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We take a look at the Rolex Grand Am from Laguna Seca

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The final Rolex Grand Am season has one race to go and the Championship is going down to the wire with the Wayne Taylor Racing and Chip Ganassi Team fighting it out for DP glory while Magnus, Scuderia Corsa and Stevenson are fighting out for GT honours.  With just the one race to go, we’d thought we look back at the Rolex Grand Am from Laguna Seca Raceway.

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The Starworks #8 hit issues to finish some seven laps down but the #01 finished second – important in the Championship race

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The Aston Martin has been a welcome addition to the GT ranks and took a GT top-10 on debut

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It was a GT win for Magnus Racing as they fight for the GT title

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Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor took an important win at Laguna Seca to extend their slim Championship lead

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It was a tough race for Turner with issues forcing them to lose many laps

The race in brief

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 8, 2013) – Determined to break up the closest Daytona Prototype championship race in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series history, Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor combined to score a dominant victory in Sunday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival, powered by Mazda to extend their points lead with one race remaining in the season.

The top 10 drivers entered the race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca separated by only five points. Taylor and Angelelli will now go into the season finale at Lime Rock Park on Sept. 28 leading defending champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas by eight points, 304-296.

The race was a study of contrasts from their recent victory at Kansas Speedway, where Taylor held off Pruett’s repeated attempts over the final 35 minutes. Sunday, the pair dominated, leading 72 of the 105 laps in the two-hour, 45-minute race. While the final margin of victory for Taylor over Pruett was 2.692 seconds, the 22-year-old Floridian pulled away from Pruett and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Scott Dixon following a pair of restarts in the final 18 minutes.

“I definitely was under a lot more pressure at Kansas,” said Taylor, after scoring the fourth victory of the season in the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide/Toshiba Corvette DP. “Today we had a better car and we could control it from the front.

Pruett, co-driving the No. 01 Telcel/TELMEX BMW/Riley with Memo Rojas, moved from sixth to second in the championship standings after passing Dixon with two laps remaining. Dixon and fellow IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti took third in the No. 02 Cessna BMW/Riley.

“It’s close coming down to Lime Rock,” Pruett said. “The No. 10 car has a little breathing room, but hopefully we can turn around our luck at Lime Rock and have a good finish.

Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished fourth in the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Corvette DP, followed by Sebastien Bourdais and Emilio DiGuida in the No. 4 Venezuela Corvette DP. Of the other title contenders, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa finished seventh in the No. 5 Corvette DP, while Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow placed 13th in the No. 2 Starworks with Alex Popow BMW/Riley.

Fogarty and Gurney are third in the standings with 293 points, followed by Fittipaldi (291), Barbosa (289), and Popow and Dalziel, 284. Ganassi Racing leads the team standings over Wayne Taylor Racing, 315-304.

In GT, Andy Lally led the final 26 laps in the No. 44 Magnus Racing/Flex-Box Porsche GT3 started by John Potter, giving the team its first victory of the year and the lead in the class standings.

“This was the longest slump without a victory that I’ve had as a Rolex Series driver,” Lally said. “To win in a clutch moment in the penultimate round of the season was massive.”

Lally held off Billy Johnson, driving the No. 93 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 started by Michael Marcel, by .0940 seconds, while Eric Curran and Boris Said were third in the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette and Patrick Lindsey and Patrick Long fourth in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche GT3.

Alessandro Balzan entered the race with the GT class points lead and led 37 laps in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 started by Leh Keen, but finished fifth. Lally and Potter now lead Balzan by eight points (313-305), with John Edwards and Robin Liddell – who finished seventh in the No. 57 Stevenson Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro – another five points back

Tom Long and Sylvain Tremblay took their third GX victory in the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/SpeedSource Mazda 6 while Jim Norman scored his eighth consecutive second-place finish, co-driving with Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman. Norman now leads Joel Miller by 11 points in the GX standings. Miller’s car, started from the pole by Tristan Nunez, went to the garage for lengthy repairs on the parade lap and finished fourth more than 25 laps down.

The race saw the Rolex Series debut for both Aston Martin and Lotus. Brandon Davis and Darren Turner placed 10th in GT in the No. 66 Paypal/HP Aston Martin Vantage for TRG-AMR, while Scott Dollahite and Jeff Mosing took third in GX in the No. 11 Lotus Evora.

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Photos by Jim Fonseca, September 2013

Race recap by Grand Am PR

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