Jan 28 (Reuters) - Portuguese drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa teamed up with Brazil’s Christian Fittipaldi to win the Rolex 24 Hours as twice Formula One champion Fernando Alonso’s car experienced frequent problems at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Albuquerque’s Action Express No. 5 team dominated the race as mechanical issues plagued competitors, including Alonso whose team finished 90 laps behind the winners in 13th place.
“Unfortunately we had too many issues that were out of our control,” said Alfonso who was making his debut in the 24-hour endurance race.
“Some unlucky situations, first of all with the puncture in the third or fourth stint.....We lost four laps with quite a lot of damage on the car.
“And after that we had a brake issue... and we lost 40 minutes. So that was the end of our race, probably. Then we had a throttle issue and then again a brake issue.”
Even the champions had their share of problems with Albuquerque, who drove the final portion of the race, unable to push hard out of fear of overheating.
Another Cadillac team with Mike Conway, Eric Curran, Felipe Nasr and Stuart Middleton took second.
Ninth place went to Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal with Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Dane Cameron taking 10th
The day was a special one for Chip Ganassi Racing, which posted its 200th career victory across four different motorsports disciplines, including NASCAR and IndyCar, to claim the GT Le Mans class. Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and Scott Dixon drove the winning car, taking the class victory over fellow Ganassi drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais. (Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)