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SunTrust Rises, Ganassi Holds On In Grand-Am Finale

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 30 2012

Another season, another championship for the No. 01 BMW Riley of Chip Ganassi Racing.


Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor of Suntrust Wayne Taylor Racing scored their third consecutive Lime Rock Park race victory and Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of Chip Ganassi Racing wrapped up their third consecutive Daytona Prototype championship in Saturday’s Rolex Series season finale in the GRAND-AM Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park presented by BMW.

Angelelli and Taylor combined to lead a race-high 92 laps in the No. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP, including the last 50 with Taylor at the wheel. The second-generation racer held off a late charge from Antonio Garcia, crossing the stripe 0.334 seconds ahead to score his and Angelelli’s third victory of the season.

“We really transformed the car after qualifying,” said Taylor. “I was sitting there at the beginning of the race hoping for a podium, to be honest. As soon as I saw Max on that restart at the beginning, and he was flying, at that point, I knew we had a car that could possibly win the race.”

Second place went to Garcia and polesitter Richard Westbrook in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, with Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty third in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP.

The championship battle, meanwhile, went to Pruett and Rojas with a seventh-place result in the No. 01 TELMEX BMW/Riley. The teammates entered the race needing to finish ninth or better to clinch the DP driver championship, which they did by 12 points, 379-367, over Ryan Dalziel, who finished sixth. It was the fourth title for Rojas and a record-extending fifth DP championship for Pruett.

“It’s great to be champions,” Pruett said. “I just couldn’t be happier for TELMEX and BMW and the whole Ganassi organization. It’s just been an incredibly difficult and challenging season. We’ve had to really dig deep with all the experience on the team, knowing we didn’t have the fastest car many times during this whole year but scrapped to get every point that we could in order to try and put ourselves in good position for the championship.”

The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team picked up their sixth Daytona Prototype team

The Suntrust Corvette of Wayne Taylor Racing heads to victory at Lime Rock on Saturday. (Photos courtesy of the Grand-Am Series)

championship. Chevrolet won the DP manufacturer championship in the first year of competition for the Corvette DP, and Riley earned the DP constructor championship.

While the GT team and driver championships were wrapped up at the previous round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca three weeks ago – Jeff Segal, his co-driver Emil Assentato, and AIM Autosport Team FXDD won the title – the battle for the Lime Rock race victory came down to the final minutes.

One day after coming up just short in his bid to win the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Street Tuner championship, Andy Lally suffered another heartbreak. With less than two minutes remaining, Lally surrendered the GT lead to Robin Liddell heading into Turn 1 and then Lally’s No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 slowed dramatically, entering the pits at the conclusion of the lap.

Once in front, Liddell pulled away to bring the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro GT.R home to its second consecutive Lime Rock race victory. It was the second Lime Rock victory for both Liddell and co-driver John Edwards, who earned the 2010 GT class victory. Liddell won last year alongside Jan Magnussen.

Dion von Moltke and Jim Norman ended the first season for the new Audi Rolex Series program on a high note, taking second in the No. 51 APR Tuned/Motul/Parathyroid.com/PR Newswire/South African Airways Audi R8 GRAND-AM. Alessandro Balzan and Johannes van Overbeek finished third in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458, securing the GT manufacturer championship for the legendary Italian nameplate.

Segal and Assentato finished eight Saturday.

“It was an ugly race, but we knew that coming into Lime Rock,” Segal said. “You can get involved in weird incidents here, it’s a narrow track, it’s a tight track, people get aggressive around here, and we got caught up in that early in the race. The rest of the race was recovery by the time I got in.”

The team also won the manufacturers championship for Ferrari.

“The manufacturers’ championship was incredibly important for Ferrari,” Segal said. “For us and the team, the driver and team championships are great, personal gratification, but Ferrari is the one who started this movement. They are the ones that started this process, they wanted to come back to the Rolex Series, and had we ended the season without them winning the manufacturers’ championship it would have been very disappointing. I am very happy that we could help them do that, especially with today’s crowd, and with the President of Ferrari North America in attendance as well as representatives from Ferrari Corse Clienti and Michelotto.”

The GT championship-winning Ferrari of Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato at Lime Rock.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 30 2012
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