“With 55 cars racing around Watkins Glen, it’s going to be a crazy race and one of the keys is going to be keeping our nose clean for the whole six hours so that we can be around for the end and hopefully get our third win in row,” said Barbosa, a native of Porto, Portugal.

“Also the competition due to the new TUDOR series, will be a huge challenge,” he said. “It’s been a big achievement for our whole team to win the last two six-hour races at Watkins Glen. It’s an important race, and it’s real endurance racing and Action Express knows how to step up the program.”

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen is also part of the four-race Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Barbosa, along with Fittipaldi and Sebastien Bourdais, currently lead the North American Cup standings, buoyed by their victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

Bourdais will not be at The Glen as he will be competing with the Indy Car Series in Houston this weekend. The pairing of Barbosa and Fittipaldi is second in TUDOR Prototype points, trailing the Wayne Taylor Racing’s Taylor brothers, Ricky and Jordan, 160-153.

“The Rolex 24 win was a great win because of a lot of reasons,” said Barbosa. “It was the first race for our new Daytona Prototype rules package with the added down force. Secondly, it was the first race for the new TUDOR series, which marks a new historical era in American sports car racing and it also set us up well in the North American Endurance Cup standings, which we hope continues with good luck this coming weekend at Watkins Glen. It would be amazing to win at The Glen three years in a row.”

Action Express will also have a second Daytona Prototype racing at The Glen as Jon Fogarty along with brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle will co-drive the No. 9 entry.

The four TUDOR classes that will compete in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen are Prototypes, Prototype Challenge, GTLM and GTD.

In the GTLM class, Jonathan Bomarito will be at The Glen racing for the two-car entry featuring SRT Motorsports Dodge Vipers, which will campaign a brand new graphics scheme for the race at Watkins Glen.

The new scheme is predominantly red with some white in places and recalls Viper’s long racing heritage.

Bomarito will co-drive the No. 93 SRT Viper with Kuno Wittmer, while the team’s No. 91 machine will have Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens behind the wheel.

Bomarito was at The Glen last month testing the SRT Dodge Viper and says that the GTLM entry is quite quicker then the GT class car he last drove at The Glen in 2012 when he was racing in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series for the SpeedSource Mazda.

“The track at Watkins Glen is always a pleasure to drive no matter what type of car you are in,” said Bomarito. “But the GTLM cars have far more grip, so the fast corners are now even faster and the braking zones are shorter. I’m glad that we did the test in May at The Glen because it got us up to speed and now we can show up for the race weekend and be well prepared right from the start.”

Bomarito grew up in the shadows of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, Calf.

This famed road course gave him the appetite to race.

“I always enjoyed seeing all the cars as I was growing up,” said Bomarito. “There was a military base behind the track, and I would ride my bike as a kid right up to the back of the Cork Screw (famous track feature) and see all the cars racing by. There was Indy Cars and sports cars and that’s how I caught the racing bug.”

As SRT has changed the graphics scheme on its two Vipers from the former mostly silver livery, it is bound to get noticed by the fans especially veteran sports car followers who recall Viper’s racing history.

“It’s kind of exciting,” said Bomarito of the new scheme. “So far it’s got a lot of people’s attention. People are excited to see that old classic Viper look again and I will be excited to sport the new Viper colors around The Glen.”

Along with the TUDOR, the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Porsche GT3-Cup USA, the Cooper Tires Prototype Challenge and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo will compete in separate races at The Glen this weekend.

Team Sahlen, featuring Elma’s Joe Sahlen, will compete in the No. 43 car in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Eric Lux of Williamsville will compete in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen Sunday in the Prototype Challenge class, co-driving with Sean Rayhill (Winston, Ga.) and Tom Kimber-Smith (United Kingdom) for 8Star Motorsports.