IT'S OFFICIAL: SUNTRUST ROLEX 24 LINEUP IS 'TAYLOR-MADE' IN EVERY RESPECT Father-Son Duo of Wayne and Ricky Taylor Slated to Co-Drive With Regulars Angelelli, Valiante at Rolex Series Season Opener ATLANTA (Jan. 10, 2008) -- Notable ...
IT'S OFFICIAL: SUNTRUST ROLEX 24 LINEUP IS 'TAYLOR-MADE' IN EVERY RESPECT
Father-Son Duo of Wayne and Ricky Taylor Slated to Co-Drive With Regulars Angelelli, Valiante at Rolex Series Season Opener
ATLANTA (Jan. 10, 2008) -- Notable father-and-son driving combinations have played a significant role in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the annual Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening marathon that pits man and machine against the clock for 24 grueling hours each January. Some of racing's most notable racing families have seen multiple generations tackle this world-renowned event over the years -- names like Andretti, Unser, Gurney, Pearson and Allison.
For the 2008 edition of the Rolex 24, set for Jan. 26-27 on the 3.56-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road circuit, add Taylor to that growing list of father-and-son driving duos as two-time event winner and three-time sports car champion Wayne Taylor will be joined behind the wheel of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley for the first time by his 18-year-old son Ricky. Along with regular, season-long drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante, they'll be trying to bring SunTrust its second Rolex 24 victory in the last four years. Angelelli and Wayne Taylor spearheaded SunTrust's 2005 Rolex 24 victory en route to that year's Rolex Series championship.
"We have never done anything without a total focus on winning races and winning championships," said Wayne Taylor, whose team recently concluded a successful three-day test at Daytona with his son, Angelelli and Valiante in preparation for this year's Rolex 24. "The most important thing is that Ricky has the full support of SunTrust, as well as Max, Michael and the entire Wayne Taylor Racing organization as we try to bring home another Rolex 24 victory for SunTrust. A year ago, we set out on a testing program that would work toward putting Ricky behind the wheel for the Rolex 24. After what we saw from him at Daytona in November, and again this past weekend, he proved to us that he has all of those things that are necessary to be a part of a race-winning lineup. And from the standpoint of being his father, it's obviously something very special for me, personally."
Coincidentally, Taylor's younger son, 16-year-old Jordan, also will take part in the Rolex 24 for the first time this year as he was a recent addition to the No. 17 Terra Firma Motorsports GT-class entry.
"Now, if we can just get my wife, Shelly, in the pace car, we can have the entire Taylor family in the race," quipped Wayne Taylor at this past weekend's test.
"Since we first entered the Rolex Series back in 2004, SunTrust proudly has had a potential race-winning entry at the Rolex 24 each year," said Craig Kelly, Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, SunTrust Banks, Inc. "Wayne's credentials certainly speak for themselves when it comes to driving in and competing for the Rolex 24 victory each year, and we are happy to have him back behind the wheel once again. And I speak for the entire SunTrust Racing family when I say we are extremely delighted to welcome Ricky Taylor to our lineup. We've seen him rise through the racing ranks since he was a youngster and, from all indications, is ready for the biggest challenge of his career, thus far. Nobody will argue he has the racing pedigree, the talent and the desire to win. We can't wait to get back down to Daytona and start the season anew with this exciting lineup."
Ricky Taylor's road to this year's Rolex 24 saw him exhibit championship form in some of America's most elite open-wheel proving grounds. That championship form was displayed time and again as he logged hundreds of testing laps during the past year in the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac, and also briefly tested an IMSA Lights Prototype in that time. A year ago, Taylor was crowned Skip Barber Southern Series Champion before sailing through the 14-race Skip Barber National Series scoring a pair of wins, a series-high five pole positions, and finishing second in the season-long championship. His victories came at Sebring and Road America, and he accumulated five podium finishes in all. In addition, Taylor's five pole positions tied him with Scott Speed (recent Formula 1 driver) and Salvador Duran (currently with the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Rolex 24 effort for the second year in a row) for second-most in a single season. He also led the second-most laps this past season on the Skip Barber National Series.
"The last year of testing has been absolutely great," Ricky Taylor said. "I'm getting to prepare for the 24-hour race with one of the best teams in all of racing, and some of the best drivers who have ever driven a sports car. I learned a lot, obviously, every time we tested, and every lap we turned. Last weekend, getting used to driving with 60-something cars out there at the same time was the biggest test of all, and it was just a matter of getting more and more comfortable with it every lap. I've been going to that track ever since I was a little kid. It was definitely a special feeling to be walking around there with my helmet and driver's suit as a member of the No. 10 SunTrust team for the first time. I can't wait to come back on race weekend to do it again, this time for real. I just want to thank SunTrust, my dad, Max, Michael and the whole team for having the faith in me to give me this opportunity. It's going to be great, and I hope to help get another Rolex 24 win for SunTrust."
"We spent a considerable amount of time working with Ricky in traffic during the November test and again this past weekend," said Wayne Taylor, who for the first time in the Rolex 24 will have the benefit of a second "team" car in the form of the No. 9 Toshiba Pontiac Riley, which is a collaborative effort between Wayne Taylor Racing and Penske Racing and features drivers Helio Castroneves, Kurt Busch and Ryan Briscoe. "Traffic is one of the unique characteristics of the Rolex Series, and the 24-hour race in particular. Ricky proved he could put together fast laps. He has a really good head on his shoulders when it comes to knowing when to stand on the gas and when to play it safe. He was doing things that other drivers with far more experience were doing out there."
Practice and qualifying for the 46th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins Jan. 24. Race time is 1:30 p.m. EST on Jan. 26 with the FOX network and SPEED-TV combining for an unprecedented 17 hours of coverage.
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