Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was the scene of the second win of the season for the SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara. Max Angelelli crossed the finish line on the 2.708-mile Montreal, Quebec, Canada circuit with time to spare over the Penske Racing...
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was the scene of the second win of the season for the SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara. Max Angelelli crossed the finish line on the 2.708-mile Montreal, Quebec, Canada circuit with time to spare over the Penske Racing Porsche Riley at the end of the two hours of a race that saw a lot of action, incidents and wet weather.
"It was incredible the way it worked out, just incredible," said Angelelli. "
The Wayne Taylor owned team is back in the title fight with today's victory. Brian Frisselle started the Grand-Am Rolex Series third annual visit to the track under wet conditions from the fourth row on groove tires before the track was dry enough to allow slicks. It was the final half-hour that the the wet-weather ended up being a cat and mouse game of staying on the rain tires or taking the chance on the non-groved tires.
Frisselle had moved to second when he handed the Ford Dallara over to his teammate who after the pit stop worked his way back into third, with the Penske team in the lead followed by the pole winning Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley. That was when the rain returned to the circuit and pit stops to change from dry to wet took place. However the rain deceased and the track was drying. On lap 54, the BSR team came into pit lane to take on slicks. One lap later in came the Penske team.
The call by the team to leave Angelelli out was the winning move of the race. Holding the lead at the time, he was turning faster laps on the wet tires versus those who had switched to slicks. He had to keep his tires cool by finding the ever present puddles before the STR team decided to call him in but luck was on their side because before Angelelli could pit, rain drops appeared on the track. The gap at the end was further than one would expect in a Daytona Prototype race; it was over one minute.
"I was telling the team on the radio that the track was ready for slick tires, but they kept telling me to stay out, stay out. Then, when I saw that it was raining again, I couldn't help but laugh because I knew all the other guys were out there on slicks," Angelelli said. "I just want to thank the team for giving me a simply great car and an absolutely great pit strategy. This is just great. We are back in the championship, where we always feel that we should be and we will fight until the last race."
Frisselle added, "I know Grand-Am racing is known for close racing and tight finishes, but I still think today was about as thrilling as it gets for a while there, even though we won by over a minute. When the conditions kept changing and teams had to try and gamble on what to do, that's excitement. I've got to hand it to our guys for making all the right calls. It's just great to win at Montreal for the second time. I can't wait to get to Utah and continue this championship chase. There's still a lot of racing left."
Dumas and Bernhard had to settle for second but they were delighted due to recent changes in the rules. "It was the big day for us. Thanks to Grand-Am (rule change restoring RPM limit to max 9600), we able to battle up front with the 99 car," said Dumas. "It was a nice race and we had the chance to win. It has been six months since we feel that way. We're happy with a podium but feel we could have won this race, and that makes the entire Penske team feel good."
His German co-driver added, "This was our race to win and the changing conditions, rain, then dry, then rain, and not drying as well, it was difficult for the crew to decide what to do. Romain gave me a good car in the lead after his good start, and the changing with the rain, hurt us in strategy. It was crazy changing from pouring rain to dry track, so I am happy to be on the podium, knowing we should have won. We were strong, and that gives us hope for the next race."
The race for third was a close one with Alex Gurney making the pass on Ricky Taylor to take the final podium step on the final lap. Jon Fogarty and Gurney hold the points lead with two events yet to be contested.
"Once I got in we had a lot of battling back and forth with the No. 12 car and had to go in and out of the pits several times because of the changing conditions," Gurney said. "Our car was pretty good in the wet and it was nice to catch Ricky on the last lap and get him for the podium. Great day for the championship, for sure, and we are back in the lead. Just two races to go, so it is crunch time."
Fogarty had the first stint, starting was his pole winning position. He said, "We're pretty happy with our finishing position and it's a good day for the championship points' battle, We are pretty pleased with the pace of the car both in the dry and in the wet, so that bodes well for the remainder of the season."
young Taylor along with Mike Forest gave Beyer Racing its highest career finish. "This is a great result for the entire Beyer Racing team, the best result for the team and my best result in my Grand Am career," smiled Taylor. It had been a tough weekend, we had struggled to get in the top ten but then the rain came and we are right on pace so just a great effort by everybody. We made a lot of pit stops and tire changes and the team performed perfectly, they deserve it."
The first DP out of the race actually belonged to the No. 77 Doran Racing and their two NASCAR guest drivers. Carl Edwards was caught out on the first pace lap and spun at Turn 11 into the guardrail. Edwards and Marcos Ambrose had looked forward to their Grand-Am DP debut.
"The tires with these cars take so long to get grip and are so much different than what I'm used to. I worked the tires in as good as I could, and I just got a little too aggressive at a medium speed corner and it swapped. I feel terrible," admitted Edwards who yesterday put the Ford Dallara seventh on the grid.
Stevenson Motorsports drivers Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell had a bit of space (under 60 seconds) to take the GT class victory in their Pontiac GXP.R. The two repeated last year's win on the circuit when Liddell took the lead away from Andy Lally in the TRG Porsche with 18 laps remaining. It was their third GT win this season.
"This was one of the hardest races I've ever run, especially when we were out there in the rain on slick tires," Liddell said. "It seemed we were on a knife's edge, everywhere. At one point, I spun and lost a few positions. Then I had a great battle with Andy Lally. I got by, and all of a sudden we were in the lead. It was a great result. We're over the moon about that."
Lally held off the challenge in the closing laps that came from Jeff Segal in the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8. Lally had a new teammate for the Montreal race, NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan who was very pleased to take a podium in his Grand-Am debut but mainly for driving a Porsche, let alone a Porsche GT3 racing machine.
"This was my first time in a Porsche - I had never seen a Porsche or been in a Porsche. it has been a long, long, long since I have been in a sports car. This was a lot of fun and I am very happy to be on the podium in my first race. Andy was a great coach," said Gaughan who added with a smile, "If anybody's listening, I'd love to race in the Rolex 24."
The weather conditions were difficult today and the sportscar ace commented on the weather, the tight fight in the GT class and the race. "We had a really good car, and a really good race. We had some really good dogfights in GT, and it's been a while since we've done that and had that much fun in a race. The weather was horrible, and the changing conditions made it tough, but the TRG crew handled it well and made all the right calls," said Lally who recently ran his first NASCAR Cup series race.
Segal and Emil Assentato took the final podium step. "It was a real tough race. Obviously, the weather was the biggest factor all day. Dries, wets, dries, wets. But SpeedSource puts a great team together, we had great pit stops, strategy worked out and Jeff did a great final stint. We're lucky to be there in third," said Assentato.
Segal added, "It was a mess. It was a pretty sloppy race, to be honest. I'm happy to get out of here with a podium. The team was awesome, great stops all day. The car was great. We had a better car in the dry, so we wish it hadn't rained. But all things considered, we're happy with third."