VIR: SunTrust Racing preview

A Week's Worth of Rebuild in Two Days @Superb Planning and Execution by SunTrust Racing Team Gets No. 10 Pontiac Dallara On Track at VIR after Mexico City Accident ALTON, Va. (April 25, 2008) -- Just six days removed from last Saturday's Mexico...

A Week's Worth of Rebuild in Two Days @Superb Planning and Execution by SunTrust Racing Team Gets No. 10 Pontiac Dallara On Track at VIR after Mexico City Accident

ALTON, Va. (April 25, 2008) -- Just six days removed from last Saturday's Mexico City 250, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara team of Wayne Taylor Racing's second devastating crash in as many Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races is nothing but a distant memory as it arrived Friday at Virginia International Raceway for Sunday's Bosch Engineering 250.

A week's worth of work by the SunTrust engineers and crew had to be crammed into two pressure-packed days at the Wayne Taylor Racing shop in Indianapolis to get the brightly colored SunTrust Pontiac Dallara ready for its third appearance in history. The team, featuring drivers Max Angelelli and Michael Valiante, hopes its current streak of bad racing luck is also history. After its back-to-back racing setbacks, it is now 46 points out of first place in the series championship it has grown so accustomed to being in contention for right down to the final laps of each of the last four Rolex Series seasons.

One race after Valiante was punted off the Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway road circuit by the No. 58 Brumos Porsche, Angelelli was bumped from behind by the No. 7 Sigalsport BMW and was sent spinning into a concrete barrier at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez last Saturday, inflicting considerable damage to the entire right side of the all-new Dallara chassis.

The team transporter, with the No. 10 racing machine on board, did not arrive back at the race shop until late Tuesday afternoon, and it had to depart Thursday evening in order to unload and adequately prepare for Saturday morning's opening practice at VIR. Despite the short turnaround, team manager Simon Hodgson, crew chief Travis Houge and technical director Travis Jacobson have nonetheless declared the SunTrust Pontiac Dallara ready to go for this weekend's Round 4 of the 14-race Rolex Series schedule.

Following is a brief timeline describing the rebuild effort, beginning when the battle-damaged race car arrived on a flatbed in the garage at Mexico City last Saturday, and culminating with the race car's unloading by the SunTrust Racing crew at VIR:

Saturday, April 19

* 5:30 p.m. -- WTR (Hodgson, Houge and Jacobson) assess damage in the paddock at Mexico City and list damaged items. Accident report is drafted.

* Chief mechanic directs crew and damaged items are removed and stored in WTR transporter. Spare suspension is fitted to enable chassis to be loaded.

* Major replacement items, such as splitter, nose and rear valance are purchased from Doran Racing (Dallara's authorized U.S. parts distributor) at the track and placed on WTR transporter for transit to Indianapolis race shop.

* Damage report typed up with additional detail (at hotel) and distributed to engineer, chief mechanic and team owner Wayne Taylor.

Sunday, April 20

* Transporter leaves for Indianapolis.

* Crew returns to Indianapolis.

Monday April 21

* Crew able to take day off while transporter is en route from Mexico.

* Accident report examined and decision made to distribute carbon repairs to three different vendors to expedite return.

* Welding needed to repair chassis (front splitter mounting); Dallara contacted in Parma, Italy, for drawings of replacement parts (brackets). Drawings e-mailed from Dallara and sent to outside vendor in Indianapolis for fabrication.

Tuesday, April 22

* 2 p.m. -- chief mechanic, electronics technician, team manager, technical director arrive at shop.

* Remainder of the team able to continue time off while transporter still en route from Mexico.

* 4:30 p.m. -- Transporter arrives at WTR. Transport drivers leave for two days of well-deserved rest.

* Truck unloaded, damaged parts placed in a separate area and damaged items analyzed again. Repairable bodywork separated, prepared for delivery to outside vendors in the morning.

* New parts laid out and inventoried.

* Car placed in car bay, prepared for mechanics' arrival in the morning.

* 6 p.m. -- Staff leaves.

Wednesday, April 23

* Team gathers Mexico City uniforms, other items, to be sent out for laundering.

* Grand-Am contacted to confirm late arrival of WTR personnel on Friday (set-up day) at VIR and rescheduling of official pre-race-weekend Grand-Am technical inspection.

* 7 a.m. -- Mechanics arrive, briefed on provisional build plan.

* 7:30 a.m. -- Department head meeting to confirm shortages and build plan and schedule. Crew updated.

* 8 a.m. -- Repairable items leave WTR for repair.

* 8-11:30 a.m. -- Front suspension, steering items, pedals, seat, engine, gearbox all removed.

* 11:30-12:30 p.m. -- Lunch, briefing.

* 12:30-2:00pm: Chassis checked for further damage and straightness.

* 2-4 p.m. -- Engine installation.

* 4-6 p.m. -- Gearbox and ancillary installation. Removal of damaged splitter chassis attachments.

* 6 p.m. -- All Mexico City parts leave shop for crack checking.

* Crew departs shop for the evening.

Thursday, April 24

* 7 a.m. -- Crew arrives.

* 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. -- Spare suspension assemblies, steering and brakes start to be installed on the car.

* 12:30-1 p.m. -- Crew breaks for lunch, briefing.

* 1-5 p.m. -- Damaged items return. Spare side pod, nose, valance and engine cover pre-fitted to the car. Damaged repairable items are reassembled to be used as spares at VIR, if necessary.

* 3 p.m. -- Laundry returns.

* 5 p.m. -- Car filled with liquids and started for system checks.

* 5-6 p.m. -- Decals fitted.

* 6 p.m. -- Car on ground.

* 6 p.m. -- Transport drivers arrive at WTR.

* 6-7 p.m. -- Spares and equipment inventoried and loaded on the transporter.

* 7:15 p.m. -- Jon Fricker, team member, learns that his expectant wife will probably deliver while he is away at VIR. WTR has contingency, so Fricker told that family comes first. He will stay in Indy.

* 7:30 p.m. -- Team regroups. Transporter leaves for VIR Crew goes home.

Friday, April 25

* 6 a.m. -- Crew departs for drive to VIR.

* Late morning -- Transporter arrives at VIR. Transporter positioned in the VIR paddock.

* 4:30 p.m. -- Crew arrives at VIR to begin garage, pit and car set-up.

-credit: str

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Wayne Taylor , Michael Valiante
Teams Doran Racing , Wayne Taylor Racing