Grand AM » 31 July 2005
SunTrust takes third win at Grand-Am Porsche 250.
Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli kicked off the second half of the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series season the same way they opened the first half, taking the #10 SunTrust Riley-Pontiac to its third victory of the season in the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park.
After running as low as 14th at one point in the race after adopting a different pit strategy, the Taylor and Angelelli patiently worked themselves back into position to challenge for victory. The Italian led 14 laps early in the race before handing the car over to Taylor, and the returned to drive the final stint on lap 51 of 95. Angelelli carved his way through the field to be lying in second place by lap 78, and then kept the pressure on race-leader Christian Fittipaldi's #66 Krohn Racing/TRG Riley-Pontiac.
The SunTrust car pulled alongside in turn five on lap 88, but was unable to close the deal and Fittipaldi began to re-establish his advantage, looking set to take the victory he was denied last season. However, with three laps remaining, the Brazilian had to pull onto pit-lane for a late splash of fuel, surrendering the race to Angelelli and Taylor. Angelelli was not challenged in the final three laps, beating Memo Gidley's #19 Finlay Riley-BMW to the line by 18.585secs.
“I had a feeling he was pulling away from me on the straights and going up on the corners, so there was either one of two things – more horsepower, which was not the case, or a lighter car,” Angelelli said of Fittipaldi, “I was expecting him to pit for fuel.
"I was worried because I know how difficult it is to overtake here - you really need to take huge risks every time. The car in front needs to understand that it is not the end of the world to lose a position, but some drivers really don't get it. They don't care and they don't want to lose a position - and that really ticked me off. I was more worried about myself.”
It was the first victory for Angelelli and Taylor since they opened the season with back-to-back wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead, but enabled them to extend the lead they share in the Daytona Prototype driver standings, the crew now 14 points ahead of defending champion Scott Pruett and his #01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi co-driver Luis Diaz.
“We put a lot of stress on ourselves with this race, as it's really important for us to win the championship,” Taylor admitted, “You've just got to stick to your plan and wait until the end of the year. There's no point and resting on any laurels, because 99 times out of 100, you get caught out. We have to approach every race the same way, and we did that coming here.”
After three-consecutive fourth-place finishes, Gidley and co-driver Michael McDowell posted new best results with second place. Gidley led for eight laps in the middle of the race, as the #19 used a similar strategy to the #10. However, while Angelelli was unfettered in his drive to the chequered flag, Gidley had his hands full in keeping Kenny Wilden's #6 Mears Motor Coach Riley-Pontiac in his mirrors.
“The car was really good in the first part of the race, with fuel consumption and tyre wear all well within the plan,” Gidley said, “We knew that, if we could stay out of trouble and bring the car home, that we had the car to finish on the podium - and maybe even win.
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