Daytona 24: SunTrust Racing early out report

SunTrust Team Forced to Retire From Rolex 24 At Daytona After Unavoidable Collision Daytona Beach, Florida (January 28, 2006) -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley officially retired from the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona after an unavoidable...

SunTrust Team Forced to Retire From Rolex 24 At Daytona After Unavoidable Collision

Daytona Beach, Florida (January 28, 2006) -- The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley officially retired from the 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona after an unavoidable collision on lap 125 caused extensive damage to the car.

Just four hours into the race the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley was struck hard by the careening No. 24 BMW M3. The BMW was sliding parallel to the SunTrust car, which was driven by Emmanuel Collard, and ran off-course, then skid back onto the track and cascaded into Collard's vehicle, causing major damage to the right front of the car.

"It was so quick I couldn't do anything and I had nowhere to go," said Collard, 2005 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner with teammates Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, who was uninjured in the accident. "I feel really bad for the team. It's a really tough start for the team, but I couldn't do anything. They put a lot into this race. It's the first race of the season and we're out, so now the team starts the season down."

The SunTrust team began the 44th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona from the 27th position (the result of a technical infraction in qualifying after Angelelli posted the second-quickest time), but Angelelli quickly shot to the front of pack. After Angelelli's initial burst, the team was a constant force amongst the race leaders, until the accident.

"We had a great team strategy and a really good run to make it to the head of the pack," said Angelelli, who won the 2005 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Driver and Team Championships with teammate Taylor. "Unfortunately, now it is over for us."

"It is really disappointing," said SunTrust car owner/driver Wayne Taylor, who led the race briefly before turning over the reigns to Collard. "This was an important race for us and it was a hard hit, but at least Manu is alright."

The SunTrust team is noted for the ability to preserve through the toughest of times, such as when the team completely rebuilt the car overnight after a fire nearly burned the No. 10 car to the ground during qualifying at Mid-Ohio last year. Unfortunately today the damage was too severe to repair.

"The suspension and frame damage would probably take four to six hours to fix, but unfortunately, we can't do it here," said Bill Riley, owner of chassis constructor Riley Technologies who spearheads the SunTrust Pontiac Riley race team. "If we fix it here we have the chance of overlooking some other potential problem caused by the crash, which could lead to another incident. Our concern was that there could be stressed parts or something hidden that could cause additional problems down the road, so we don't want to take the risk. It's by far the worst damaged Daytona Prototype I've ever seen."

The accident occurred only ten laps into Collard's stint as the third driver in rotation. The SunTrust team's fourth driver, Ryan Briscoe, never had an opportunity to race today.

"I am obviously extremely disappointed to not have a chance in the car," said Briscoe after the incident. "We had a winning car; the speed was there. Max did a great job to move the car from 27th to 2nd, and then Wayne did a great job to move into the first position.

"It's just a shame what happened to Manu because it wasn't his fault," Briscoe continued. "It was just bad luck out there and some amateur drivers on the track."

"This team has worked very hard and it's unfortunate the accident occurred," said Craig Kelly, Corporate Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "To us these guys are always a winner. It will only motivate them more for the next race in Mexico."

After the first six hours in one of the world's greatest endurance races, there were already 20 lead changes and eleven different cars held the lead.

The SunTrust team will pack up the damaged car to take it back to the shop in Indianapolis for repairs prior to the second round of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, March 4 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

-suntrustracing.com

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Wayne Taylor , Max Angelelli , Ryan Briscoe