It comes down to the final race

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Season finale will determine the Rolex Series champions

The leaders in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series can’t rest on their laurels as anything can happen at Lime Rock.

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP: Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP: Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor

Photo by: Jeff Davidson

The advantages are solid – but not necessarily comfortable – as three championship leaders head for the Sept. 28 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season finale at Lime Rock Park.

Wayne Taylor Racing's Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor, having beaten the defending DP champions in consecutive starts, are eight points up on Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates' Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Ganassi, however, holds an 11-point advantage over WTR for the team title.

Andy Lally and John Potter finally made it to the top tier of the podium at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, giving the Magnus Racing pair a similar, eight-point lead over Scuderia Corsa's Alessandro Balzan.

Dr. Jim Norman, who hasn't finished below second place in the GX category, is 11 points ahead of Joel Miller.

Anything can happen at Lime Rock – a tight, 1.5-mile, seven-turn layout.

"In GRAND-AM, nothing is safe until we see the checkered flag," said Angelelli, who won the 2005 GRAND-AM title with team owner Wayne Taylor. "It's certainly a nice position that we are in but anything can happen in the race on any given weekend.

"I will personally be playing it conservatively and this is what I have been doing so far since I began qualifying and starting the races.

"But bear in mind that you can only be conservative if you have your opponents under control and behind you. A lot of what actually happens will be determined by where we qualify and how the early part of the race plays out."

His co-driver, Jordan Taylor, is rightfully concerned about how traffic could affect the outcome.

"There will most likely be some fireworks because it's a difficult place to pass – especially going through GT traffic," the next generation driver said. "I think you'll see some desperate guys making some desperate moves trying to win the championship. It's definitely a track that promotes a bit of rubbing and racing so it'll be a good one for the fans.

"I think we go into Lime Rock … just looking to beat the guys we're actually racing for the championship and not get caught up in a race that's going to hurt us in the long run."

Porsche had not won a GT race in 2013 until Potter and Lally raced the No. 44 car to victory at Mazda Raceway. The two have finished sixth or better in all but one race with consistency possibly paving the way to Magnus Racing's first Rolex Series title.

"The team has been unbelievably strong with their race preparation, their pit stops and strategy," said Lally, a three-time Rolex Series champion most recently in 2006. "Honestly, nothing will change for Lime Rock in that sense. We can't play 'prevent' with the point gap right now.

"This might be the biggest race in the history of the team and everybody is just keeping their heads down to run it exactly as they've been doing."

Potter is under no illusion that it will be an easy race, perhaps recalling last year's event.

"We had the lead right up until the end and it all went south with two laps to go," he said. "We can't afford to take any big risks but at the same time we need to focus on the podium. It's the only way to make sure we can walk away with the championship."

Dr. Jim Norman, a 54-year-old Tampa, Fla. surgeon, can hoist his first championship trophy by competing 30 minutes, the minimum required to score points based on the number of expected class entries. He shared the winning GX Porsche Cayman in this year's Rolex 24 and added two more victories before eight consecutive runner-up finishes.

"The Cayman has been pretty reliable but we haven't been quite as fast as the Mazdas," said Dr. Norman. "We've been consistent and haven't made any big mistakes."

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About this article
Series GRANDAM
Article type Breaking news
Tags angelelli, balzan, corvette, dp, ferrari, grand-am, gt, gx, lally, lime rock, mrls recap, norman, porsche, potter, pruett, rojas, taylor