Cadillac drivers proud of titles despite Petit Le Mans disappointment

Although Petit Le Mans victory eluded them drivers of the three Cadillac DPi-V.Rs said they were satisfied with the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as a whole, having scooped several titles.

Cadillac drivers proud of titles despite Petit Le Mans disappointment
#5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi
#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Eric Curran, Dane Cameron, Mike Conway
#5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albuquerque
#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi: Eric Curran, Dane Cameron, Mike Conway
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi: Jordan Taylor
Eric Curran, Mike Conway, Action Express Racing
Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Action Express Racing

Cadillac won the manufacturers' championship and the Tequila Patron North American Endurance [TPNAEC] "championship within a championship" for the four endurance rounds – Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, Sebring 12 Hours, Watkins Glen Six Hours and Petit Le Mans.

Ricky and Jordan Taylor earned the drivers’ title after winning the first five races of the year, while their Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing team, run by father Wayne Taylor, scooped teams’ title.

Action Express Racing’s Mustang Sampling drivers Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque earned the TPNAEC driver championship and the TPNAEC team championship, and Barbosa and Fittipaldi finished third in the overall drivers’ championship behind teammates Dane Cameron and Eric Curran in the #31 Whelen Engineering car. Between them the three Cadillacs won seven of the Prototypes’ 10 rounds.

"We are happy to win the championship," Ricky Taylor said.  "The team and car have run flawlessly all year. It's too bad to have an issue at Petit when we were fighting for the TPNAEC title.

“The team did a great job all year, everyone at Cadillac, Dallara and our sponsors at Konica Minolta all have a hand this championship. The five wins to start the season was great and especially winning the Rolex 24 and Sebring - the stuff all drivers dream about. To win it with my dad, Jordan and Max [Angelelli], who is also family, is really a dream season."

Fittipaldi, who will next year switch from Action Express Racing’s fulltime lineup to become its ‘third man’ for endurance races, handing over to current third man Filipe Albuquerque, said he was thrilled to help earn the AXR #5 team a fourth straight TPNAEC title.

"It is a huge accomplishment and it came from a massive effort from the whole team. For the drivers to make sure they keep it on the black stuff, and obviously for the team and all the preparation-it boils down to Action Express doing an awesome job. If the car doesn't finish, we don't get points so we would never be in this position.

“We had the focus to have fast and consistent cars with the Corvette [previous prototype model] and then with the Cadillac.  We are happy to win this TPNAEC this year and hats off to the #10 [WTR] guys on their overall IMSA championship as well. They did a great job, particularly at the first half of the season. 

“We will regroup and learn from our mistakes, emphasize what we did well and then come back to be even stronger in 2018."

Albuquerque admitted he was baffled by IMSA’s decision to penalize him with a stop-’n’-hold penalty in the last half hour of Petit Le Mans, for taking unjustifiable risk on the final restart. The incident involved squeezing teammate Cameron toward the grass and the penalty cost the #5 team a strong chance of challenging for victory.

Albuquerque commented "It was disappointing in the end. We won the TPNAEC title in the middle of the race and then we were going for the win. In the end, it was very wild.

“On that restart, I drove hard, we were banging wheels all the way to the last corner, mixed in with a lot of GT cars. I don't think I drove different than any other lap. I don't understand the penalty. In the end, we go home with the endurance championship which is good for the team."

Cameron, who finished as runner-up in championship and race  – and by half a second held off Juan Pablo Montoya whom he joins in the Penske-Acura next year – said: “That was one of the toughest Petit Le Mans races I have run. The tire degradation was huge today so that made the car, at times, a handful to drive.

“The team made great pit stops. Mike [Conway] and Eric [Curran] did a great job, especially Eric who put in a lot of time behind the wheel today. Happy to take second, and second in the championship is a great way to close out the season."

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