Photo: VISIT FLORIDA Racing

Sports cars: AXR, Visit Florida, Corvette, DTM notes and more

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bunch of sports car news has come out here recently in the last few days, with most of it this mroning so we’re going to round it all up below:

  • Action Express Racing has confirmed its extra drivers for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Filipe Albuquerque, the talented Portuguese driver, will share the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. It’s his fifth straight Rolex 24 start; he won Rolex GT in 2013 and then has raced in GTD, PC and P since. In the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox entry, Mike Conway will make his Rolex 24 debut with Sunoco Challenge winner Seb Morris, with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship champions Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.
  • Lest this be the only DPi team with news, Wayne Taylor Racing with Konica-Minolta is the first to show its Cadillac in livery. Here’s the link to that.
  • Corvette Racing will keep Mike Rockenfeller and Marcel Fassler as third drivers for its pair of Corvette C7.Rs at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Rockenfeller was in the No. 3 car, Fassler the No. 4 car last year.
  • Park Place Motorsports has confirmed a full-season return to IMSA’s GTD class. Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey will run all races in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R with Matt McMurry the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
  • Tequila Patron ESM has revealed car numbers and lineups for its Ligier JS P217 Nissan lineup. Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp will be in the team’s No. 2 car with Pipo Derani back for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek will be in the No. 22 car with Bruno Senna for the TPNAEC and Brendon Hartley at Daytona. More here from them.
  • VISIT FLORIDA Racing has taken delivery of its Riley Technologies Mk. 30 Gibson LMP2 car, with a shakedown at Carolina Motorsports Park prior to a full test this week at Daytona.
  • BMW Team RLL’s lineup will feature Alexander Sims and Martin Tomczyk as new full-season drivers in the pair of BMW M6 GTLM alongside Bill Auberlen and John Edwards, respectively. Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler are alongside Auberlen and Sims, with Kuno Wittmer and Nicky Catsburg in the second BMW alongside Edwards and Tomczyk.
  • Audi and BMW DTM lineups are out. Audi’s are Loic Duval and Rene Rast as new full-season additions, continuing with Mattias Ekström, Jamie Green, Nico Müller, and Mike Rockenfeller. For BMW, it’s Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus, Tom Blomqvist, Maxime Martin and Bruno Spengler. Edoardo Mortara has left Audi to join Mercedes-Benz, but the rest of Mercedes’ lineup will be revealed at a later date.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994