DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 6, 2007) – The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley lineup of Max Angelelli, Wayne Taylor, Jeff Gordon and Jan Magnussen executed their game plan in workmanlike fashion at this weekend's three-day test for the Jan. 27-28 Rolex 24 at Daytona, finishing four of the eight track sessions atop the speed charts and bringing home the best lap of the weekend among the 63 car-and-driver combinations that took to the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit.
Angelelli, who co-drove the SunTrust Racing machine with Taylor to a Rolex 24 victory in 2005 enroute to that year's Grand-Am Rolex Series championship, turned a fast lap of 1 minute, 43.483 seconds (an average of 123.552 mph) Saturday morning that set the pace for all competitors here this weekend. The Italian had previously clocked fastest session times during Thursday's morning and late-afternoon sessions, and Friday's afternoon session. He shared seat time throughout the weekend with Taylor, who this season adds the responsibilities of team owner to his role as driver for the newly formed Wayne Taylor Racing organization, as well as veteran Formula One, Champ Car and sports car racer Magnussen, and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Gordon. They alternated positions at the top of the speed charts with the fellow Daytona Prototype-class entries from the Sigalsport BMW team, the defending-race-champion Ganassi Racing Lexus team, and the SAMAX Pontiac team.
"It's been a successful three days of testing, but we know that our work has only begun," Taylor said. "We do leave Daytona with bragging rights, but as far as we're concerned, they only apply to this weekend. What matters most is where you are when the checkered flag falls on Sunday (Jan. 28). But the results here this weekend are a great payback for everyone in the SunTrust Racing organization who's donated the last three months of their lives to this program. It's rewarding to see that all the hard work and dedication has not gone in vain. It's also a great motivator for everyone to try and keep this momentum going all the way through Rolex 24 weekend.
"From what we saw this weekend, the race promises to be one of the most memorable in history. My feelings are that the Grand-Am has done a great job with parity. There seem to be 15 or 20 cars that are capable of winning this race. Bearing all of that in mind, the most economical way to go fastest in this series is to put the likes of an Angelelli or a Magnussen or a Gurney in the driver's seat.
"As for Jeff (Gordon), he did another great job for two solid days and I think he left here feeling very confident about coming back and contributing to a really strong race effort."
Angelelli, Gordon and Magnussen echoed Taylor's sentiments with regard to the SunTrust team's preparation since the formation of Wayne Taylor Racing last fall, and its overall excellence here this weekend.
"It was a very successful weekend for the SunTrust team and we leave here with a combination that makes us really excited for the race," Angelelli said. "We got all of our drivers plenty of time in the car, and we had a very nice confirmation from Jeff (Gordon) that what we saw from him at Homestead was another very talented driver for our team. We still have a lot of work to do after everything we learned this weekend. But, overall, everyone on the SunTrust team can feel good about the results we showed here this weekend."
"Overall, I think things are headed in the right direction," Gordon said. "You always feel like you can use more seat time as a driver, but I think we got a lot of quality time this weekend and I'm quickly getting a good feel for the car. I got a chance to drive at night, which I've never done before in a car with headlights. I didn't get a chance to drive in the rain, but we'll deal with that if and when we need to come race weekend. There are a few sections of the track I need to work on, but there will be time for that. One of the more difficult things is getting used to all the traffic, and that's important because you can either gain or lose a lot of ground on any given lap. That's something I'll get more and more used to as we go along. All in all, I'm really happy with the chance to drive for the SunTrust team. I'm having a lot of fun, but I'm here for much more than that. I really believe this is a team that can bring home a win."
"I'll have to say I'm very happy with everything," said Magnussen, who flew in from his native Denmark in time to drive briefly during Friday's night session, then the entire final practice Saturday. "I got to work on some long runs and it took very little time to feel comfortable in this car on this track. Now, it's just a matter of making slight improvements and fine-tuning various things so we can come back on race weekend and pick up where we left off."
Magnussen co-drove with Angelelli in the SunTrust car at six events in 2006, scoring a victory at Laguna Seca and capturing the team's first pole position at Infineon Raceway.
Rolex 24 at Daytona race weekend commences with practice and qualifying on Thursday, Jan. 25. Race time is 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 27, with the FOX network carrying the opening 90 minutes of the race live, and SPEED-TV providing periodic coverage through race's end.
SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of June 30, 2006, SunTrust had total assets of $181.1 billion and total deposits of $124.9 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides credit cards, mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is http://www.suntrust.com/.