Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff drove to victory Saturday in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway, giving the Rolex Sports Car Series its third different winner in as many races and Sigalsport its first ever Daytona Prototype win.
Bill Auberlen and Matthew Alhadeff drove to victory Saturday in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway, giving the Rolex Sports Car Series its third different winner in as many races and Sigalsport its first ever Daytona Prototype win. In the early going, the pair looked like unlikely victors, as Alhadeff, who started 15th, was well behind the leaders when he handed the team's BMW Riley over to Auberlen during the race's second caution, on lap 22.
"It started off pretty bad for me because I got held up on the start when the No. 60 car slammed the brakes because there was about to be a crash," explained Alhadeff after his first professional race win. "I had to go way out of the way and I got 10 seconds behind right on the start. Then I just got stuck in traffic. It wasn't working out. And I was actually really frustrated when I got out of the car and gave the car over to Bill. It wasn't looking too good at that point."
But thanks to several more cautions and some deft driving, Auberlen was up to fourth by lap 65 - trailing only Ian James, Scott Pruett, and Max Angelelli. One lap later, Pruett tried to slip by James on the back stretch. Pruett managed to get alongside of James, but he ran out of room to complete the pass and had to lift off the gas to avoid hitting James. When he lifted, Angelelli and Auberlen sailed past Pruett's Lexus Riley. With Pruett relegated to third, Angelelli held the lead until lap 81, when Auberlen pounced right after the race's final caution flag, catching the Angelelli off guard and pulling away from him to take the victory by 1.759 seconds.
"What a way to go," said Auberlen. "I am really excited. It was fantastic. The thing with Max was that on the first few restarts I noticed that his car wasn't quite as good right after the yellow. So I took note of that and made a banzai move and he let me by. It was nice. I knew all weekend long that our car was pretty good. Our car was good in Mexico and in Daytona. It was just a matter of biding my time. I talked about it with Matt and Rick, our engineer, and I said that I was going to let a lot of things take care of themselves. And they did."
"It's really hard to talk right now because I am so excited," added Alhadeff. "This is the first time I have ever won a professional race in my life. To do it in front of my whole family is great. It's amazing."
The SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Angelelli and teammate Jan Magnussen ended up second, giving them three podium finishes this season. "It was a close a race," said Angelelli. "Bill made a fantastic move. He really surprised me. When I saw him next to me I couldn't believe it. If I had seen him, I would have closed the door for sure. But I knew he was really strong in the two laps after the pace car, and I was waiting. But as I said, he closed up behind my car and I couldn't see him in my mirrors."
Finishing third was Pruett and Memo Rojas in their Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. "It was hard core, fightin', bangin' scrappin' on each other, fun racing. It really was. We were going at it the whole time. It's exciting to see a new winner. I know they've been working hard and they got to victory lane in fine style."
Patrick Carpentier and Milka Duno in the SAMAX Motorsports Pontiac Riley and Hurley Haywood and J.C. France in the Brumos Porsche Riley rounded out the top-five in the Daytona Prototype class.
For the second consecutive race the GT class win went to Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Andy Lally and R.J. Valentine wound up second in the No. 66 Racer's Group Porsche, followed by the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner.
The 91-lap race featured seven cautions for 36 laps and five lead changes among five drivers.