Joao Barbosa is a Portuguese racing driver who is best-known as one of the longest serving and most successful drivers in the US endurance racing series. He was the IMSA SportsCar Championship winner in 2014 and 2015, together with Christian Fittipaldi. Barbosa has won three times at Daytona 24 Hours, in 2010, 2014 and 2018.
Departure to the US after winning the Formula Ford title
He was born on March 11, 1975 in Porto, the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Joao began racing kart as a boy and in 1988 and 1989 he won the national championships. After graduating in karting, Barbosa began racing open-wheelers and again was successful. He won the Portuguese Formula Ford Championship in 1994, while in the following year he was the Italian Formula Alfa Boxster champion.
The stream of good results continued in 1996 when he was Italian Formula 3 vice-champion. In 1997, Portuguese driver moved to the USA and competed in the Formula Atlantic where he finished 7th in the standings.
Switch to sports cars racing
In 1999 Barbosa competed in the short-lived United States Road Racing Championship. Driving for Mosler Automotive alongside Stephane Roy and Loic Depailler, he won the GT2 class in the race at Lime Rock Park what was a good beginning of the new chapter in his career.
Driving a Perspective Racing's Mosler MT900R
Until 2003, he competed with a considerable success in the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Driving a Perspective Racing’s Mosler alongside Jerome Policand, Michele Neugarten, and Andy Wallace, Barbosa scored a GTS class win in Daytona 24 hours. He also raced in some famous endurance events in Europe, scoring the class win at in the 1000 km of Spa, driving a Rollcentre Racing’s Mosler-Chevrolet alongside the British drivers Martin Short and Tom Herridge.
Racing on both sides of the Atlantic
From 2004 to 2009 Barbosa shared his duties between Brumos Racing and Rollcentre Racing, driving in the American Le Mans Series, Rolex Sports Car Series, European Le Mans Series, Grand-Am Series, and FIA GT Championship.
Joao Barbosa at Le Mans 24h with Krohn Racing
The results were good after Portuguese driver almost regularly was in top 5, but barely could to score a victory. The highlights from that period are the 4th place at Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007 when he was driving Rollcentre Racing’s Pescarolo 01-Judd alongside Stuart Hall and Martin Short, as well as the same position in 2007 Daytona 24 Hours when he was sharing the seat of Brumos’ Porsche with JC France, Hurley Haywood, and Roberto Moreno.
Two years later he was 3rd in Daytona 24 Hours, driving alongside France, Haywood, and Terry Borcheller. The highlight of the year probably was a victory in Rolex Sports Car Series race at Homestead.
Signing with Action Express Racing and maiden win at Daytona
Since 2010 Joao Barbosa is a driver of Action Express Racing, one of the best US racing teams. The beginning with a new team was like a dream come true after Portuguese won 24 Hours of Daytona, driving a Riley-Porsche alongside Mike Rockenfeller, Terry Borcheller, and Ryan Dalziel. Over the years, he continued to compete in the ALMS and Rolex Sports Car Series before merging of two championships in 2014.
Celebrating a victory at 2010 Daytona 24h
In 2011, he was 3rd in the LMP2 class and 10th overall in Le Mans 24 Hours, driving for Level 5 Motorsports alongside the team owner Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut. He had other two appearances at Le Mans in 2015 and 2016, driving for Krohn Racing, but on both occasions, they were out of top 10 in the LMP2 class.
Joao Barbosa scores another triumph at Daytona
Barbosa had better results whilst racing in the US. In 2011 Barbosa was 3rd at Daytona, while in the Grand-Am Series, Joao won the races at Detroit and Watkins Glen in 2012, and also ALMS P2 class in 12 Hours of Sebring.
Joao Barbosa pilots the #5 Action Express Coyote-Corvette Daytona Prototype across the finish line to win the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Since 2013 Portuguese driver was teamed with the Brazilian driver Christian Fittipaldi and the two drivers immediately became one of the best pairings in the series. In 2014, driving the AER’s Coyote Corvette Daytona Prototype, they triumphed at Daytona, with Sebastien Bourdais as a third driver. The same trio finished 2nd in the following year, narrowly losing to Chip Ganassi Racing.
Two titles in a row
The seasons of 2014 and 2015 definitely were the best in Joao’s career so far. He won the title in the IMSA SportsCar WeatherTech Championship with Fittipaldi. In addition to the victory at Daytona, en route to the title they also triumphed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America.
Sebastien Bourdais, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa
Barbosa and Fittipaldi defended their crown in 2015. After finishing 2nd at Daytona, they won at Sebring and Petit Le Mans, later in the season they scored other three podiums and for the second year in a row were crowned as the champions.
In 2016, they were just four points short of winning another title in the series. Their only win was at Watkins Glen but only twice missed to score a podium finish. However, they finished the season as a vice-champions. In 2017, again with Fittipaldi as his teammate, Barbosa finished third in the Prototype class standings.
In 2018, Barbosa opened a season with a victory at Rolex 24 at Daytona. It's his third win at Daytona endurance classic. Later in the season, he won one more time, at Long Beach. He didn't race full season with AX Racing, finishing 18th in the points.