SunTrust Racing Fastest at Three-Day Rolex 24 Test Angelelli, New Co-Driver Ricky Taylor, Team Owner Wayne Taylor and Pedro Lamy Set the Pace in Final Preparations for 24-Hour Season-Opener Jan. 30-31 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2010) -- ...
SunTrust Racing Fastest at Three-Day Rolex 24 Test
Angelelli, New Co-Driver Ricky Taylor, Team Owner Wayne Taylor and Pedro Lamy Set the Pace in Final Preparations for 24-Hour Season-Opener Jan. 30-31
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2010) -- Italian driving ace and former series champion Max Angelelli laid down the fastest lap on opening day, and he and his co-drivers Wayne Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Pedro Lamy made it stand up the rest of the weekend as the No. 10 SunTrust Ford Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing wrapped up three days of testing on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway 3.56-mile road circuit Sunday afternoon in preparation for the Jan. 30-31 running of the traditional Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Angelelli, who with team owner and three-time sports car racing champion Wayne Taylor won this event en route to the 2005 Rolex Series championship for SunTrust, clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 40.466 seconds (127.566 mph) during Friday's opening session. It was more than a 10th of a second faster than the next-best lap set in the same session by the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley driven by the all-star quartet of Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.
The three days of testing here this weekend were conducted under some unusually cold temperatures throughout. The fastest five laps of the weekend, and six of the top-10, were recorded during Friday's opening session, when temperatures were only in the low-40s. Saturday morning, competitors were greeted with snow flurries and freezing rain with temperatures in the low-30s, prompting officials to cancel the early morning session. Temperatures topped out at 37 degrees Saturday under windy and overcast conditions, and even though today's testing was conducted under clear blue skies, temperatures barely surpassed the 40-degree mark.
Still, the SunTrust team was at or near the top of the speed charts in the five timed sessions it participated in, including second in Friday's afternoon session and fastest this morning as it successfully cycled through the driver lineup each day testing various setup combinations in hopes of scoring its second consecutive victory on this track, as well as welcoming Taylor's 20-year-old son Ricky as Angelelli's recently named full-time co-driver.
"We really had no problems, which is how you want it to be here," said Taylor, the three-time sports car racing champion who also won the 1996 Rolex 24. "The weather was a challenge, but we're in the same boat as everybody else as far as that goes. I'm really happy. I really feel like we're in a nice position. Being on top, as I always say, only counts at the end of the race. But it's always nice to be fastest any time you are on track with everybody else. It's a confidence boost for the whole team. I really felt that time from Friday was going to stick all weekend. So, I think it's good. Remember, we still are in a development stage with this car because we're one of only two Dallaras out there. Our first year with it (2008), we had all those dramas. I think that, basically, each time we go out, we're learning more. Right now, the car's really good here, whether it's Max or Ricky or Pedro in the car, if you watch everybody's lap times. We're always in the top-five, and that's all you need to do to prepare for this race. Now, we need to go away and make it last like that for 24 hours."
Taylor also was pleased to see his oldest son adapt quickly to the SunTrust Ford Dallara, which he last drove in Rolex Series testing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Formula 1 road circuit last summer.
"Obviously, there was a lot of stuff going on prior to coming to this event in trying to finalize our driver lineup," Wayne Taylor said. "You always sort of second-guess yourself but, in the end, I know Max and I and our sponsors made the right decision to bring Ricky on board and he just proved this weekend that he's the guy to drive with Max for the year. Max worked really well with him, and it's been good all the way around. Everybody's confident."
Angelelli, who won the July 4 Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona co-driving with Brian Frisselle for one of the SunTrust team's two victories in 2009, was extremely pleased to pick up right where he left off on the historic speedway road circuit and also felt confident about the prospects of chasing the 2010 championship with Ricky Taylor as his co-driver.
"It was a good test for us," Angelelli said. "All three days, we were always near the top of the grid. The car seems to be really good. We're really looking forward to the race and, you know, our target is to win the race so, we will try. We're not doing anything really different with the car. There might be a little difference in the way the tires are working with our car, now. We were fast here this weekend, but this is Daytona and it's only the first weekend in January and we have a long way to go before we get to the end of the 24-hour race. But, so far, so good. The weather, I'd say it wasn't too big of an issue. It might have been a little bit difficult for the guys working on the car. We've always been very good here. We won in July. We won here in the past. This track is good for us. Ricky did perfectly. That's all I have to say there. We have a good combination of drivers, and we have everything we need to win the race. So it's now really up to the drivers. Everybody's capable. We're all feeling good together. It's really a nice atmosphere."
For Lamy, the 37-year-old from Portugal who is a veteran of Formula 1 and, most recently, the European Le Mans Series as a factory driver for Peugeot, the three-day test was his second career taste of the Daytona circuit, as well as the Dallara chassis, which he co-drove last year with Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Frisselle to a fourth-place finish at the Rolex 24.
"I'm very glad to be back with SunTrust, this is very good for me," said Lamy, who is the first Portuguese driver in history to earn a Formula 1 championship point. "The car, it seems to be good -- an improvement from last year. Hopefully, we'll be good in the race. It seems much nicer to drive, but it's a little difficult to tell how we compare with everybody else because the track was different than it was last year. The weather situation this weekend made it difficult for everybody. It was very cold and a little bit wet, at times. But we were able to get through our checklist, all the things we had programmed ourselves to get through this weekend. I got in a pretty good run on Friday, so I think it was a good place to finish and come back to when we return for the race."