Taylor & Angelelli Look To Wrap-Up 2005 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Title In Front of Huge Crowd in Mexico City DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 1, 2005) -- The 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will conclude its 14-race season in...
Taylor & Angelelli Look To Wrap-Up 2005 Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Title In Front of Huge Crowd in Mexico City
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 1, 2005) -- The 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series will conclude its 14-race season in grand fashion, as the series expects its largest crowd ever for Saturday's La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car at the historic Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City (SPEED Channel, Live, 4 p.m. ET).
With well in excess of 100,000 race fans expected, the inaugural Rolex Series visit south of the border is likely to also be the largest crowd to witness a North American sports car race in more than 30 years. In addition to the close and competitive racing that has become a hallmark of the Rolex Series, those fans will also see team and driver championships decided in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes.
Leading the way heading into Mexico City--as they have since winning the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona to open the 2005 campaign--will be No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley co-drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. With five victories and a total of nine podium finishes from their 13 starts to date, Taylor and Angelelli will only need to drive under green flag conditions in the race in order to clinch a share of the Daytona Prototype driver's title. Likewise, the team championship will be clinched as soon as the car takes the green flag on race day.
Earlier this season, Angelelli and Taylor became the winningest drivers in Daytona Prototype history with eight career victories. If they add another victory this weekend, they will become the first set of co-drivers to earn six overall wins in a single season since Terry Borcheller and Forest Barber in 2003, a season in which Borcheller also won the Daytona Prototype title.
However, while Angelelli and Taylor have a lot in their favor heading into the season finale, the huge Mexican contingent on hand will likely be rooting for the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley in the hands of 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett and Mexico City native Luis Diaz. Pruett and Diaz took their third victory of the season last time out in the VIR 400 and remain in mathematical contention for the Daytona Prototype championship.
In order to win the title, Diaz and Pruett would need to win the race and have the No. 10 machine miss the event altogether. With the likelihood of that being somewhat remote, Diaz and Pruett may be forced to settle for a victory in La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car, which would be cause for celebration in its own right. Since Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez reopened in 2002, no Mexican driver has won an international motor race at the facility, and a victory by Pruett and Diaz would make "El Chapulin" an even bigger hero in Mexican racing circles.
Butch Leitzinger and Elliott Forbes-Robinson--who co-drive the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports--are the third and final set of co-drivers to have scored multiple wins in Rolex Series competition this season. The duo earned victories in the Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona International Speedway in June and the EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August, and would love to close out the year with a third victory.
Among those looking to join the multiple winners category are No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford co-drivers Milka Duno and Andy Wallace, No. 67 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley co-drivers Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson and No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley driver Jorg Bergmeister. Duno and Wallace claimed their lone victory of the 2005 season in the 6 Heures du Circuit Mont-Tremblant, while Jonsson and Krohn won the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen in June.
Bergmeister claimed his first-career Daytona Prototype triumph in September's Racetickets.com 250 at Phoenix International Raceway alongside co-driver Christian Fittipaldi. This weekend, the German will once again share the No. 66 machine with 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis.
The six different winners in 2005 matches the Rolex Series record established in 2004, but there remains a host of drivers looking to make it seven with a victory in the season finale. No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley co-drivers Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley have been consistent challengers throughout the season and could complete their maiden Rolex Series season with a victory.
Finlay Motorsports will bring a double-barreled attack to Mexico City, as team owner Rob Finlay will co-drive with Canadian hotshoe Michael Valiante in Essex Racing's No. 5 Ford Crawford. The team recently announced that it will field a pair of Ford-powered Crawfords in 2006, and La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car will provide a sneak preview of the team's future.
While their teammates in the No. 01 machine will likely get most of the attention, Stefan Johansson and Cort Wagner could break through with a victory of their own in the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley for Chip Ganassi Racing. Johansson and Wagner have finished inside the top-six positions in each of their past three races and have place inside the top-seven spots in 10 of 13 starts this season.
Michael Shank Racing is another two-car team that could score a victory with either one of its cars this weekend. Mike Borkowski will once again co-drive the team's No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley with Canada's Kenny Wilden, while the ultra-quick Oswaldo Negri Jr. will co-pilot the No. 60 Flight Options Lexus Riley with Mark Patterson.
No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley car owner and driver Bob Stallings and his co-driver, Alex Gurney, have also shown impressive speed throughout their first year of Rolex Series competition, as have No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Ford Doran co-drivers Matteo Bobbi and Fabrizio Gollin with Doran Racing. Either one of these teams could also break through in Mexico.
Pacific Coast Motorsports will make its Rolex Series debut this weekend with a pair of talented drivers--Scotland's Ryan Dalziel and American Alex Figge--aboard its No. 89 Pontiac Riley. First-time competitors have been known to come out of the box quickly in the Rolex Series, making the combination of Dalziel and Figge another one to watch.
Strengthening a 20-car Daytona Prototype field will be Shane Lewis and Darius Grala in the No. 3 PAP-Parts/OZEXE BMW Riley for Southard Motorsports, Brian Tuttle and Champ Car veteran Mario Haberfeld in the No. 7 Tuttle Team Racing/SAMAX Pontiac Riley, No. 8 Rx.com/Synergy Racing BMW Doran co-drivers Burt and Brian Frisselle, Doug Goad and Marc-Antoine Camirand in the No. 09 Spiralz Custom Jewelry/Chemcraft Pontiac Crawford with Spirit of Daytona Racing, and the Brumos Racing two-car effort of Darren Law and David Donohue in the No. 58 Red Bull Porsche Fabcar and Hurley Haywood and JC France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar.
The championship battle in the GT class is fierce, with just one point separating class co-leaders Andy Lally and Marc Bunting in the No. 65 TRG Pontiac GTO.R from Craig Stanton in the No. 80 Synergy Racing Porsche GT3 Cup. While there are many different championship scenarios, whoever finishes higher between the Lally/Bunting combination and Stanton will likely take home the title.
Bunting and Lally appear to have an edge in that regard considering the fact that they have already taken two class victories this season and there has been at least one Pontiac GTO.R on the podium in each of the last five Rolex Series races. However, Stanton and co-driver David Murry have been quick throughout the season as well, and their proven Porsche GT3 Cup could make the difference at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Look for Jan Magnussen and Paul Edwards to also be in the GT mix in their No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R. In half a season, Magnussen and Edwards have earned two class victories and have finished inside the top-six class positions in five events.
Also not to be overlooked are No. 14 Keen Cap/Toptul Porsche GT3 Cup co-drivers Cory Friedman and Leh Keen, who teamed with Wolf Henzler to take the GT victory in the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen with Autometrics Motorsports. Likewise, Sigalsport is another potential candidate for the GT victory as the team switches to BMW for the season finale and will field Gene Sigal, Matthew Alhadeff and two-time Rolex Series GT champion Bill Auberlen in its No. 05 Sigalsport/Alhadeff Companies/GRW.com.mx BMW M3.
Completing the GT entry list will be Patrick Small and Paul Mortimer in the No. 27 Mill & Textile Supply/Acme Motorsports Porsche GT3 Cup for Autometrics Motorsports, and Steve Johnson and Robert Nearn in the No. 88 Comfort Systems USA Porsche GT3 Cup for TRG.
Practice for the Rolex Series gets underway on Friday, November 4 at 8:30 a.m. CT as the Daytona Prototypes and GT machines get their first look at the 2.786-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The hour-long practice session will be the first of two on Friday for the Rolex Series, with the second session slated for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. After a 30-minute break, the Rolex Series GT machines will take to the track for a 15-minute qualifying session beginning at 5:00 p.m., followed by Daytona Prototype qualifying from 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.
Saturday's race day schedule will see the Rolex Series take its final practice laps of the weekend from 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. CT, followed by an autograph session from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon. The green flag will drop on the 14th and final round of the 2005 Rolex Series, La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car, shortly after 3:00 p.m. CT. The scheduled distance for the race is 90 laps (250 miles) and the race is subject to a two-hour and 45-minute time limit.
SPEED Channel will provide live television coverage of La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 5. Live coverage from throughout the weekend will also be available on the official web site of the Grand American Road Racing Association, www.grandamerican.com.