Pontiac's First Full GT Season Exceeds Expectations Three Championships Clinched in Rolex Series GT Competition DETROIT - After only its first full season of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series GT-class competition, Pontiac garnered three ...
Pontiac's First Full GT Season Exceeds Expectations
Three Championships Clinched in Rolex Series GT Competition
DETROIT - After only its first full season of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series GT-class competition, Pontiac garnered three separate championship titles with its three production-based GTO.Rs. In addition to capturing its first GT class manufacturers trophy, two Pontiac drivers, Andy Lally and Marc Bunting (No. 65 TRG/F1 Air GTO.R), took driver titles and their team TRG won team honors.
En route to these championships, a GTO.R was on the podium for every race of the 2006 season. Combined with the six-consecutive podiums from the end of last season, Pontiac's performance set a new Rolex Series record.
"When we entered the GT class of the Rolex Series mid-season last year, our long-term goal was to win the manufacturers championship," said Steve Sitek, brand promotional manger for Pontiac. "In an extremely tough class competing against some of the world's best performance vehicles, we really exceeded all of our expectations by taking home the championships this season, and that's a tribute to the hard work of all of the men and women on all of our Pontiac-powered teams."
Pontiac's outstanding GT season was comprised of eight wins, six second-place finishes and another six third-place spots. Five pole positions were also awarded to the GTO.Rs, two of them resulting from first-place qualifying race finishes.
Among the honored GT drivers were third-place finishers Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins of the No. 64 TRG/iRise GTO.R; their team also took third in team points and Collins led the most laps (100) among GT class drivers this season. Several records were also set: 19 consecutive podium finishes beginning in 2005 became a new GT class record this year (the DP record also belongs to Pontiac with 26-straight podiums in 2004 and 2005) and a podium sweep at Phoenix this season was the first time ever a GT manufacturer took 1-2-3. The podium sweep became a contender for the fan-voted 'Rolex Moment of the Year.'
Pontiac's Daytona Prototype effort ended the season at a solid second place in the standings, only seven points shy of first place. The first quarter of the season did not go as smoothly as the entirety of 2005 but the brand was able to finish second at V.I.R., the fifth race of he season, and from then on only missed the podium once. Wins at Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio (and a qualifying race at Phoenix) helped propel Pontiac to the manufacturer points lead after the race at Barber Motorsports Park. After the second-to-last event at Infineon Raceway, Lexus moved ahead and managed to stay there to the season end by a narrow margin.
"We made a solid run at a third-straight DP title and came very close," said Sitek. "Engine improvements helped us rally mid-season and were able to, for a significant period of time, lead the DP class. In the end, we missed our mark by only a few points, but I think we certainly demonstrated Pontiac's performance capabilities are a match for such an intense competitive environment."
Last year, Pontiac drivers Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor won DP drivers titles and their team, SunTrust Racing, took team honors. This year, Angelelli came achingly close to a repeat. Although the driver championship was won by Jörg Bergmeister and the team championship by the No. 01 Lexus Riley, Angelelli and SunTrust finished in an impressive third place in driver and team points, respectively.
The 2006 season may have ended earlier than the year before, but the off-season will be busier than ever with testing at Daytona (November 6-7), Miami (December 5-6) then again in Daytona (annual test days January 4-6) before the famed Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 27.
-credit: gm racing