A pair of late-race passes played a major role in the outcome of Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Diamond Cellar Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, for entirely different reasons.
Joao Barbosa gave Action Express Racing its first Daytona Prototype victory of the season, passing Spirit of Daytona driver Richard Westbrook with 29 minutes remaining. Co-driving the No. 5 Corvette DP with Christian Fittipaldi, Barbosa made slight contact while making his pass on Westbrook in Turn 2 and went on to the lead the final 22 laps of the race.
“Just racing here is intense,” Barbosa said. “It was really hard racing, but I was able to judge traffic a little bit better and get a run on him. I knew I was a little bit faster. I was just being a little bit patient, but I had to be careful with the guys behind me, as well. As soon as I saw a small window to go for the lead, I did that. After that, I was able to pull a good gap and control the race a little bit.”
Meanwhile, contact for the Grand Touring (GT) lead with two laps remaining resulted in a penalty that gave Bill Auberlen and co-driver Paul Dalla Lana their second consecutive race win at Mid-Ohio in the No. 94 BMW M3.
Marsh Racing driver Eric Curran crossed the stripe first in the No. 31 Chevrolet Corvette but was penalized one minute and 24 seconds for avoidable contact. Curran and co-driver Boris Said finished fourth after the penalty.
“The series did the right thing by straightening it out,” Auberlen said. “We were faster in the straight and Eric was much quicker in the corner. All lines were off; I just kept taking the inside. If all you have to do is beat someone off the track with one or two laps to go, that’s a lot easier.”
Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long took GX class honors in the No. 70 MAZDASPEED/Mazda/Castrol Mazda6 GX, picking up the third consecutive win for MAZDASPEED/Speedsource, but the first for the Tremblay and Long.
Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli maintained their lead in DP points for Wayne Taylor Racing with a sixth-place finish in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba/Chevrolet Corvette DP. They now hold a one-point advantage over the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance team of Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney. Ryan Dalziel and co-driver Alex Popow raced from a sixth-place starting position to finish third in the No. 2 Starworks with Alex Popow Ford/Riley and are now third in points, just two out of first.
John Potter and Andy Lally took over the GT points lead with a second-place finish in the No. 44 Flex-Box Porsche GT3 for Magnus Racing. No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 driver Alessandro Balzan is second, three points back (169-166).
The next Rolex Series race will be June 30 at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, live on SPEED at 11 a.m.