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GRAND-AM: Lime Rock - Wayne Taylor Racing, Scuderia Corsa take final championships

The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series took its final bow after 14 years of competition at 2013’s season closer at Lime Rock Park. Daytona Prototype teams entered the weekend with 5 still in contention for the championship, Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor (Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP) having an 8-point lead over Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett in the Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley. Angelelli and Taylor came into Lime Rock having never lost there and with two consecutive 2013 victories under their belts, while Rojas and Pruett had the past three consecutive Rolex championships.

In GT, Andy Lally and John Potter (Magnus Racing Porsche GT3) held a 4-point lead over Alessandro Balzan (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458), with John Edwards and Robin Liddell (Stevenson Motorsports Camaro) another 7 points back.

Dane Cameron (Team Sahlen BMW Riley) started on pole with Christian Fittipaldi (Action Express Corvette DP) next to him. John Fogarty spun the Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP trying to move through the ranks in the first series of corners, but didn’t hit anything and remained in competition.

John Potter’s GT championship hopes closed less than 3 min into the race following a mult-car collision. Potter made contact with the TRG Aston Martin driven by Richie Stanaway, spun, stopped across the track, received heavy front end contact from the GX-class Lotus Exige, with the Turner Motorsports BMW M3 driven by Paul Dalla Lana also collected.

Cameron and Fittipaldi remained one-two when the green flag waved again at just under 2hr 32 min left in the race, followed by Justin Wilson (Mike Shank Racing Corvette DP) and Taylor. Lawson Aschenbach (Marsh Racing Corvette), Edwards, and Leh Keen (Balzan’s co-driver) ran first through third in GT. Edwards passed Aschenbach for the lead at 2:30 to go.

Aschenbach retook the lead in traffic at 2:10, with Keen closing on Edwards from third. Cameron remained in the overall lead, 6.5 sec ahead of Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi left the track with 2 hr to go, with Wilson moving into P2, and pitted the next time past entry. The pit crew took accumulated grass and dirt out of all the air openings, with Joao Barbosa taking over behind the wheel for Fittipaldi.

In the meantime, Keen’s Scuderia Corsa teammate Jeff Westphal moved into third in GT. Barbosa pitted one lap later, with the car’s engine letting go on pit lane, retiring both it and Action Express’ championship hopes. Westphal moved into GT P2 at 1:51, with Keen once again pressuring Edwards, now for third. Keen took the spot at 1:49:30.

Cameron pitted from the lead with Wayne Nonnamaker taking over. The GT leading Corvette also pitted as Edwards went off course after locking the brakes going into Turn 1. Westphal and Keen ran 1-2 in their Ferraris. Edwards pitted at 1:47 after completing the nearly full lap to get back to the pits, with Robin Liddell getting behind the wheel.

Angelelli pitted from the overall lead with 1:44 to go, Taylor taking over as driver. Liddell reported having had multiple contacts with Fogarty prior to his brake issues during a pit-lane interview. Gustavo Yacamam, having changed in for Wilson, ran in the overall lead at 1:37, with Eric Curran in for Aschenbach at the GT point.

Taylor ran third with 1:30 to go, with Nonnamaker between he and Yacaman. A finish of fourth or better would clinch the championship for Taylor and Angelelli. Curran was in front of a second Stevenson Camaro piloted by Jan Magnussen for the GT lead, with Balzan in third. Liddell ran P8, down one lap.

Taylor moved into overall P2 near the 1:21 mark. Pruett ran in sixth.

Taylor ended up taking the win ahead of Yacaman in second and Pruett third. The victory sealed the season championship for Wayne Taylor Racing with Ganassi’s P3 securing second place in the standings. Curran took the checkered flag in GT, 4 sec ahead of Balzan. But Balazan’s second place finish was enough to bring him the season championhip. Lally and Potter finshed second in the season standings, followed by Edwards and Liddell.

The first race of the newly crafted United SportsCar Championship – combining GRAND-AM’s Rolex Series and the American Le Mans Series --  will be the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona.

Posted in: Sports
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