Top-Five Finish at The Glen for Konica Minolta

Early Penalty for Running a Red Light Proves Costly for Angelelli, Taylor Brothers,
But They Still Leave Annual Midyear Endurance Classic with Tudor Series Points Lead

Date: June 29, 2014
Event: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen (Round 6 of 11)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (3.4-mile, 11-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 6th / 5th (Running, completed 190 of 191 laps)
Winner: Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante of Spirit of Daytona Racing (Corvette DP)

Leaving the always grueling Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen with a top-five finish and the series points lead should be cause for celebration more often than not.

But for brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and their part-time co-driver Max “The Ax” Angelelli, Sunday’s fifth-place result in the annual midyear endurance classic at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International only leaves them and their No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype teammates from Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) wondering what might have been, even though they head to the next event still leading the Prototype-class standings.

This year’s six-hour marathon on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen road circuit turned out to be over for the Konica Minolta Corvette DP team not long after the two-hour mark, and it was all because somebody ran a red light.

The veteran Italian Angelelli, who joined the Taylor brothers for this third of four events in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship within a championship, pitted during the day’s second of four caution periods shortly after the two-hour mark to top off the tank of the No. 10 Corvette. Quick work by the WTR crew sent Angelelli back out on track in third place. But series officials notified the team that a red light was illuminated at the exit to pit road, meaning all cars were required to stop there. Angelelli never saw the red light. Never even looked for it. Never stopped. The penalty was to be a stop-and-go plus 60-second hold in the penalty box to be served under green-flag conditions.

“I did not even look for any kind of red light because there has always been a person standing there with a red flag whenever the pit exit was closed,” said Angelelli, who co-drove with Ricky Taylor to a thoroughly dominating victory in this event three years ago. “For 10 years of racing with this team, there was always a person there with a flag, but apparently they changed that. Nobody told me it had changed and to look for a red light. That’s very unfortunate because it hurt us today.”

Angelelli served the penalty on lap 72 of today’s 191-lap race, at the two-hour, 25-minute mark. He resumed in sixth place but fell off the lead lap, which at the time did not cause any great concern with more than three hours and 30 minutes to go. One timely caution would enable the No. 10 team to get waved around the pace car and get back on the lead lap.

But it was not meant to be on this day as three solid hours passed before the next yellow flag flew from the starter’s stand, with only 25 minutes to go in the race. Jordan Taylor was behind the wheel at the time, sitting in fifth place but still a lap down. The race went back to green with just less than 12 minutes remaining and Taylor was mere car lengths behind the race-leading No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP with an eye on unlapping himself. But an accident involving two prototypes brought out the yellow less than a lap later and all that was left was a one-lap dash to the finish once the race went back to green with less than 30 seconds remaining.

“It was not a great day,” said Jordan Taylor, who was seeking his first career Watkins Glen victory in his 10th career start at the track. “My job really didn’t impact anything at all. I was basically just doing laps out there when we were a lap down. We got close to getting it back at the end there. But we needed a yellow much earlier than that, but it never came. It was kind of out of our hands after that. The car was good enough for the podium and to fight for the win on the last restart to battle with the leaders. But, for how it ended up, I think it was the best points scenario for us with the order the top-three cars finished in. So we can’t be too disappointed and just move on to Mosport.”

Older brother Ricky Taylor, who followed up his and Angelelli’s 2011 Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen win with another dominating victory in that year’s August sprint race, qualified sixth late Saturday and got things off to a highly encouraging start this morning.

The 24-year-old Taylor picked off three positions on the opening lap with some heads-up driving and kept the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette in third place until the day’s first round of scheduled pit stops on lap 25, 43 minutes into the race. He led one lap as the leaders cycled through the pits and resumed in fifth place. He worked his way back into the top-three at the one-hour, 20-minute mark on lap 46. Thirteen minutes later, at the one-hour, 33-minute mark, Taylor pitted a second time to hand the car over to Angelelli, who resumed in fourth place.

“We had a great car – a podium car, for sure – but the penalty just killed us,” Ricky Taylor said. “I could see a stop-and-go for running the red light, but a stop-plus-60 seconds is just crazy. If we would have just had a stop-and-go, we would have at least had a chance to race at the end and control our own destiny. The penalty just ended our race today. We spent the rest of the day just trying to get back on the lead lap, but that turned out to be impossible with no yellows until it was too late. It was just a harsh penalty. That’s the main thing. I know one thing, that’ll never happen to us again.”

The fifth-place finish, coupled with the third-place finish by Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP, narrowed WTR’s lead from seven points to three atop the Tudor series standings. Westbrook and Valiante went on to win today’s race in their No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, beating the runner-up No. 42 OAK Racing Nissan Morgan LMP2 car of the pole-winning Alex Brundle, Gustavo Yacaman and HoPin Tung. WTR started the day just two points behind the No. 5 Action Express team in the North American Endurance Cup but saw that deficit widen to six points with today’s results. The Endurance Cup concludes with the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October.

“It really was a frustrating day,” said team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove to a pair of sprint-race victories at The Glen with Angelelli en route to the 2005 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship. “The penalty just killed our race. We didn’t have the best car in qualifying. And then Brian (Pillar) and the engineers did a great job to give us a much-improved car in the morning warm-up. We thought we had a good car in the race. We showed in the race that we could help set the pace. But getting a stop plus 60 seconds – that’s huge – and adding there were no cautions until it was too late in the race to help get us that lap back was very frustrating. But we’re still ahead in the championship, although not by as much. So we’ll just have to work harder and keep from making mistakes.”

Next up for the 2014 Tudor United SportsCar Championship is the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix Sunday, July 13 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. FOX Sports 1 will carry the live television broadcast of the two-hour, 45-minute race beginning at 2 p.m. EDT.