Daytona Prototype Pontiacs Take 1-2 At Laguna Seca Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen Win Road & Track 250 with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in Close Second; Andy Lally and Marc Bunting Take Second in GT Class SALINAS, Calif. - Pontiac's Daytona...
Daytona Prototype Pontiacs Take 1-2 At Laguna Seca
Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen Win Road & Track 250 with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty in Close Second; Andy Lally and Marc Bunting Take Second in GT Class
SALINAS, Calif. - Pontiac's Daytona Prototype (DP) effort made a much-anticipated comeback today as two of the brand's cars took first and second place in the sixth round of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. Held at historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the two-hour and forty-five minute race was won by Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen in the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty of the #99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley taking second. Pontiac made a strong showing in the GT class as well; Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the #65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R finished second behind Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler in the #72 Porsche GT3 Cup.
"It feels very good to win again; we have been working hard all season to get here," said Max Angelelli. "It was not the easiest race but our pit strategy paid off. We made three stops. The track was slippery with dirt and gravel and it was tight but with some careful driving it could be overcome. We're happy to give Pontiac its first DP win."
The win for the SunTrust team at Laguna Seca marks the first Daytona Prototype win for Pontiac this season. Last season, Pontiac DPs won 10 of 14 races but 2006 competition adjustments had arguably given other manufacturers more room to win. Subsequent adjustments are leveling the field of competition and Pontiac is back on track in grand fashion with this win and also second place by their GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing team.
"I think we may have had a little bit more if we hadn't had damage to our rear spoiler," said Alex Gurney, describing damage from early contact with the #04 BMW. "We drove most of the race with half a spoiler and that affected our tire wear in the rear. The car still worked really well and we don't get many chances where the #23 (Porsche Crawford) is out of it so we made the most of it."
The #23 Porsche Crawford of Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long, which won at V.I.R. and Homestead, was taken out of contention because of a broken shift linkage. Pontiac DPs led for most of the race - the #89 Playboy/Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac Riley, #12 Lowe's Fernandez Pontiac Riley and #99 Pontiac Riley all had notable runs in first place before Angelelli passed the #12 Pontiac Riley on lap 68 and held the lead. Gurney attempted but was unable to pass Angelelli in the final laps. Pontiac's GT-class GTO.Rs kept the pace up and either led or ran second for much of the race as well; Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins of the #64 machine led until lap 16 when they pitted. Their stop gave the lead to the #72 Tafel Racing Porsche which ultimately won the race. Giving the #72 car a run for their money were Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, who finished second to maintain their GT driver and team points lead and the manufacturers points lead for Pontiac.
"We caught Robin, but the only way we could pass was on the brakes," said Lally. "I went deep and we just didn't have the grip left in the rear to do it. I committed; I went in and slid right past him. I tried to do a slide-job and close the door but there was too much gravel out there and I couldn't get the rear to hook up. When I put the power down the car didn't go like it should have with full grip and he got back by."
Gravel and dirt on the track was a major factor in all of the seven cautions that slowed race action. Curbs at Laguna Seca are now lower since the return of Grand Prix motorcycle racing here, allowing for cars to drive onto the gravel and bring back dirt on their return to the track. A spin relegated the #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R to fourth; the third and newest GTO.R, the #98 Pacific Coast Motorsports Pontiac GTO.R of Ross Thompson and David Empringham finished sixth.
The Rolex Series races again next weekend; the series moves on to Phoenix for a combined DP/GT night race on May 13. The event takes place at 7:00 p.m. MST (10:00 EDT) and will be televised on SPEED the following day at 3:00 EDT.