Having won at many of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series rounds over the years, Max Angelelli and Jonathan Cochet are now bidding to add Mid-Ohio to SunTrust's lengthy list of achievements.
The scenic 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio circuit, nestled in the green, rolling countryside between Columbus and Cleveland, is one of only two tracks on the 2007 Rolex Series schedule that the SunTrust team has visited on multiple occasions but has yet to come away from with a victory.
The only other one is Mexico City's former Formula 1 circuit, the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, where the SunTrust team has scored a pair of podium finishes in three events at that track.
Though victory has been elusive in three previous visits to Mid-Ohio, the SunTrust Pontiac scored a moral victory, of sorts, with perhaps the most improbable podium finish in its relatively brief history during the 2005 EMCO Gears Classic. Having “burned to the ground” during Friday qualifying, in the words of team owner and three-time championship sports car racer Wayne Taylor, the SunTrust crew worked through the night to rebuild its racing machine in time to start from the back of the grid on Saturday.
Then, in truly methodical fashion, a determined Taylor and Angelelli worked their way toward the front of the field and took the checkered flag in third place. It helped maintain the team's hefty lead in the point standings en route to that years Rolex Series championship.
A repeat of that 2005 championship run continues to be the object of the SunTrust team's relentless focus in 2007. With Angelelli just seven points behind Scott Pruett in the driver standings and the SunTrust Pontiac 12 points behind Pruett's No. 01 Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry in the team standings, its goal is entirely within reach.
Angelelli, with his French co-driver Cochet joining him for only the second time this weekend, is more focused and motivated than ever to score his 11th career Rolex Series win at Mid-Ohio.
“This could be a great weekend for us if everything goes well (in practice and qualifying) on Friday. The last few race weekends, we struggled during practice and qualifying. All of a sudden, we were good on race day, especially at Virginia, where we got our first victory for Wayne Taylor Racing. We had a problem during the race at Laguna Seca that really hurt us in the points, and then we looked like we had the car to win the race at Watkins Glen before they penalized us two times.
“But we can't look back. We have to look ahead. At Mid-Ohio, we will have to perform better in practice than we have recently so we can build up the perfect car for qualifying and for the race. It will be very important to start on the front row at Mid-Ohio because the track is extremely narrow, and without the GT cars racing with us, I would not expect there to be very much passing on the race track.”