TUSC: Action Express tops in opening test at Sebring

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The weekend was a big one for Formula One and NASCAR, but it was also important for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, which staged its first open test of the winter at Sebring International Raceway. Topping the overall charts on both days of the test was the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (pictured, from this past August at Road America).

On Saturday, Joao Barbosa led the way with an unofficial time of 1 minute, 53.266 seconds (118.871 miles per hour), and then on Sunday, IndyCar pilot Sebastien Bourdais took the No. 5 to P1 on the charts with a 1 minute, 53.748-second blitz (118.367 mph) around the famous Florida road course.

Both Barbosa and Bourdais were impressed with the newly modified Daytona Prototypes, which now feature bits such as a new diffuser, carbon brakes and a double-element rear wing.

“We were just bottoming out a little bit on the bumps in the first few laps, but we addressed that and the car felt really great,” Barbosa said to IMSA.com. “For the first few laps we have around here with carbon brakes, new aero and all the new stuff, it felt really good.”

“It’s a quicker car,” chimed in Bourdais. “I think we’ll gain about three seconds at Daytona. If we balance it, maybe there’s a bit more in it. The rear diffuser really helps set the back of the car down. These cars didn’t have much downforce before, but they have significantly more now.”

In all, over 2,800 laps and 10,000 miles were run in the two-day session at Sebring. Now, the TUSC heads to Daytona International Speedway for another two days of testing starting tomorrow.

The TUSC officially begins its inaugural season at Daytona with the Rolex 24 on Jan. 23-26, 2014.

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”