Defending Rolex 24 champions in trouble early

Calamity struck the defending champions in the fourth hour of the 44th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway when the Matt Connolly Motorsports BMW M3 spun directly in front of the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driven by Emmanuel ...

Calamity struck the defending champions in the fourth hour of the 44th Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway when the Matt Connolly Motorsports BMW M3 spun directly in front of the SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley driven by Emmanuel Collard.

Unable to avoid contact, Collard T-boned the BMW on one of the fastest portions of the track, sending the BMW flying off course and virtually destroying the front end of the SunTrust car. Collard had just taken over the car from team owner Wayne Taylor, who led the race briefly after starting 27th.

Just before the incident, Taylor had commented on how well things were going for his team. "We're doing just what we need to do so far. The traffic is not as bad as we expected but there are times, like when I was hit from behind when making a pass, which people need to pay attention."

Moments later a decidedly dejected Taylor was staring despondently at the ground as crew members scurried to figure out what was wrong with the car and what would be needed to fix it. "It certainly doesn't sound good."

"It sounds like the front pick-up points have been ripped out of the chassis. The bell-housing is bent in the ear. They have new pieces to weld. If anybody can get this car back on the road, these guys can. I'm a bit concerned about Emmanuel. The shot was pretty bad," continued Taylor. "I didn't realize it was as bad as that. I need to find out how he's doing.

"It's really tough. This is the race. This is such an important race for us, although you don't get any extra points. We won it last year and we didn't get any major point gain. We need to try. We need to get the car back here and have a look at it."

It is possible that frame may be damaged. The team is currently assessing the damage.

Both Collard and the driver of the BMW, Jacob Shalit, were examined and released from the infield care center.

Editor's note:

At 5:36 pm, the announcement was made that the 2005 Grand American Rolex Series' champions and defending race winners, SunTrust, had to retire from this year's Rolex 24 due to the damage to their Daytona Prototype.

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Emmanuel Collard , Wayne Taylor , Matt Connolly , Jacob Shalit