Daytona 24: Season opener race report

Taylor, Angelelli and Collard Win 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 1, 2005) -- In a race billed as having one of the greatest collections of international racing superstars, it was a trio of sports car aces that came out ...

Daytona 24: Season opener race report

Taylor, Angelelli and Collard Win 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 1, 2005) -- In a race billed as having one of the greatest collections of international racing superstars, it was a trio of sports car aces that came out on top in the 43rd Rolex 24 At Daytona, as co-drivers Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli and Emmanuel Collard brought their No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley home to victory in the twice-around-the-clock race.

While the No. 10 led a race-high 282 of the 710 laps run, the race featured a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series-record 43 lead changes among eight different cars and 16 different drivers.

As the race approached daybreak, it as the No. 20 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Andy Wallace, Jan Lammers and NASCAR champion Tony Stewart that had the upper hand. The No. 10 machine had made contact with another car just after the 16-hour mark, prompting a lengthy stay on pit road and giving the No. 20 a three-lap lead.

"It was very difficult for me, because we were leading the race," Collard said. "We were fast. To get these kinds of problems was difficult, because it cost us three laps. I thought the race was not finished, but nearly, because the 20 car was very fast, also, they were very close to us. But then we came back after that. We had good strategy, the team did a very good job, and we came back."

The No. 10 team kept up the fight despite the setback, and with 19-and-a-half hours remaining, it had returned to the lead lap with the No. 20 machine. Over the next two hours, the No. 10 and No. 20 cars swapped the lead several times, and it appeared that the stage was set for another thrilling Daytona Prototype battle. However, the race's decisive moment came with slightly more than two hours remaining, when a broken gear on the No. 20 machine, left a large hole in the car's gearbox and removed the car from contention for the victory.

With the No. 20 team's misfortune, Angelelli was able to cruise the rest of the way en route to a victory by 11 laps over the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Butch Leitzinger, Elliott Forbes-Robinson and NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson. It was the No. 10 team's second consecutive Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series victory at Daytona International Speedway, as Angelelli and Taylor also won the Paul Revere 250 presented by Brumos Porsche last July.

"Actually, I bought all the catalog of Rolex, each one of them, but I never bought this one," Angelelli said "This is the one I wanted to win. It's been long, but I made it, it's finally here. Now, I'm going to add this to my collection, finally, on top."

For Taylor, the car owner and co-driver, it was his second overall Rolex 24 At Daytona victory, following a triumph in 1996. It also topped an amazing return to racing for Taylor, who hails from nearby Altamonte Springs, Fla. and had retired from sports car competition before being lured back to the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype competition last year.

"I think to win this race for the second time is certainly the highlight of my career," Taylor said. "I think when I won my first Rolex 24 in 1996, I said to everybody that I got more attention than winning the World Sports Car championship or winning races all over the place. That was truly the greatest. It was a great event to win, the win lasted for a year, and this one is even better. The standard of the competition was so much higher. There were 15 cars that could have won this race on pure speed, not on retirements and so on. So this was really a good one to win. Especially being my home town, and SunTrust's home base, it couldn't be better."

The second-place run for the No. 4 team capped a terrific comeback. While the car ran comfortably within the top-five positions and appeared to be a solid contender for the race victory through the first 14 hours, the car encountered a mechanical problem in the 15th hour that forced the team 17 laps down to the leader. The team made up six of those laps by the finish.

"It's really a tough race to finish with a good running car," Forbes-Robinson said. "I've had (problems) happen before when I was running with Dyson in the Porsche where we ran all night very, very hard trying to make up the time. It's kind of fun in one way. You just have to run hard the whole time. You're not just setting a pace. You're having to run hard to try to make up time to get back into it. I really didn't think we had a shot at it because there's a lot of good cars and a lot of good drivers out there. I'm surprised we ended back up on the box."

Likewise, the No. 20 team persevered despite their disappointment and returned to competition after a lengthy stay in the garage area. The team was rewarded for its efforts with a third-place result, making it the second consecutive year that Wallace and Stewart would finish third in the Daytona Prototype class at the Rolex 24.

"I could feel the difference from last year to this year as far as intensity and pace," Stewart said. "Everybody seemed to be flat out and everybody was running a pretty strong pace all day. It was fun, it made for a fun race. You didn't' feel like you were out just riding around. You were giving it 98 or 99 percent the whole time. It's just so much fun to come here and be in a situation that's totally different than have all year to know that you got to share the same car with two other guys. "

Coming home in fourth place, 12 laps behind the winner, was the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Stefan Johansson, Cort Wagner and NASCAR's Jamie McMurray, while two-time overall Rolex 24 winner Didier Theys and co-drivers Fabrizio Gollin and Matteo Bobbi came home fifth in the No. 77 Doran Racing Lexus Doran, 13 laps behind.

Several would-be contenders for the overall victory fell by the wayside with various mechanical issues. The No. 03 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of IRL IndyCar Series stars Scott Dixon and Darren Manning and NASCAR driver Casey Mears asserted itself as a top contender well into the second half of the race and was leading the race in the 16th hour when brake difficulties forced Dixon into the garage area for lengthy repairs. The car wound up sixth.

After starting from the pole position, the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett, Luis Diaz and Ryan Briscoe encountered its first mechanical issue within the race's first 100 minutes, and by the three-hour mark, the 2004 Daytona Prototype championship team's hopes for an overall victory were all but dashed. However, while the No. 01 was never a factor past Lap 49, the team kept battling and was rewarded with a seventh-place result.

The No. 58 Red Bull Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar of David Donohue, Darren Law, Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen came home in the eighth position, followed by the No. 44 Doran Racing Pontiac Doran of NASCAR champions Bobby and Terry Labonte, IndyCar star Bryan Herta and sports car standout Jan Magnussen in ninth. For the first time since 1988, the top-nine finishers were all prototype cars, with the first GT car--the No. 71 Farnbacher Racing Porsche GT3 Cup--finishing in 10th place.

Elsewhere, it was a tough outing for the No. 49 Crown Royal Ford Multimatic quartet of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth, NEXTEL Cup driver Greg Biffle and Canadian Scott Maxwell, as their car encountered four CV-joint failures during the race. The car finally gave out 45 minutes from the finish and wound up 29th overall.

The No. 2 CITGO Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford of Milka Duno, Dan Wheldon and Dario and Marino Franchitti was in a position to battle for the lead and the victory well into the early morning hours. However, Duno and the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup got together and crashed at the pit entrance just past the 18-hour mark, ending both teams' bids for class and overall victories. The No. 2 team was credited with 33rd place overall.

The 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona overall-winning No. 54 Kodak EasyShare Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran in the hands of Ralf Kelleners, Christian Fittipaldi, 2003 Daytona Prototype champion Terry Borcheller and Champ Car star Paul Tracy, encountered brake bias problems prior to the start of the race and fell out of the running before the halfway point in the race. The No. 54 team finished 49th overall.

It was also a difficult race for the No. 79 Pixar/Newman Racing Ford Crawford team of Oscar-winning actor Paul Newman, Michael Brockman, and Champ Car champions Sebastien Bourdais and Cristiano da Matta. The car was involved in several spins and off-course excursions, and was never a factor in the race. The team retired with mechanical problems in 51st place overall.


After starting from the class pole position for its Rolex Series debut, the No. 71 Farnbacher Racing USA Porsche GT3 Cup team of Wolf Henzler, Dominik Farnbacher, Shawn Price and Pierre Ehret had a spectacular weekend in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, taking a three-lap GT class victory over the No. 37 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup team of Mike Fitzgerald, Manuel Matos, Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi.

"The whole race was pretty phenomenal, I couldn't believe we won," Farnbacher said. "You cannot describe it. It is beautiful to win here at Daytona. It's the greatest longest distance race in America. I still cannot believe it. I am going to give my watch to my father because he made it possible for me to be here."

The Farnbacher team faced down stiff challenges throughout the event from several GT teams, including the No. 00 Aussie Assault team of Paul Morris, Marcus Ambrose, Craig Baird and John Teulan; the No. 36 TPC Racing Porsche GT3 Cup team of Randy Pobst, Michael Levitas, Spencer Pumpelly, John Littlechild and Jean-Francois Dumoulin; and the No. 61 TRG East Porsche GT3 Cup group of Robert Nearn, Dave Lacey, David Shep, Greg Wilkins and Mark Wilkins among many others. The No. 71 finished 10th overall, 46 laps behind the race-winning No. 10 team.

The No. 61 team came home third in the GT class, five laps behind the class winner, followed by the No. 73 Baldwin-Tafel Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Jack Baldwin, Jim Tafel, Craig Stanton, Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis in fourth place. Filling out the top five in GT was the No. 65 Auto Gallery/TRG team of Andy Lally, Marc Bunting, Kevin Buckler, Carlos de Quesada and Hugh Plumb.

Elsewhere in GT, 16-year-olds Colin Braun, Adrian Carrio and Braun Coleman acquitted themselves well in their first Rolex 24 At Daytona, as they came home seventh in class and 17th overall in the No. 16 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup they shared with veteran racer and driver coach Ross Bentley.

For the second-straight year, it was a disappointing outing for the 2004 Rolex Series GT championship-winning BMW Team PTG in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Both the No. 21 BMW M3 driven by Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand, Ian James and Chris Gleason, and the No. 22 BMW M3 of Justin Marks, RJ Valentine, Tom Milner and Kelly Collins had recurring problems with broken right rear wheel studs, and as a result the team withdrew both cars from competition prior to the halfway point.


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