Angelelli Closes Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Title Point Lead With Victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (Aug. 3, 2007) -- Max Angelelli closed the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal ...
Angelelli Closes Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Title Point Lead With Victory at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (Aug. 3, 2007) -- Max Angelelli closed the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype championship series points lead to a scant two markers behind leader Scott Pruett on Friday evening at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve to give himself, co-driver Jan Magnussen and the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley team its second victory of 2007 in the 68-lap, two-and-a-half hour Montreal 400k.
Taking the lead from Antonio Garcia, Angelelli led the final 25 laps of the race, and was more than six seconds ahead of runner-up Marc Goossens before a late-race caution on Lap 64 bunched up the field. When the green flag flew on Lap 68, Angelelli sprinted away to win by 0.461 seconds.
Angelelli and Magnussen both led. Magnussen beat Jon Fogarty out of the pits on Lap 14 and led until the second round of pit stops, when Fogarty led a lap under yellow flag conditions. Angelelli, who got in the car, blasted out of the pits second behind Garcia but Alex Gurney, who jumped into No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley, dropped to 10th after a broken wheel gun prolonged their stop.
Angelelli and Garcia immediately took first and second from leader Brian Frisselle, who was off sequence with others, and Angelelli passed Garcia under braking in the final turn on Lap 44 after a series of passing attempts. He was challenged only on the race's final restart, but even then, withstood any attempt to take the checkered flag.
"I had a fantastic car," Angelelli said. "I want to thank the team; they gave me a great pit stop which gave us great position. The car was very strong and fast and I think we have found something in the car which will help us the rest of the year."
Magnussen, who visited Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Formula 1 competition previously, was strong during his entire stint, leading 20 laps overall. Angelelli and Magnussen also won the VIR 400k at Virginia International Raceway in April.
"We started off strong and the car came to me which allowed me to pull up to the (No.) 99," Magnussen said. "The team gave us a great pit stop and we came out ahead of the (No.) 99. Our car was good on old tires and we were able to stay out front."
For Goossens and co-driver Jim Matthews, it marked the drivers' best finish of 2007 in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley. Goossens was a solid top-five runner all afternoon, taking over from Matthews early and making a strong pass on Pruett on Lap 56. A lap later, Goossens passed Garcia for second, and he set the car's fastest lap on Lap 61.
Matthews, who earned the Jim Trueman Award for his efforts, drove the first stint after qualifying 12th. Goossens came in and surged through the field, and was in the top five after the second round of pit stops. He tried to challenge Angelelli on the restart, but didn't have enough momentum to overtake the Italian and 2005 series co-champion.
"He just took off a little earlier than I expected," said Goossens of Angelelli on the final restart. "We had a very good car but we did not have enough for Max at the end. We had a good car all weekend and Jim did a great job and gave me a car to race with in the end. I had a clear run up through the field and we are happy to be here in second."
Fogarty and Gurney had an up-and-down afternoon, but came away with third and closed to within nine points of Pruett. Fogarty started the afternoon strong, leading the opening 13 laps from his fifth straight pole and running third before handing the car off to Gurney. However, a long pit stop during the driver exchange forced the pair to drop as far back as 10th. But in fine Gurney fashion, he needled his way through the field, picking off three cars in a couple laps and finally past Scott Pruett and Antonio Garcia in the final 10 laps.
"No, I didn't know I'd get back up there," Gurney said. "We just had that problem in the pits, just unfortunate. Those things happen, long season, had a lot of good luck for a lot of races; it finally got us. Came out in 10th, and really from then on, I think, to me it's just classic Grand-Am racing. A lot of fun and kind of nasty tough stuff, and you know, I had a lot of fun. I passed a lot of guys, had a really good pass on Pruett, good one on Garcia, and anyways, we had a great car, maybe a car to win the race."
Garcia and Christian Fittipaldi, who drove the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve, put the car out front for three laps after running well throughout the afternoon and finished fourth. Pruett, who kept the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley in the top five after strong challenges, finished fifth with co-driver Memo Rojas.
Toronto native Mark Wilkins and Brian Frisselle in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Exchange Traded Gold/Barrick Gold Lexus Riley finished seventh after Frisselle led six laps. Montreal native Patrick Carpentier started the No. 11 SAMAX/CITGO Pontiac Riley third and ran as high as second before handing the car off to Kris Szekeres. The duo finished 10th after Szekeres spun following contact with Pruett.
In GT action, last-lap contact between leader Dirk Werner and Emil Assentato forced Werner wide in the hairpin, allowing Andy Lally to take the point in the No. 66 TRG CRG/Maxter Porsche GT3 with RJ Valentine for the duo's series-leading fifth victory of 2007. Lally had led earlier before Werner made a pass on Lap 47, and it appeared Lally would stop just short of closing on Werner's point lead.
But as the duo approached the hairpin on the final lap, Assentato nudged Werner ever-so-slightly, nearly sending him off course and giving Lally enough room to dive to the inside.
Lally took over in the opening 20 minutes from Valentine, who qualified the car 15th on the GT grid. Lally steadily moved his way to fourth, and like Angelelli, made a Lap 44 pass for the lead. However, Werner retook the point three laps later, and led until the final lap of competition. For much of the final 20 laps, the top three -- Werner, Lally and Paul Edwards -- ran nose-to-tail, and were separated by less than three seconds.
Lally and Valentine have closed the gap to five behind Werner with only the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in September the remaining race.
"It was an awesome green-white-checker," Lally said. 'I feel bad for Dirk; he got blocked up by a few cars we were trying to get by. He went high and I went to the bottom and he got hit by the car in the middle which let me go by. It was a great finish for TRG, our fifth win of the season let us close within five points of the lead."
Werner, who took over the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Motorsports IPC/Marquis Jet Porsche GT3 from co-driver Bryce Miller midway through the race, and he led twice for a race-high 36 laps. Miller, who qualified third, and again, helped Werner in his quest for the championship. The pair now has nine podium finishes in a dozen starts this season.
Miller spoke for Werner, who had to catch a flight back to Germany immediately after the race.
"The car was good," Miller said. "Dirk and I were very happy with it. It was very unfortunate with the last lap contact with the lap car but we are happy to be here. Andy and RJ drove a great race and hats off to them."
Tom Nastasi, who started strong in Grand-Am's KONI Challenge Series Grand Sport (GS) season, and Terry Borcheller shared third in the No. 15 Blackforest Motorsports USG Sheetrock/Guardian Insurance Ford Mustang Cobra GT after running fifth on the final lap. Both drivers ran among the top five all afternoon, with Nastasi at one point in second. Borcheller tore through the field on the final lap, taking positions from Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Paul Edwards.
"We are in a teething process right now with the car," Borcheller said. "We are ecstatic with a podium right now. The crew did a great job with the repairs on the car right before the race. The crew used a soda can to fix the pulley on the alternator which held for the entire race. It was definitely an exciting race."
Dumoulin, a native of nearby Trois-Rivières, and co-driver Carlos de Quesada put the No. 22 Alegra Motorsports/Fiorano Racing Gatorade/TodayMD.com Porsche GT3 in fourth, while No. 06 Banner Racing/Banner Engineering Pontiac GXP.R co-drivers Tim Lewis Jr. and Leighton Reese finished fifth despite an early race spin.
After starting on the pole, Kelly Collins and Edwards spun to avoid contact in the hairpin on the final lap and ended the race eighth in GT. Collins led five laps, and Edwards ran third for the majority of his run before encountering several lapped cars on the final lap. Trying to avoid contact with Werner, Edwards spun in heavy traffic, sending him into the middle of the turn.
Nick Ham and Montreal native Sylvain Tremblay, also competing for the GT championship, finished ninth in GT in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed Mazda RX-8. Like Edwards, Tremblay ran in the top five on the final lap but also spun off track. The ninth-place finish eliminated Ham from title contention.
The Daytona Prototypes will return to action next Friday, Aug. 10, for the Crown Royal 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International.