SunTrust Racing Completes Productive Rolex 24 Test; Angelelli and Taylor Welcome Frisselle and Lamy to the Lineup In Final Preparation for Jan. 24-25 Endurance Classic at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2009) -- The No. 10 SunTrust ...
SunTrust Racing Completes Productive Rolex 24 Test; Angelelli and Taylor Welcome Frisselle and Lamy to the Lineup In Final Preparation for Jan. 24-25 Endurance Classic at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2009) -- The No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing completed three days of testing on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway 3.56-mile road circuit Monday afternoon in preparation for the Jan. 24-25 running of the traditional Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, who co-drove SunTrust to victory in the 2005 Rolex 24 en route to that season's Rolex Series championship, took to the track for eight test sessions over three days with new co-drivers Brian Frisselle and Pedro Lamy. They also got their first taste of Ford power under the engine cover of the SunTrust Racing machine, which had been powered by Pontiac since SunTrust joined the series in 2004.
By all accounts, it was a productive three days for the SunTrust team, which posted the third-fastest lap among the 52 car-and-driver combinations that took to the track during Saturday's afternoon session. The lap of 1 minute, 42.331 seconds (125.241 mph) was the SunTrust team's best over the three days and was the 12th-best lap of the test overall. The No. 10 car was fourth-fastest in Saturday's opening session. From Saturday afternoon forward, the team settled into endurance mode in preparation for the 24-hour race and cycled through its driver lineup testing various endurance-oriented components and setups unique to the event.
"It was tough with all that we had to get done," said Taylor, the three-time sports car racing champion who also won the 1996 Rolex 24. "As always, you come here and you're limited on time. You've got to get, in our case, two new drivers integrated. We've never run a 24-hour with this car. Plus, we made an engine change since last season. So there were a lot of things that we needed to run through. Overall, we come out of here with a much better understanding of where we need to be. I'm sure everybody is looking at the timesheets thinking we were struggling. But that's not the case at all. I honestly think we're in a good place after this test. I feel good that we're leaving here with a lot of information for when we come back. Clearly, we've got a great driver lineup. Brian is going to be just fantastic this year. He gives great feedback and he is very calm and really is gentle on the equipment. Pedro is our European superstar guy and he's also very good on the equipment. Max, as usual, is a pain in the rear (grin), but he's the best. I can tell you that I don't remember feeling like I've had as much fun as I've had these last few days driving the car. And the real uplifting factor for our team is that none of this would be possible without SunTrust. They stuck with us after a tough year last year, and that's really what motivates us more than anything."
The veteran Angelelli, who will be paired with Frisselle as his full-time co-driver for the 2009 season, also felt optimistic for this year's 24-hour race after the SunTrust team's work during the past three days.
"I think all of us are very comfortable in the car and with the way things went during the test," Angelelli said. "We kept working hard on a lot of different things in the short time that we had, and I'm very pleased with the progress we made as far as getting the car ready for a 24-hour race. We really didn't have the time to show any great speed, as far as I'm concerned, but I know there's a lot more there and we're doing everything we can to make it work for us on race weekend and show everybody what this car can do in a 24-hour race. No fear, we believe we have everything we need to be fighting for the win here once again."
Frisselle, the 25-year-old from Aspen, Colo., who scored his first career Rolex Series victories on back-to-back weekends last August at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, has taken little time to gel with his new teammates and is getting more and more comfortable with the SunTrust team's still relatively new Dallara chassis and Ford power.
"I think the whole team came in with the idea of getting the car ready for the 24-hour and I think we accomplished that," said Frisselle, who co-drove with Mark Wilkins in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley in 2007 and 2008. "You don't need to have the fastest car. We do have a quick car, but I don't think it's the fastest, yet. But it's good and consistent and not too difficult to drive, and that's really the key for the 24. I think the whole SunTrust team came here with the goal of making a good 24-hour car and I think we accomplished that. Definitely, I'm more comfortable and confident with the car -- just getting to understand the feel and the limit of the car. And the more I work with the team, the more I feel comfortable and confident with them. So every session in the car is positive for me, and every moment I spend with the team is good. We have a good working relationship. Max, Wayne and Pedro are all great teammates to have, so it's been really nice. I think we all like similar things in setups, so there are no conflicts there."
For Lamy, the 36-year-old from Portugal who is a veteran of Formula 1 and, most recently, the European Le Mans Series as a factory driver for Peugeot, the three-day test was his first career taste of the Daytona circuit, as well as the Dallara chassis, which the SunTrust team introduced to the racing world just last March at Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway.
"I think things went quite well," said the first Portuguese driver in history to score a Formula 1 championship point. "I took things pretty slowly and carefully as far as trying to learn as much as possible about the track, the car and the team because everything here is new for me. It's a very organized team and a very nice team to work with, and hopefully we can keep making the car quick for the race. It's a demanding track. The car is very nice, too. It seems we are still looking for the best setup, but I'm sure we can have a winning car when we come back for the race."
To give an indication of the competitiveness of this year's Rolex 24 field, the fast times of the top-16 Daytona Prototypes were all within 1.003 of a second of each other.