It took less than a minute from the start of Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen for Max Angelelli and the polesitting No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP team for Wayne Taylor Racing to find themselves in a deep, dark hole.
The problem turned out to be a broken shifter arm and shift linkage, and it took five laps for the crew to replace the necessary parts before Angelelli rejoined the race.
Six hours later, Angelelli, his co-driver Jordan Taylor and the Velocity Worldwide team took advantage of timely yellows and fought back to within one lap of the leaders and took the checkered flag with a satisfying but disappointing 10th-place finish.
Most importantly, the lead in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series standings Angelelli, Taylor and the team brought with them to Watkins Glen remained relatively intact as their closest pursuers in the championship through the first half of the season also encountered problems of one form or another during today’s six-hour race.
Angelelli and Taylor, who had a one-point lead over the No. 2 Starworks Ford Riley duo of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel, leave Watkins Glen tied for the points lead, but maintain the upper hand by virtue of their two wins this season while the Starworks duo, who finished eighth today, has yet to score a victory.
The No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing duo of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, who started the day in third place in the championship, two points behind Angelelli and Taylor, finished 14th today and are now five points out of the lead.
Meanwhile, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, who won today for the second time in as many events, crept to within four points of Angelelli and Taylor with five races to go.
“Well, after what happened on the first lap, there was not much we could do but to put our heads down and fight to the end,” said Angelelli, who drove the opening two-plus hours and the final hour and 40 minutes of today’s six-hour timed event. “We did the maximum we could do as a team.
The Velocity Worldwide team performed well, as usual – our strategy, our guys in the pits – and they got us back almost all the way to the lead lap. Unfortunately, we’re going to leave Watkins Glen with a little bit of a bad taste in our mouths. You know, this is GRAND-AM. This is a great championship.
It is very competitive and I expect it will be a fight to the very end of the season for this championship. I want to hand it to Jordan today. He did a wonderful job, especially in the rain on slicks. I was very happy to not be in the car at that time. He did a fantastic job and I’m very happy and proud of him.”
A brief but potent rain shower just as Taylor’s middle stint of the race was nearing its end made a mess of things and sent several cars off the track as drivers scrambled to make it to pit lane for a change to rain tires. Taylor did a stellar job of delivering the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP back to Angelelli for the final sprint to the finish.
Angelelli resumed in 11th place, just one lap down, and the team was counting on at least one more caution period before race’s end to give the veteran Italian a fighting chance at victory on the lead lap. But the yellow flag never waved again.
“My middle stint was alright,” the 22-year-old Taylor said. “We were five laps down to start with and we were just trying to get laps back, hoping for yellows at the right time. We had it four of the five times. We just didn’t get the last one. My stint was uneventful, I’d say.
Then it started raining at the end of it and I was on slicks. It got a little tricky. Four or five cars went off. We just had to keep it on the track and get it back to the pits. I handed it back over to Max and he did another great job. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the last yellow that we needed.”
Angelelli and Taylor were the first to finish off the lead lap. They had completed every lap of every race thus far this season prior to today.
“Well, we started off the day by going down five laps because of something that happened on the very first lap, and that is an incredible thing to try and get back, even in a six-hour race,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We managed to get almost back onto the lead lap at the end.
The two cars we’re racing for the championship had issues today, as well, but the 5 (Corvette DP of Fittipaldi and Barbosa) and a few of the other teams have closed the points gap right up. It’s going to be a battle all the way to the end this year. I’ve got to hand it to our guys. Max and Jordan and all the guys refused to get down and kept us going out there. It’s onward and upward from here.”
After a much-needed three weekends off, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series picks back up Friday, July 26, with the second annual Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The three-hour race is set for a 4 p.m. EDT start with SPEED providing same-day-delayed television coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Velocity Worldwide team