SunTrust Team Settles for Ninth After Adversity in Mexico City Race Mexico City, Mexico (March 4, 2006) -Round Two of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series was a challenging race for the defending championship No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac...
SunTrust Team Settles for Ninth After Adversity in Mexico City Race
Mexico City, Mexico (March 4, 2006) -Round Two of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series was a challenging race for the defending championship No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team. They persevered in adversity to finish ninth overall in a very competitive event.
After qualifying 12th and starting from the sixth row, SunTrust car owner/driver Wayne Taylor barely made it to the cockpit to race today after becoming ill from a virus. Then a late race penalty while in fifth position put the popular SunTrust team down five positions. Max "The Ax" Angelelli was able to bring it home in ninth place, awarding the needed 22 points and elevating them in the 2006 Daytona Prototype championship standings.
"I think the virus that Max had in Italy earlier this week and that some people have here is what I got," said Taylor, who co-drove to second place in the Mexico City race last year. "I was absolutely gone. I was really lame. There was no way I thought I could do the race. But I rested, had an IV and got some medication and was able to at least do my stint."
"Going into the race, the only difference we made from yesterday was that we hooked up the rear bar and the car was really good," added Taylor, a two- time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner
Starting driver Taylor pitted on lap 44, just over one hour into the 100- lap race, after bringing the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Mk.XI up five positions to seventh place in a near "Superman" performance. The team did a full pit stop for fuel, tires and driver change, just as the first caution of the race came out. Angelelli worked the 500-horsepower Pontiac V-8 race car up to fourth place before being assessed a stop-and-go penalty on Lap 86 for "avoidable contact" with the No. 19 Ford Crawford. Angelelli did not quite see it the same way as the Grand American officials.
"It looks like it is impossible to overtake people in this championship," said Angelelli, who co-drove with Taylor to the Daytona Prototype Driver Championship last season. "It's impossible. We have to stay in line and be nice to each other like being in school in front of the professor. This is not the way I like racing and I'm very upset. When you race, you have to take risks. If you take risks in this championship, you are penalized. This is unfair."
"It's not the finish I wanted but at least it's a good finish. It's a shame we got the penalty at the end. It's hard to have these cars race this close and not touch each other," said Bill Riley, owner of Riley Technologies who spearheads the No. 10 SunTrust team effort. "Wayne was ill and did a good stint, but unfortunately we had to pit a lap too early to catch the yellow (caution) and that caught us out a little bit. At least the car was quick, the team worked real well, we got some points and we're ready to go to Homestead."
Winners of today Mexico City 250 were Mexican driver Luis Diaz and teammate Scott Pruett in the No. 01 CompUSA/Ganassi Lexus Riley. Their first victory of the season was hugely popular with the local Mexican fans.
The SunTrust team came into this event following adversity at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, when they withdrew from the race just after the four-hour mark following an on-track collision with a GT car. The No. 10 Pontiac Riley Mk.XI had to be totally rebuilt between the Daytona and Mexico City races.
In 2005, the SunTrust team began their remarkable five-win championship season with an impressive victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona before going on to capture and total of ten podium finishes in 14 races, three pole positions and seven fastest laps. Additionally, the SunTrust team became the winningest in Daytona Prototype competition with eight victories over two season and completed every lap available, 2,050, during the course of the 2005 season.
The SunTrust Pontiac Riley team finished second at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit in Mexico City last November at the Grand American finale. They clinched the 2005 Grand American Daytona Prototype Team and Driver Championship at that race.