Grand Am DP - SunTrust Duo Looks For Third Straight Lime Rock Win
LAKEVILLE, Sep. 27, 2012: It’s a rare treat in the ever-competitive world of sports car racing – or most any other part of life, for that matter – to be able to use the word “perfection.”
But it’s the only way to describe the SunTrust Racing duo of Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor and their past performance in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition in the quaint, New England setting of Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.The veteran Italian Angelelli and his 23-year-old co-driver Taylor have certainly rocked it in the Rolex Series’ last two visits to the 1.53-mile, seven-turn road circuit tucked neatly beneath the green, rolling hills of northwest Connecticut. Front-row starts in both the 2010 and 2011 events that were held on Memorial Day, including from the pole last season. The race high in laps led during both events totaling 248 of 357 laps (69.5 percent) at the point. And, best of all, a pair of dominating victories.
Yes, Angelelli and Taylor have grown quite fond of beautiful Lime Rock Park, and they’ll try to make it a perfect three-for-three when they return for Saturday’s 2-hour, 45-minute Rolex Series season finale.
Another victory would not only make it three in a row at Lime Rock for the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette Dallara DP team of Wayne Taylor Racing, it would be the third for Angelelli and Taylor during this otherwise most difficult season to go with their wins last spring at Homestead-Miami Speedway and New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville.
This weekend’s festivities at Lime Rock are billed Championship Weekend but, for only the second time in the nine seasons since SunTrust joined the Rolex Series in 2004, the championship is out of reach even before the green flag falls on Saturday’s 2012 finale. For, offsetting the team’s two victories and six top-five finishes in all this year are an uncharacteristic five DNFs (did not finish) – including a mind-blowing four in a row midway through the season – that have led to an insurmountable 47-point deficit to the points-leading duo of two-time-defending series champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley. Even second place in the standings, where Angelelli and Taylor finished each of the past two seasons, is an unreachable 34 points away as the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Ford Riley of Ryan Dalziel and various co-drivers this season has all but sewn up that spot for 2012.
Just once in the previous eight seasons has the SunTrust team finished outside the top-three in the final standings – thanks in large part to a catastrophic transporter fire that destroyed the team’s primary racecar and pit equipment midway through 2008, when they finished sixth. Third place is 12 points away entering this weekend for Angelelli and Taylor, but there are seven other teams also fighting for the position currently held by the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Terry Borcheller, David Donohue and Brian Frisselle. So, even if they do make it a perfect three-for-three at Lime Rock, Angelelli and Taylor need help to secure another top-three finish in the final standings.
No matter the points possibilities, the simple fact of the matter for Angelelli and Taylor is, it’s time to try and stay perfect at Lime Rock.
Practice for Saturday’s 2-hour, 45-minute Championship Weekend season finale at Lime Rock begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 9:30 a.m. EDT Saturday. Race time Saturday is 3 p.m. with live television on SPEED and live radio by the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Channel 117 beginning with pre-race festivities at 2:45 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com, and on mobile devices at m.grand-am.com/laptrax.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
You’re down to the last race of the season this weekend at Lime Rock. What’s on your mind as you close out the 2012 season, which has been probably the most challenging for you and the SunTrust team since you joined the Rolex Series in 2004?
“Well, we are going to Lime Rock where we have never lost. That sounds very, very good and we know it would be the best possible way to end the season – any season – by winning the very last race. It gives everybody something to remember that is fresh on their minds all through the winter and to the first race next season. It is very motivating and very uplifting. Now, we have never lost at Lime Rock, but we also need to keep in mind the reality that we had some external help both years. We had some really, really good strategy and our racecar was very, very fast. But we also lost the Ganassi car and the Gainsco car both years, which made things a little easier for us. But our guys did an excellent job giving us a fast racecar both years, we had excellent strategy during the race, the drivers stayed out of trouble, and we were rewarded with the first-place trophy. It makes it nice to go back to Lime Rock this weekend to finish the season.”
For only the second time in the nine seasons you and the SunTrust team have competed in the Rolex Series, the championship is out of reach even before you take the green flag for the season finale. How does that affect your approach this weekend?
“Well, first of all, it’s a very strange feeling because this SunTrust team has always been all about fighting for the championship until the very end and that opportunity is not available to us this weekend. Yes, it has been our most difficult season as far as the things that have happened to us this season on the racetrack. But there are many positives that we still have accomplished this season – our pole positions at New Jersey and Watkins Glen, our wins at Homestead and New Jersey – and we must take that positive momentum and do everything possible to finish this season with a win. If not a win, a strong podium finish this weekend would be a great way to end the season. We have won two races in a row at Lime Rock. Why not three?”
Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
What is your outlook as you head to Lime Rock this weekend to wrap up what has been a rather trying season in 2012?
“I’m always excited to get back to the racetrack for an event weekend. But, for the most part, everybody’s kind of happy to get this year done with because it’s been such a huge struggle. I’m really looking forward to the weekend, though, and also really looking forward to next year. It’s going to be a transitional year as we move toward 2014 when GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series will be merged. We’re two-for-two at Lime Rock the last two seasons, so it sounds like this weekend the pressure will be on us to keep that going. But, coming off a race where we struggled so badly at Laguna Seca, I would say our confidence isn’t as high as it could be. That’s the reality of it. But we do have a perfect record at Lime Rock and we’ll hope to make it three-for-three. We got a bit of a break both times we won there in 2010 and 2011. The Ganassi car went out early both times. But I also think we were strong enough and our car was good enough that we were good enough to win no matter who else was out there. The championship is out of reach this year, so that pressure isn’t on our shoulders. We’ll just go out there, do what we know how to do, hope for the very best, and have some fun in the process.”Just a few weeks after you wrap up this Rolex Series season, you will be down in Surfers Paradise, Australia, competing for Garry Rogers Motorsports as teammate to the IZOD IndyCar Series’ James Hinchcliffe in the Australian V8 Supercars event. How special is that for you?
“It’s very, very cool. What a treat it will be. I’ve never been to that event but I’ve heard so many incredible things about it over the years. It’s a street race along the beach down there and everyone says it’s just beautiful. Having been a regular in GRAND-AM for several years, now, I love it, of course. But it’s also nice to go off somewhere else and, as a driver, see how you measure up with the guys from other series. The Gold Coast 600 is like an all-star race and I’ll get to drive against a lot of my heroes from other series, like Will Power and Ryan Briscoe from IndyCar, Nick Heidfeld and Mika Salo from F1. Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal will be there. Guys from all over the world. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a really neat experience. I hope to represent GRAND-AM well.”
Wayne Taylor, team owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Corvette Dallara DP:
Your overall thoughts about closing out the season at Lime Rock this weekend?
“Well, it’s pretty nice to say we’re going to a track where we’ve never lost, and that certainly bodes well for our final weekend of the year. But, in light of all that has happened to us this year, it’s been a rather trying experience for everybody and, despite our record at Lime Rock, you just never know what to expect. I’d like to think we can go out and start on the pole and win the race like we did last year. Of all the racetracks we’ve done well at in recent years, Lime Rock has stood out above the rest. If we can do this weekend what we did there the last couple of seasons, that will give us some incredible momentum as we move forward from there. It would give us something very positive to carry us through the offseason and into next season.”