Third-Consecutive GT Class Win For Pontiac With GTO.R TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs Take First and Second in GT Class of Rolex Series at V.I.R.; Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor Net Second Place among Daytona Prototypes ALTON, Va. - Pontiac scored a ...
Third-Consecutive GT Class Win For Pontiac With GTO.R
TRG Pontiac GTO.Rs Take First and Second in GT Class of Rolex Series at V.I.R.; Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor Net Second Place among Daytona Prototypes
ALTON, Va. - Pontiac scored a third-consecutive GT class victory, this time with its #65 TRG GTO.R of Andy Lally and Marc Bunting, and its highest Daytona Prototype (DP) class finish of 2006 in what was one of the most intense Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series races to date this season. The #65 car took its first win of the season here at Virginia International Raceway, joining its sister car (the #64 TRG GTO.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins, who took second place) on the podium. Edwards and Collins won the previous two GT races - Mexico City and Miami - and this third win by their teammates strengthens Pontiac's lead in GT manufacturers points.
"We started second behind the #72 Porsche (of Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler) because of our qualifying race finish," said Marc Bunting. "I spent most of my stint in third. I went off-course after contact with a DP but a yellow helped us get back up to fourth or fifth. We were afraid we'd damaged a wheel bearing but it held up and Andy (Lally) took the car to the lead."
The #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor led the race for a time and gave Pontiac its best finish of the season; the duo netted second place in what was described as a spectacular finish. Angelelli led the pack of the #01 Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz, who in turn led the #23 Porsche Crawford of Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long through the final laps of the race. Distracted by a final-lap passing effort by Pruett, both Angelelli and Pruett let Rockenfeller slip by in the third-to-last turn of the race. Angelelli traded paint with Rockenfeller but the effort to get by didn't pay off - Angelelli had to settle for second with the #23 Porsche taking the win, although it was SunTrust's best finish of the season to date. Taylor and Angelelli won team and driver championships in the Rolex Series last season, and this podium finish is more in line with their stellar performance last year.
"I'm very happy to be on the podium," said Angelelli. "We had a really tough (qualifying) race yesterday. Wayne did a good job starting so far in the back and brought the car back in a good position. It's been tough for us this year because we don't have a strong package so we're struggling and it's difficult.
"This is the race, together with Daytona, that I wanted to be on the podium. It was very difficult for me to hold down the position because of the change in the package from last year. It's the first podium for Pontiac. It's not their fault. We are working very hard to get the most we can with the rules now."
Pontiac-powered DP cars are now required to weigh 50 pounds more than last year's packages, in part because the brand won 10 of 14 races last year. However, Pontiacs took five of the top-10 DP finishing positions today - a marked improvement over the last several races. Previously, the highest Pontiac DP finish this season was fourth - the #4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger managed that twice this season. The pair finished sixth here at V.I.R.
The Rolex Series and Pontiac resume racing on May 7 when both classes compete in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California. The race will be televised live on SPEED TV at 3:00 p.m. EDT.