Mexico City: Finlay Motorsports race report

Gidley and McDowell Score First Win For Finlay Motorsports From The Pole In Mexico City MEXICO CITY (November 5, 2005) -- In the first trip south of the border for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, a large and enthusiastic crowd saw ...

Gidley and McDowell Score First Win For Finlay Motorsports From The Pole In Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (November 5, 2005) -- In the first trip south of the border for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, a large and enthusiastic crowd saw Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley co-drive the No. 19 Finlay Motorsports BMW Riley to victory in La Gran Final de la Serie Rolex Sports Car at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

The first-time Rolex Series winners crossed the finish line ahead of Max Angelelli, who joined teammate Wayne Taylor in clinching the 2005 Daytona Prototype team and driver championships in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley.

Fans were treated to close competition and great racing at Mexico City's famed 2.786-mile, 17-turn circuit, and with five lead changes and no caution periods. Gidley, driving the No. 19 BMW-Riley that McDowell qualified on the pole, took the lead for the second time on lap 74 and held off a closing-laps charge by Angelelli to score the maiden-win for the first-year Finlay Motorsports team and the first Daytona Prototype win for BMW.

The Gidley/McDowell duo averaged 92.859 mph and crossed the finish line 1.484 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. During the 90-lap race, McDowell led 7 laps, while Gidley led 21, including the all-important final lap.

The Finlay Motorsports team has scored one pole, one victory, one 2nd, five top-5 and four top-10 finishes during 2005, and winds up the season championship battle in 6th place.

"It's awesome to be in Mexico, I just love the people down here," Gidley said. "I lived in La Paz, Mexico for 13 years, my sisters went to school down here, and I consider all the Mexican people my second family. It's great to get our first win down here. The Finlay team has done a great job all year. We really earned this one, we were fast in qualifying, we were fast in the warm up, and we won it in the race. It's a tribute to Finlay Motorsports."

"The start was really busy with cars close on either side of me going into the first turn, and it was either crash us all or let one of them go by, which is what I did," said McDowell. "We knew we had a car capable of winning the race, and we were able to move back into first place within a few laps. We knew that with mostly DP and only a couple of GT cars in the race there was a good chance of a race with no yellow flags and planned our strategy accordingly. The Finlay Motorsports team did a great job all season long and we really want to attribute this win to the whole crew. This is a brand new team that started from scratch last December and to get a win in our first season is a real achievement. I just can't thank the whole team, and our technical partners, including our engine builder Steve Dinan, enough."

Finlay Motorsports, having announced that it will change to a 2-car team of Ford-powered Crawfords for 2006, decided to get a jump on familiarizing themselves with the new combination by working with Essex Motorsports to run a Ford-Crawford in Mexico City for team drivers Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante. A mishap in qualifying resulted in the duo starting 18th, but the pair soldiered on to finish 12th."We learned a lot about the new car and engine package, which was our primary goal," said Finlay. "We also wanted to finish high enough to help Essex Racing secure a spot in the Hoosier Pace Setters program for 2006, and we achieved that as well. It was a great experience to make my debut as a Daytona Prototype driver in front of such a large and enthusiastic crowd, and we'd like to thank the Essex Racing team for helping us out this weekend."

Essex team owner Mike Gue was similarly pleased with the results of the weekend, stating "For me, Michael Valiante was the star of the weekend. He's a very impressive young driver with superb technical feedback who helped us not only achieve a good result this weekend, but also gave us some insight into the car that will continue paying off for us in 2006. We're happy to have contributed to a successful weekend for a team the caliber of Finlay Motorsports, and hope to continue as friendly competitors in the coming season."

Finlay Motorsports will be taking delivery of its new Crawford-Fords within the next two weeks, and will begin a comprehensive testing and technical program in anticipation of competing for the 2006 Rolex Series championship.


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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Memo Gidley , Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante , Michael McDowell