Taylor, Angelelli Win Final Grand-Am Championship
Wayne Taylor Racing’s driving tandem of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor needed to finish fourth or better in Saturday’s season-ending Grand-Am Rolex race to win the 2013 Daytona Prototype championship. They finished better. Much better. Best, in fact.
With Taylor, the team owner’s youngest son, behind the wheel for the final stint at Lime Rock, the No. 10 Corvette of WTR won the race and collected the final DP championship of the Grand-Am era of sports car racing.
To get the win, Taylor had to survive a restart with three minutes to go at the 1.7-mile Lime Rock road course.
Finishing second in the championship was the winner of the last three DP championships; Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas of Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi’s No. 01 BMW/Riley, which started from the back of the DP field after suffering an engine failure in qualifying, finished fourth in the race.
The final points margin between first and second was 13 points.
Finishing second in the race at Lime Rock was the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley, which was driven in the final stint by Gustavo Yacaman. The Shank car was co-driven by IndyCar full-timer Justin Wilson.
It was the final race in the 14-year history of the Rolex Series, which is merging with the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón and will debut as the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship beginning with the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Angelelli won the 2005 DP title co-driving with car owner Wayne Taylor. It was his fourth consecutive victory at Lime Rock Park, having won the three prior DP races with Taylor’s oldest son, Ricky. Saturday, Angelelli took his 26th career DP victory while helping Jordan become the youngest champion in DP history.
“It all came down to the team,” Jordan Taylor said. “Every time we won a race came down to the line, they got us out of the pits with great track position. All we had to do was keep everyone behind us.”
Yacaman finished the race second in the Michael Shank Racing’s No. 6 Aero/Tuvacol Ford/Riley started by Justin Wilson, followed by Pruett and Rojas, who were seeking their fourth straight championship.
“This is bittersweet,” Pruett said. “GRAND-AM’s been home for us for the last 10 years, and you hate to see it end – even though there’s a new beginning ahead. I enjoyed the last 10 years and everything we’ve achieved. At least no one can break our records.”
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates won its seventh DP team championship in 10 years and fourth in a row, finishing six points ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing.
Allessandro Balzan gave Ferrari the GT championship with a second-place finish at Lime Rock.
Clearing the way for the championship by the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa 458 Italia team was an early race wreck for the Magnus Racing Porsche GT3, which was points leader when the race began.
Winning the Lime Rock race was the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette. It was piloted in the final stint by Eric Curran.
“This is crazy for me, to get the championship in the first year for Scuderia Corsa, and in the last year of the Rolex Series, is really magical,” said Balzan, who won his first North American championship. “It was a wild race, but the car was so good and our strategy was good. But believe me, I never relaxed out there today. It was so hot, and so hard.”
In the Marsh Corvette, Lawson Aschenbach took over for usual co-driver Boris Said, who missed the race due to travel difficulties. It was the second victory for Marsh Racing of Old Lyme, Conn., which will move to the Prototype ranks in 2014 in a Corvette DP.
“Lawson and I are teammates on a regular basis in a Camaro in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge,” Curran said. “It was good to be driving with him here in the Corvette. To finish the season here at our home track, and then win in front of all our friends and family couldn’t be sweeter.”
John Edwards and co-driver Robin Liddell entered the event third in points in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Camaro GT.R and had a fourth-place run to finish third in both the Rolex Series GT team and driver standings.
Johannes van Overbeek and Jeff Westphal finished third in the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 entry.
Jim Norman won the first GX championship, taking his ninth consecutive second-place finish in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Calcium Pro Porsche Cayman co-driven by Spencer Pumpelly after opening the year with three victories.
Tom Long and Sylvain Tremblay took their fourth GX victory in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/ SpeedSource Mazda 6. SpeedSource and Mazda combined to win the final nine races of the season, but a hiccup in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona put the team in too deep of a hole.
“We ran hard in every single race,” Norman said. “BGB Motorsports is a small team, and we went out and beat the factory team. It was really an honor to race against Mazda – they’re a class act.”
The final official GRAND-AM function will be Monday’s Rolex Series Awards at Gotham Hall in New York City.No Comment