The good news after Sunday's Grand-Am Rolex Series race at the US Sports Car Invitational at Laguna Seca was that the #10 SunTrust Racing team run by Wayne Taylor Racing had nine races remaining to overcome a five-point deficit in the championship standings.
The not-so-good news is that the team watched its eleven-point lead evaporate despite starting on the front row at the very track where Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen co-drove the SunTrust Racing Riley to victory a year ago.
Although Magnussen arrived overnight from American Le Mans duty, it was Angelelli who took the blame for the incident which prevented the #10 from holding on to its overall advantage after finishing 15th.
It was a deeply disappointed Italian who shouldered the responsibility after an off-course excursion coming out of turn nine on lap 32 left the SunTrust car with significant damage to the right-front, which required two laps in the pits under caution to repair. Even though the SunTrust crew made relative quick work of a not-so-small job – replacing the entire front splitter and nose piece – Angelelli resumed in 17th place, and the deficit proved difficult to overcome, despite Angelelli running some of the fastest laps once the race went back to green.
“I don't understand it, but I feel miserable – I messed it up, it's as simple as that,” he said, “I was pushing like everybody else. I was just coming out of the corner, I lost it and I went off. On a positive note, if that's possible on a day like today, the crew is absolutely great. They were fast in changing everything. They did a good job. They gave me a super-fast car again. So the good thing is I know I have the best team. When you have the best team, you need to win the championship. There are no excuses. The driver made a mistake today. We will go on to the next race and I will try not to do it again.”
Magnussen was prepared for a strong final sprint to the finish, having shown up at Laguna Seca for the first time on race morning after scoring a second-place ALMS finish at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday night, but, running on his own lap and still two down to the leaders, all the Dane was able to fight for was a top-15 finish.
“It was a tough weekend for the team,” Magnussen said, “We came in with the points lead and great expectations. I think it's tough, but it happens in racing. Now is the time for the whole team to show how strong they are when we come back for the next one.”
Team owner Taylor, just five races into his run in charge of the #10, also did his best to remain philosophical despite a first tough day at the office all season.
“It's obviously very disappointing,” he said, “We had a fast car and fast team as usual, but these things happen in racing. We are a good group. This is a good team. We just need to focus and get back, to try and get the [championship] lead back.
"I see no reason why we can't just regroup and go to the next race and get back into the lead. We've got good guys here. It's a good team. We just had a little bit of a bad day. It looks like it's down to us and Ganassi again, so it's all about points now.”