SunTrust Team Readies for Return to Virginia Alton, Virginia (April 18, 2006) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series moves to the beautiful Virginia International Raceway for Round Five of the 14-race 2006 season. In the past, the VIR...
SunTrust Team Readies for Return to Virginia
Alton, Virginia (April 18, 2006) -- The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series moves to the beautiful Virginia International Raceway for Round Five of the 14-race 2006 season. In the past, the VIR race has been the penultimate event of the year, but now moves up the calendar to the springtime.
"Virginia is one of the best road racing events that we go to in North America," said three-time sports car world champion and SunTrust Pontiac Riley car owner/driver Wayne Taylor. "I love the circuit. It is how sports car racing tracks were years ago. It is a really, really great circuit."
"I am looking forward to having a podium finish at Virginia because a podium finish would make our life a little less difficult," said Max "The Ax" Angelelli, co-champion driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Mk.XI. "I am excited for the race and glad to go back. We have the potential to fight for the win. This will be my approach for the race."
Qualifying for the VIR 400 race will feature Grand American's first qualifying race format. Hotshoe Max Angelelli will compete in the 30-minute qualifying race on Saturday, April 22nd. That race will count for full points and set the field for Sunday's 250-mile Grand American race. Wayne Taylor will be starting driver for the VIR 400 and Angelelli will be required to drive as well, as in all Grand American races. The double point race weekend should prove to be even more exciting to the fans of Grand American Rolex Sports Car Racing.
b^0x001cI like the VIR track as well, but not the narrowness," added Angelelli, from Bologna, Italy. "This forces you to only have one overtaking spot -- on the main straight in front of the pits. It is kind of dangerous, but I like the track itself with the very fast corners. It is enjoyable to drive a Daytona Prototype sports car at the circuit."
"I always feel VIR is one of our stronger tracks," said Bill Riley, owner of Riley Technologies, who spearheads the racing effort of the SunTrust race team and helped lead them to victory in 2004 at VIR. "The team likes going to Virginia and it is always a great racing atmosphere. I like it because it's such a classic road course. It's rare we go to these classic tracks. The resurrection that has been done over the past six years is amazing. This track will separate the drivers -- the men from the boys."
The 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype defending championship No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team continues to climb the 2006 standings and is now in 11th place after four races. The SunTrust team has had a rough start of the 2006 season but hopes for better results at Virginia.
"We have had a string of four bad races. You usually get a few a year and last year we didn't have any, so I guess we were due. I just didn't realize we'd get four in a row despite the fact we've had a competitive car," said Riley.
An accident just after the fourth hour at the Rolex 24 forced the popular No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley to withdraw when the car was not repairable after colliding with a GT car. At Mexico City the team finished inside the Top Ten with a ninth-place finish following a penalty from touching another car. The Grand Prix of Miami produced an 11th-place finish and the Long Beach race earlier this month was the team's best result with eighth-place.
At the Long Beach Grand Prix the SunTrust team added driver Jan Magnussen to the stable, along with Max Angelelli, instead of regular co-driver and car owner Wayne Taylor. Taylor sat out to oversee management duties and allow Max and Jan to go for a podium finish. Things looked good when Magnussen qualified the car in the third spot. Both drivers managed to put the car as high as second and in contention for a podium finish before an incident with another car derailed Angelelli. Max "The Ax" was able to prove his moniker true again as he cut his way up from 16th to 8th in just 25 laps.
The television broadcast of the VIR 400-kilometer race, which is 250 miles, 77 laps or two-and-three-quarter hours, will be live on Speed Channel on Sunday, April 23 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.