SUNTRUST RACING Rolex 24 At Daytona Preview DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2009) - SunTrust Racing, the last team to win the traditional Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona that does not have Ganassi in its name,...
SUNTRUST RACING Rolex 24 At Daytona Preview
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2009) - SunTrust Racing, the last team to win the traditional Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona that does not have Ganassi in its name, is riding a slew of racing firsts this weekend in hopes of returning to victory lane at one of the world's most prestigious motor racing marathons.
Since Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor co-drove the No. 10 SunTrust Racing machine to a dominating victory at the 2005 Rolex 24 en route to that season's Rolex Series championship, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates has methodically reeled off three consecutive Rolex 24 wins.
So, for this year's 47th renewal of America's signature road racing classic at the 3.56-mile, 14-turn Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway circuit, the cast and crew from SunTrust are pulling out all the stops. First, they're welcoming brand new full-time co-driver Brian Frisselle, and they're running their new Dallara chassis in its first Rolex 24. Portuguese Formula 1 and sports car racing veteran Pedro Lamy joins the SunTrust team for his first Rolex 24. And Roush Yates Racing Ford engines will provide the horsepower for the SunTrust Racing program for the first time this season.
Frisselle, the 25-year-old from Aspen, Colo., comes to the SunTrust team after a breakthrough 2008 season during which he scored his first career Rolex Series victories with the AIM Autosport Ford Riley team on back-to-back weekends last August at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The son of legendary sports car racing veteran of the 1970s and '80s Brad Frisselle and brother of fellow Rolex Series competitor Burt Frisselle went on to finish fifth in the 2008 driver standings.
The SunTrust Dallara chassis, meanwhile, is riding a huge wave of momentum from the closing three races of the 2008 Rolex Series season during which it scored its first victory at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., followed by back-to-back runner-up finishes at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville and Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
Add the Roush Yates Ford powerplant that won four of the 14 events on the 2008 Rolex Series tour, and endurance racing veteran Lamy, the Peugeot factory driver who might be running his first career Rolex 24 but has been victorious in multiple European 24-hour races at Nurbergring, Zolder and Spa, and who has run nine 24 Hours of Le Mans with a best finish of second in 2007, the ingredients seem to be in place for SunTrust's best shot at the Rolex 24 victory since its dominating performance of 2005.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
How important is this year's Rolex 24 to you, and after all these years, is it a fun race for you?
"To win the race, the Rolex 24, is the biggest accomplishment of the year. It's the first one we do each year, in January. Then we'll have a long rest before the second race. So you need to go and win the race, or at least finish in the top-three, so you can have a nice relaxed time between the first two races, and then continue on with the rest of the season. It's a good race. It's a very difficult race. I like the atmosphere. I enjoy the race, the atmosphere, the competition. But I treat it like a job. I don't go to have fun. I go to drive, to fight, and to win, and to be the best. Always the best."
What are your impressions of your new full-time co-driver Brian Frisselle?
"He's nice, young, clean, always smiling. He's great. He's a breath of fresh air."
You finally get the chance to co-drive with Pedro Lamy after years of trying. What is it that people need to know about Pedro?
"Pedro Lamy ... I rate him as one of the best sports car drivers in Europe. My relationship with him goes back to the early 1990s when we raced together in single-seaters. Then he went on to Formula 1 and I didn't make it. So now we got together again for this Rolex 24 and I'm really looking forward to the experience. He brings us everything we need to get a good result out of this race."
Quotes from Brian Frisselle, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
This is a big move for you in 2009, coming to the SunTrust team. How does it feel to become part of the effort?
"I know I have the opportunity to work with a team of the caliber of the SunTrust team, that has won the championship and has established itself as one of the best in the sport, a team owner like Wayne Taylor and a teammate like Max Angelelli. The opportunity is unbelievable. I know there are a lot of other drivers who would love to have an opportunity like this. It's the opportunity of a lifetime. I hope to make the most of it and hopefully can end the year with a championship for the team."
What would a win in the Rolex 24 mean to you, and what makes it such a difficult feat?
"Winning this race would be my new No. 1 career moment, for sure. Last year's two wins are my greatest career achievement right now. But a Rolex 24 win would move to the front if it came to be. Now that I've competed in it for several years, I know how unbelievably hard it is to win it. And to look at all the great drivers from around the world who come here to try to win this one race, and for you to go out there and win, it would be a great feeling. Any type of racing for 24 hours is an extreme challenge. The things you're asking your car to do are pretty amazing, and when you think about all the many things that can break on the car, it's amazing that any cars finish. But that's why it's such a big feeling to race here and that's why so many drivers come here to try and win this race."
You're teamed with three veteran drivers as far as winning 24-hour races is concerned. What do you bring to the party?
"What I'm hoping to bring are consistent, clean laps. The Rolex 24 is all about knocking down laps. It doesn't matter so much how fast you go. It's all about staying out of trouble. I hope to drive a perfect stint every time, stay out of trouble, and hand the car off to Max or whoever can bring it home for the win."
Quote from Pedro Lamy, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
You're finally getting the chance to co-drive with your longtime friends Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor. It'll be the first time for you driving a Dallara prototype and your first time racing at Daytona, but you bring a wealth of experience and success in 24-hour races. How do you feel about your prospects this weekend?
"I got my first real taste of everything at the test and I think it went very well for everybody. I got to learn the Daytona track and learned that it will be a very demanding race. The Dallara is still a very new race car but I think it is a car that can win this race if everything goes well. I really like working with this team. It is a very organized team and I can see why they have been so successful in the Grand-Am series. The driver lineup is one of the best for the 24-hour race and I really think if everybody just does their job and we have no problems that we can be there at the end, fighting for the win. I've raced many, many 24-hour races at Le Mans, Spa, Nurbergring and Zolder, and that is what it always comes down to - driving good clean laps every time, and staying away from trouble."
Quotes from Wayne Taylor, co-driver and owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara team:
What makes the Rolex 24 such a difficult race?
"Well, it's 24 hours. It's day and night. It's changing weather conditions. And the series has the engine formula so well-matched that it's tough for anybody to run away with it. The top 16 cars were separated by 1 second at the test. I don't know where else in motor racing you see that kind of competitiveness. This year, while there might be fewer entries, the quality and competitiveness of the field is much better than ever. So it'll be an incredibly difficult race, as it always is. And, like I always say, you don't win this race by spending time in the pits. To win this race, you just need to keep running and stop only for drivers, fuel and tires. It's a difficult event. It's one of the best events. For me, personally, it's my home race, so I'm always excited about it. It's a big venue for SunTrust, my big partner."
Is this still a fun race for you as a driver?
"You know, I don't drive much anymore. But it's the one event I still get excited about driving in. There are many elements and I love the speedway and I've had a lot of success there. It's a great event. This year is even more special because I have both my kids (Ricky and Jordan) running in the big class. The two of them have teamed up with Jeff Beyer and are running the Pontiac Riley that we actually ran last year, so it makes it very much a family event. With the Rolex 24, I'm still as excited about driving as I was 10 years ago. But I will say I don't have that passion at all about driving at any other race, which is also a fantastic feeling because you live your whole life being a driver and it's all about driving, and you always wonder during your career how you're going to feel when the day comes that you are no longer driving. And I can say absolutely clearly - Shelley my wife and my kids will say the same thing - when I go to these other events, I have absolutely no passion, no interest in being in the car. But this event is something completely different and special."