Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor won the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype championship in emphatic fashion as the Wayne Taylor Racing teammates completed a hat-trick of wins to close out the Rolex Series era.
The decisive victory was also Angelelli and the team’s fourth consecutive victory at Lime Rock Park. They began the race eight points to the good in the championship and they rarely looked threatened during the two hour, 45-minute race at the short Connecticut track. Angelelli led briefly across the end of the first hour as the field cycled through green flag pitstops, but it was Taylor – at the end of his first full season in the Daytona Prototype class – who took the lead for good when Gustavo Yacaman pitted the #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley shortly before a caution period with an hour remaining.
Taylor led the DP runners into the pits under the yellow flag and then led them back out again for a final 47 minutes of racing. There was a late caution period when Pierre Kaffer stopped the #8 Starworks Motorsport car out on track but with a little help from the unwitting protection afforded by a lapped car in the middle of the pack was able to hold the lead ahead of Yacaman and Scott Pruett. Dane Cameron and Wayne Nonnamaker finished fourth in the polesitting Team Sahlens BMW-Riley. Cameron dominated the opening stint of the race, leading the first 57 laps.
Pruett, who with co-driver Memo Rojas, had started the race as Angelelli and Taylor’s closest rivals fell short of snatching the drivers title after fighting forward from a 14th place start. However, they did help the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team take the teams’ title.
The other combatants in the title fight fell by the wayside during the race. Starworks pairing Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow ended an anonymous race in seventh. Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi were forced to retire their Action Express Racing Corvette DP after an oil pressure problem shortly after Fittipaldi briefly ran off track while in second place. The Brazilian pitted shortly after and the team cleared out the radiators while Barbosa got into the car. However, Barbosa turned the car behind the pitwall only laps later with the problem that would prove terminal.
After starting third Jon Fogarty spun the #99 GAINSCO Racing Corvette DP down the order on the opening lap. Somehow as he slewed across the track obscured by a cloud of dust the rest of the DP entry, and the front most portion of the GT field avoided him. A full course caution period at the start of the second lap after a multi-car crash in the GT field allowed him to make up the time – though not the positions – lost and he led during the same exchange of green flag pitstops as Angelelli before falling back down the order with his own stop.
Their race, however, came to an end ten laps short of the checkered flag when Alex Gurney collected a spinning Spirit of Daytona Racing car at the turn five chicane.
The race for the GT championship was turned on its head at the start of lap two when points leader John Potter spun the Magnus Racing Porsche while trying to pass the TRG–AMR car of Richie Stanaway. Potter’s Porsche was then collected by Scott Dollahite in the GX class Lotus, tearing the front off the car. Potter and the car returned after an hour of repairs, but the points battle – by then – was between Alessandro Balzan and the Stevenson Motorsports drivers Robin Liddell and John Edwards.
With Potter and Lally out of contention Balzan stood to gain the title even when Edwards took the lead from polesitter Lawson Aschenbach once the race restarted on lap nine. Aschenbach would take the lead back before the hour mark and Leh Keen – starting the #63 Ferrari which Balzan would take over – pushed Edwards another place further back.
Once in the car Balzan would escape major damage and delay after contact with Jeff Segal in the #61 Ferrari that dropped the latter out of the lead group.
Edwards kept up the pressure until the end of the race, picking up fourth place when Patrick Long was involved the turn five incident with the SDR and GAINSCO Corvette DPs. However the Camaro remained a lap behind the lead trio, Balzan finishing second ahead of the sister Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Johannes van Overbeek and Jeff Westphal.
The victory, and in dominant fashion, went to Aschenbach and Eric Curran on home turf for their Marsh Racing team. The pair combined to lead 129 of the 162 laps completed by the GT class, only Edwards and Westphal able to loosen their grasp on the lead, the Ferrari driver leading nine laps during the pitstops.
Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long notched up a final GX class for the Mazda 6. BGB Motorsports Porsche driver Jim Norman, however, took the drivers title in the class his position confirmed once he completed the half hour stint necessary to claim points from the finale.