The future of the #5 Action Express Mustang Sampling-backed Cadillac DPi-V.R. remains uncertain as the team attempts to secure the financial backing needed for its DPi to run next season. Action Express Racing is one of several IMSA teams in the process of nailing down its future, and with such a short offseason, the pressure to get deals done in time is escalated.
The #5 effort is a two-time winner of the IMSA Championship, and four-time winner of the North American Endurance Cup.
Half of the Action Express Racing stable, the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani, have inked their deal for next season with the third driver for the endurance races expected to be announced soon. However, the team now says that it is likely to have to scale back its effort to just one car for the full season.
Christian Fittipaldi, who despite his retirement remains active in the programme, was hesitant to characterise his level of confidence. He agreed to the suggestion that the team was taking an approach of “cautious optimism” towards the future.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” Fittipaldi said. Adding that “I could come up to you and say ‘yeah, it’s 100%’, but cautious optimism.’”
“There are plans and we continue to look forward and the only thing is is that the plans aren’t finalised at this point,” Fittipaldi said. “The whole #31 car managed to finalise their plans a little bit earlier. But we’re definitely looking forward to the 2020 season,” he added.
Joao Barbosa — who drives the #5 Cadillac alongside Filipe Alberquerque — noted that because the IMSA season begins with Daytona and Sebring, the budgetary strain for a programme is front-loaded in the first half of the year.
“We start with the two biggest races of the year, which are the two most expensive ones. So we need to have all the financial details all set and ready to go racing,” Barbosa said.
“It’s definitely a challenging moment, the team is still trying to put the budget together to go racing next year. They’re still working very hard on it. But as of yet, they can’t confirm or deny anything. They’re still working with a few sponsors to make up the full budget for next year,” Barbosa said.
Bob Johnson, team principal of Action Express Racing, said the team is actively working on 2020 plans for the #5 car, “but the 2020 sponsorship package is not yet complete.”
“Action Express racing has fielded two cars in every event since 2011,” he added in a team statement today. “Beginning in 2020, it is likely that Action Express will become a single car team. We have worked for many months to find ways to remain a two car team. To be fair to all involved, we must report that the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac will probably be the single entry as managed by Action Express Racing in 2020.
“We want to thank all of our fans and every one of our great drivers, partners and crew members that have supported our two car team along the way.”
The potential loss of the #5 Cadillac is another blow to IMSA’s DPi class, which is likely to shrink next year with CORE autosports’ Nissan programme ending at the end of this season and Juncos Racing’s future uncertain.
On-track activity for Petit Le Mans begins on Thursday, with practice at 10:50 a.m., 2:50 p.m., and a 90-minute night session starting at 7:30 p.m. (all times ET). Friday includes final practice at 11:15 a.m., with a 15-minute DPi qualifying session at 4:45 p.m.
The 22nd Motul Petit Le Mans takes the green flag at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday.
The 2020 Roar Before the 24 is scheduled for January 3 – 5, just 12 weeks after the conclusion of Petit Le Mans.