MONTREAL (Aug. 24, 2010) -- What do Michael Schumacher, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Alan Jones, Lewis Hamilton, SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli -- oh, and throw in Canadian stock car racer Kerry Micks, for good measure -- all have in ...
MONTREAL (Aug. 24, 2010) -- What do Michael Schumacher, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Alan Jones, Lewis Hamilton, SunTrust Racing's Max Angelelli -- oh, and throw in Canadian stock car racer Kerry Micks, for good measure -- all have in common?
Of 46 major motorsports events held at Montreal's legendary Circuit Gilles Villeneuve since the Formula 1 facility hosted the first Canadian Grand Prix in 1978, they are the only seven drivers to score multiple wins.
Thus, when Angelelli co-drove the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara of Wayne Taylor Racing to his second victory in just the third GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Montreal 200 ever held there last August, the veteran Italian joined some pretty elite company, thank you very much. Only Schumacher, who scored an incredible seven Formula 1 victories on the 2.709-mile, 15-turn road course from 1994 to 2004, and Piquet, who scored three Formula 1 victories from 1982 to 1991, have won more than twice on Canadian racing's most hallowed ground. Senna, Jones and Hamilton have won a pair of Formula 1 races each. Micks, who hails from Ontario, won the 2006 and 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events. And, for what it's worth, no driver has won more than once in the three NASCAR Nationwide Series races and five Champ Car World Series events held at the circuit.
Angelelli hopes to make it three-for-four Saturday on the Ile Notre-Dame located on the St. Lawrence River when he and SunTrust Racing co-driver Ricky Taylor wage war against their Rolex Series competitors for the next-to-last time in 2010. They earned their fifth podium finish of the season three weekends ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and look to lock down second place in the point standings for SunTrust's sixth top-three finish in the Rolex Series championship since joining the series seven seasons ago.
While the championship-leading No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas looks to make history after winning a series single-season record-tying seventh victory at Watkins Glen, Angelelli and his 21-year-old co-driver Taylor look to add another win or two before season's end to the one they enjoyed at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on a truly memorable Memorial Day. Their championship hopes, unfortunately, look rather dire in light of the Ganassi team's 30-point advantage, but they do have some breathing room with an 11-point margin over last year's champions -- the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Chevrolet Riley duo of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty -- who occupy the third spot in the standings.
Practice for the Montreal 200 begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 5 p.m. EDT. Live streaming video of Friday's qualifying session will be available at www.SPEEDTV.com beginning at 4:55 p.m. Race time Saturday is 2:15 p.m., with live television coverage on SPEED, as well as live radio coverage on the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128, beginning at 2 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions can be found at www.grand-am.com.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
Your overall thoughts about heading to Montreal this weekend for the season's next-to-last race?
"It will be really nice and I am looking forward to it very much. We definitely want to win a race or two before the end of the year because only one is not enough. We will try to push ourselves as hard as we can, once again, because the SunTrust car has been good all year and we have the potential to win every weekend. But, then again, a lot of it is really up to the 01 (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) car because they have been absolutely unbeatable. So, in a lot of ways, there is nothing we can do more than what we have done because the rest is out of our hands. You can have a perfect race, like we have at least a few times this season, and the best you can do is finish second. Or, you can have an average race and finish third or fourth or worse because there are so many other good teams out there ready to take advantage. We have a good history at Montreal, so we have that working in our favor."
What is it about the Montreal race that has allowed you to be so successful there?
"We won a race because of speed, and that was the very first year (2007). And then we won a race because of a good strategy (in 2009). So, we won one race by speed, and the other was won with strategy. The first year, the SunTrust team was very, very strong from the moment we unloaded the car. That was our race to win, and everything worked perfectly. Last year, we didn't have the fastest car but we had the perfect strategy, and the rain came at just the right time. Two years ago, it was our first year there with the Dallara and we had brake cooling problems that made it a very difficult weekend for us. But we learned and came back stronger last year. Otherwise, I just love being in Montreal. The track is in a beautiful city and on a beautiful island. The atmosphere, it's beautiful. Going there in August is great because all the people on holiday make it a very fun atmosphere. You share the weekend with the local people, the tourists, and the (NASCAR) Nationwide series and it is fantastic. Montreal is such a great place, you know that not only the track is going to be a nice experience, but it is also going to be nice in the evening and in the morning. I wish we could share more weekends with the NASCAR series. I wish we could have these types of events in these types of places more than just once a year."
Talk a little bit about the Montreal circuit and what makes it so unique to the GRAND-AM competitors.
"I love the track because it makes for very good racing. The track is mainly made up of chicanes, when you first look at it, like going around a big, right-handed oval with four or five chicanes. But the actual fact is the chicanes are all very different and very technical, very bumpy, very narrow, very difficult. So, it gives you multiple places to overtake cars. You can actually have some action going on. In my book, these types of tracks are always welcome because you will not have a single-file race. You can have overtaking, you can try things, you can take some safe risks, you can do stuff."
Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara:
You're going back to Montreal with the defending race-winning team, and the team that has won two of the first three Rolex Series races ever run on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Does that help your outlook for this weekend, considering it's your first time there with the SunTrust team?
"Yeah, it's always nice to come back as the defending race-winner, even though I didn't have anything to do with it. Last year's win was thanks to a big strategy call for the SunTrust team. I was able to get my best career finish to that point (fourth place in the No. 13 Beyer Racing entry) last year following the same strategy. So it was a good day for the Taylor family, for sure. This year, though, we go to Montreal feeling like it's one of the few tracks we're actually a little bit concerned about performance-wise. It's a low-downforce track and, the way our car is, it doesn't suit us as well as some other tracks do. That's what the team has been preparing me for, anyway. But with all the track time we will have to get the SunTrust car working the way we like it, I think we could be good to go by the time it matters. As a driver, I like the track a lot. It's nice to go to a current Formula 1 track. Montreal, the whole city, supports the track and the people fill the place for our race. I remember talking to a lot of the fans last year and realized they're so into our racing. It's cool to see because you don't see that everywhere with sports car racing these days."
What kind of things can you do to make the SunTrust car faster around the Montreal circuit during your three hours and 50 minutes of practice on Friday?
"There are endless adjustments that we can make to the car. Luckily, this is one of the weekends where we have more track time than just about any other weekend, so we have time to work on it and get it right. Travis (Jacobson, technical director), as he does every weekend, comes prepared with a long list of adjustments that we can make, so we'll just take it step-by-step. Montreal is a low-downforce track, so having a car that's good on the brakes and has mechanical grip is key. It's good if you can make your car work over the curbs, as well, because the track has lot of chicanes and you'll want to make the laps as short as possible by using the curbs effectively. If I had to pick one key corner, it would be the hairpin leading onto the backstraight, which is the longest straight on the track and where we reach speeds up to 180 mph. We'll do our best to put it all together."
You got to take a nice break from the racing schedule and your school schedule at the University of Central Florida by visiting your parents' native South Africa with your mom and brother Jordan for the last two weeks. What was that like?
"We don't get to see that part of our family that often since they're all the way down in South Africa, so we had a nice time seeing all of them. We did tourist things, visited Soweto, where there is a lot of history, the Kyalami racetrack and all the racetracks around where we happened to be. It worked out perfectly because Jordan and I were out of school, and our cousins down there were out of school, and we had no race to worry about. I think, for me, getting to spend time with that part of our family was the best part of all. We came back in time for Jordan and I to start the fall semester at UCF this week. I'm taking Physics and Calculus II this semester, so it's going to be a rough one."
Wayne Taylor, owner of the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Ford Dallara team:
Your overall thoughts heading up to Montreal this weekend?
"Well, our most important order of business, with the Ganassi team so far ahead in the championship, is to make sure and keep hold of our second place in the championship. We also want to be able to move Max and Ricky up into second in the driver championship these last two races. Ryan Dalziel is four points ahead of them right now, so we will need to finish ahead of the 8 car (Starworks Motorsports), as well as the 99 car (Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing) for the team championship. For us, the championship chase has been a matter of our car being pretty fast everywhere but just not being able to put everything together enough times. Then again, we're competing this year against a team (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) that has won seven of the first 10 races and seemingly can do no wrong. The one thing, for sure, that's come out of this year for us is we've finally gotten the best out of this car and know that, everywhere we go, we have a fast car. We're going into Montreal, where we won last year on strategy as a result of the rain. We also won there convincingly in 2007. I love going there. It's not expected to be one of our best tracks, so a lot of effort has gone into making sure we're the best we can be this weekend."