Daytona 24: Pontiac race report

Pontiac Takes 1-2-3 Victory at the Daytona 24 Angelelli, Taylor and Collard win, set fastest lap DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Pontiac captured a remarkable overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona on Sunday, the division's second straight win at ...

Pontiac Takes 1-2-3 Victory at the Daytona 24
Angelelli, Taylor and Collard win, set fastest lap

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Pontiac captured a remarkable overall victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona on Sunday, the division's second straight win at the legendary endurance event. The #10 Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Emmanuel Collard took the victory with an 11-lap margin over the rest of the field. Pontiac-powered race cars ran 1-2-3 across the finish line.

"Today's victory at Daytona is a great achievement for Pontiac," said Steve Sitek, brand promotional manager for Pontiac. "We found out how difficult it was to win this race last year and to come back and finish with an all- Pontiac podium is an unbelievable realization of our goals. Our ultimate goal is to make Pontiac power the standard to beat in this series, and we've made a big statement today."

After starting from the second position, Pontiac took its first lead at lap 17, when Andy Wallace put the #20 car ahead. While leads changed frequently, Pontiac race cars had a grip on the 64-car field, leading 608 of the 710 laps. While this year's race remained relatively dry, attrition played a role in removing some cars from the field throughout the night. Two Pontiac prototypes ran within seconds of each other during the morning hours, but when the #20 Pontiac Crawford had problems with its gearbox, the #10 Pontiac Riley took the lead with a 12 lap advantage over the second place car. The yellow and black Pontiac held the lead for the remainder of the race and arrived in pit lane with all of its crew members piled on for the celebration.

"I've been driving with Wayne and Emmanuel since 1999," said Max Angelelli, who drove the #10 car across the finish line. "We've all worked together and know each other very well. This is why we wanted to maintain this driver lineup. And for a 24-hour race you have to know each other very well and know each other's strong points and weaknesses. I think that is why we had this success. It was a really hard race but we are so thankful for the victory."

A first place finish for the #20 Pontiac Crawford looked promising as the car battled for the lead throughout much of the morning but slipped away as mechanical problems sidelined the car for 25 minutes. Andy Wallace faced similar issues during last year's Rolex 24, where his car relinquished his lead with 17 minutes left in the race.

"There was a hole in the gearbox," said Wallace, referring to this year's difficulties. "It lost second gear-it started to act up and got worse every time I pushed the lever and went through the gears. When I hit second at one point, it let go and punched a hole in the casing. I thought it was over, but the team switched the unit and next thing I knew, there was Jan (Lammers) driving down the pit lane in the car."

After returning to the track, Lammers pushed the car hard, and his efforts paid off. The #20 Pontiac Crawford finished in third place behind the #4 Pontiac Crawford of Leitzinger, Forbes-Robinson and Johnson.

"At about three in the morning we had problems with a header and an axle so we lost about 13 laps," said Butch Leitzinger. "At that point, as competitive as the race was, I figured if we could still get a top ten finish out of this we would be really lucky. We just kept pressing on, and finally other cars started to give up. Ours didn't, so we were able to claw our way back up to second."

The historic second straight overall victory for Pontiac is also GM's fifth overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons won the 1969 event in a Chevrolet-powered Lola T70 prototype; Wayne Taylor, Scott Sharp and Jim Pace won in 1996 in an Oldsmobile-powered Riley & Scott prototype; Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Chris Kneifel and Franck Freon won the race in 2001 behind the wheel of the factory Corvette C5-R and 2004 saw Pontiac's first overall win with the #54 Pontiac Doran of Terry Borcheller, Andy Pilgrim, Forest Barber and Christian Fittipaldi.

The 2005 Rolex Series season continues at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 5.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , Chris Kneifel , Scott Sharp , Christian Fittipaldi , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Emmanuel Collard , Wayne Taylor , Max Angelelli , Jim Pace , Forest Barber , Mark Donohue