Taylor, Angelelli take second straight GRAND-AM victory

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Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli were able to extend their championship lead in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series’ Daytona Prototype class after Taylor once again held on in the closing laps to win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Last time out at Kansas Speedway, Taylor fended off a late-race attack from multi-time sports car champion Scott Pruett to win. This time, he was able to keep both Pruett and IndyCar champion Scott Dixon in his rear view mirror after a restart with four minutes left on the clock.

“It definitely fazed me,” Taylor said after his duel with Dixon. “Dixon, Franchitti, Pruett – all of these guys are legends in my mind. I’ve grown up looking up to them, and they’re still my heroes, so I was definitely under the pressure.

“But I knew that if I could hold them off, I could be in a good position for the points. And it couldn’t have been a better points day.”

Indeed, Taylor and Angelelli have put their No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette ahead by eight points over Pruett and Memo Rojas (No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley) in the DP category going into the final race of the season later this month at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

Two of the teams involved in the DP battle ran into issues today on the Monterey Peninsula.

With 90 minutes to go, the Starworks No. 2 BMW/Riley of Ryan Dalziel (co-driver Alex Popow) was hit with a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for avoidable contact. But then Dalziel was penalized a second time for speeding on pit road. The penalties relegated Dalziel and Popow to a 13th place finish.

Also, Joao Barbosa locked up the tires while heading for his pit stall with 1 hour, 13 minutes to go and brushed against the inside pit wall, which led to a lengthy stop for the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette crew. Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi would recover for a seventh-place result.

In GT, Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally and John Potter finally claimed their first victory of 2013 at a most opportune time and re-claimed the class points lead they lost in Kansas. Down one point to Alessandro Balzan going into today, the Lally/Potter combo now has an eight-point edge over the Ferrari pilot heading for Lime Rock.

“That last full course yellow was horrible,” said Lally, who closed in the No. 44 Magnus Porsche. “My heart went up in my throat, and I knew it was going to happen.

“I tell you, though, this Porsche-engineered car did a great job – We knew we were going to burn the tires off, so we couldn’t go at ‘em on pace. We just conserved and we did it on fuel. That got us the position.”

Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long (No. 70 Speedsource Mazda 6) earned their third win of the year in the GX class.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.