Tristan Vautier will join Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in Action Express Racing’s #5 car for this weekend’s Petit Le Mans, as fulltime driver Joao Barbosa is still recovering from a rib injury.
Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title-winner Barbosa incurred the injury in a startline incident at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and has been advised by doctors to not participate in this weekend’s 10-hour season finale.
Although the shunt saw AXR’s Mustang Sampling entry drop from second to sixth in the points standings, it remains in strong contention for the Tequila Patron North America Endurance Cup which covers the four endurance events – the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Sebring 12 Hours, Watkins Glen Six Hours and Petit Le Mans.
Vautier, who raced for Spirit of Daytona Racing at the start of the year and took pole at Sebring stated: “I feel badly for Joao, so this is a tough circumstance to be having this opportunity and I hope he recovers as quickly as possible.
“I am grateful to Troy [Flis, Spirit of Daytona Racing team owner] for letting me do this, and also to the Mustang Sampling team for trusting me for this role because it is a big responsibility with the Endurance Cup still to fight for. Hopefully the experience I have in the Cadillac Prototype will help us get the result that we are looking for.”
Barbosa himself said: “I’m sad that I have to miss this race. This has been a tough year for me after a great start with our wins at Daytona and Long Beach. In my career, I never had to miss any races during a season, and this year I’m missing three because of injuries.
“But I think the team can do well this weekend with the Mustang Sampling car – no matter what we’ve raced, this track has always suited our team so there is a lot of confidence for the weekend.
“Tristian will be a great fit with the experience that he already has in the Cadillac Prototype.”
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