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Grand-Am: SAMAX proud of Daytona achievement.


Despite contending for victory until the closing moments of the 45th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the SAMAX team insists that it is happy with what its achieved with its small two-car effort in the Grand-Am season-opener.

The team's lead car, crewed by Patrick Carpentier, Milka Duno, Darren Manning and Ryan Dalziel, raced the #01 Chip Ganassi entry almost to the flag, having rallied from three laps at one point. Before sun up, it was in position to challenge for the lead, and only lost out on what would have been a surprise victory by just over a minute after 24 hours of racing.

To make the event all the sweeter for team owner Peter Baron, the sister #7 entry - with Tomas Enge, Chris Festa, Roger Yasukawa, Christian Montanari and Kris Szekeres sharing driving duties - came from last spot on the Daytona Prototype starting grid to claim sixth overall, bouncing back from a qualifying accident to claim the 'most improved position' award by climbing 22 places by the chequered flag..

"I'm really proud of the team, the drivers and everybody involved with both cars," Baron said, "The CITGO car ran perfect and there was only a minor mechanical gear problem on the #7 SAMAX car. No other team with multiple DP cars came close to what we have achieved over the last 24 hours."

Having started from fifth place, the #11 CITGO/SAMAX car finally found itself in the heat of the battle for first place as conditions at Daytona veered between wet and dry. Just as the sun was about to rise, the heavens opened, soaking the track and causing confusion. Carpentier and Manning led 24 of the next 35 laps, albeit mostly under caution, before the Briton engaged in a battle for the lead with Salvador Duran and Juan Montoya in the #01. While the Colombian opted for wets on a drying tack - and subsequently had to stop again for slicks - Manning changed to slick tyres first time around and retook the lead when his rival stopped a second time.

Both cars came back to the pits on lap 541, with Dalziel taking over from Manning while Montoya only took fuel and tires. The Ganassi car harried Dalziel, their battle allowing the recovering #10 SunTrust entry to join the fray, but the Scot held firm until handing on to Carpentier after a double-stint.

"This was a phenomenal race," Dalziel said, having resisted pressure for 35 laps,. "There was a lot of pressure put on me by my hero, Juan Pablo, but I blocked it out."

Carpentier kept the CITGO-backed car in the hunt during his stint, although the team opted to use a routine stop with an hour to go to check for damage after contact with a GT class Corvette. Happy that the red-and-white machine was intact, the team sent it back out, albeit now in third place and with the slightly early final stop requiring Carpentier to conserve fuel in order to make the finish without stopping again.

"It's a bit disappointing that I made contact with a GT car while trying to pass him near the end of the race," the Canadian admitted, "That forced me to pit earlier and then I could not mount a charge on the race leader because I had to save fuel. Up to that point, however, we had been very lucky, and this is SAMAX's best-ever result at the Daytona 24 Hours. Every driver on the team did well while they were on track.- it was a team effort and it's a great way to start the season."


Related Pictures

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Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. GRAND-AM Championship Weekend Presented by BMW at Lime Rock Park. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Max Angelelli / Jordan Taylor. Continental Tire Sports Car Festival. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 2013 Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series
Action. VisitFlorida.com Sports Car 250 at Road America. Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Starworks Motorsport BMW/Riley duo Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer celebrate their first Grand AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Road America [Pic credit: Grand AM]
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor drive the #10 Velocity Worldwide Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype (left) to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the third race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Alex Gurney and Jo Fogarty, drivers of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP (right) finish in second place. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
John Edwards and Robin Liddell, drivers of the # 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R., race to victory Saturday, April 6, 2013 in the Grand Touring (GT) class of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevrolet)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Memo Rojas, Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, co-drivers of the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates TELMEX/Target Ford BMW Riley celebrate their win in victory lane at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Rolex Series action [Pic credit: Grand-Am]
Alex Popow and Sebastian Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Ford Riley, celebrate in Victory Lane after wininng the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Alex Popow and Sebastien Bourdais, drivers of the #2 Soloson Ford Riley, celebrate after winning the Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2012, in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
The winning #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford Riley car is brought into victory lane after a gruelling 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona. [Picture Credit: Daytona International Speedway]
Action Express win the Rolex 24 [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Derek Johnston [Pic credit: Grand Am]
Vic Elford, the 2010 Rolex 24 At Daytona Grand Marshal (Photo credit: Motorsports Images and Archives)
The No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Porsche Coyote that will be tested by 2009 Radical European Masters Champion Derek Johnston at Virginia International Raceway
Max Angelelli and Brian Friselle win at Daytona [Pic credit: Grand Am Media]
Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty - GAINSCO Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Pontiac   [pic credit: Grand-Am]

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