Last weekend Brett from Fuel Injected Photography was sent to Lime Rock Park to cover the GRAND-AM Championship Weekend presented by BMW. After an eventful weekend which included a spotting the Ferrari P4/5 we were able to put the following together.
The final race of the Lime Rock Park season was won by Ricky Taylor who emerged from an extended one-on-one battle all the way to the checkered flag with Antonio Garcia to win the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series Championship with co-driver Max Angelelli. The result kept SunTrust Racing’s perfect Lime Rock Park win record intact, the team has won every race at the track since the Daytona Prototypes first staged a race at the 1.53-mile road course in 2010.
Garcia and his pole-winning co-driver Richard Westbrook finished second as Spirit of Daytona celebrated a fourth podium appearance to close out a fantastic breakthrough season. A seventh place finish for Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett was all the duo needed to secure their third consecutive GRAND-AM Championship.
In Rolex GT competition, John Edwards and Robin Liddell combined for a win in the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GTR after Andy Lally suffered late race disappointment for the second day in a row as he was forced to pit for fuel with all of two minutes remaining in the race. Finishing second was the APR Motorsport Audi R8 of Jim Norman and Dion von Moltke as the No. 51 brought Audi its debut appearance on the Rolex Series podium since the brand first joined the Rolex Series for the full 2012 campaign. Rounding out an international podium in the GT ranks was the No. 63 Ferrari 458 of Johannes van Overbeek and teammate Allessandro Balzan as the duo locked up the Manufacturer Championship for Ferrari as the famed marque made a deep impression in its first season of Rolex competition.
The final restart on lap 138 set the stage for the shootout. A hungry pack of DP’s fought for positions as there was still a lot to play for in the championship standings. But it was the Corvette train of Taylor and Garcia that? gapped the field. Taylor, who suffered from some uncharacteristic errors earlier in the year, drove a flawless race as he fended off Garcia’s advances to bring SunTrust their 21st Rolex Series win.
“I’m shaking,” said Taylor, who with Angelelli led 92 of the 167 laps. “I don’t think I took a full breath for the last 45 minutes. It was completely flat out every lap and everybody was clean. Our car was amazing. I just can’t thank the whole SunTrust/ Toshiba team enough. Thank you to everyone involved with this Corvette, I’m so happy to represent them and I can’t wait until next year.”
“I started to catch him and I had good momentum and was working him quite hard because he didn’t have the tires under him,” said Garcia. “But after the safety car, he was fast again, and he did a great job defending and with the traffic so I have to say congrats– he did a great job.”
“For sure I knew he was very close (on fuel) and we were expecting to have a stumble,” said Liddell, who won the 2011 LRP race with Stevenson. “I just kept pushing as hard as I could. We had a great scrap. We were slightly quicker I think at the end when he was saving fuel or whether we were just better on the tires. It was a hard race. John (Edwards) did a great job with limited practice – he qualified the car on pole. Stevenson Motorsports and Chevrolet with the Camaro, absolutely brilliant flawless season for these guys. They’ve done such a great job.”
After the 2011 Rolex visit to Lime Rock Park netted but one caution flag, the Ganassi group altered their normal strategy to make sure they would have a clear path to the championship as Pruett opened the race before turning it over to Rojas, who turned the controls back over to Pruett to take to the finish.
“It’s great to be at Lime Rock Park and great to be champions,” offered Pruett. “I’m happy for the whole Ganassi organization. This was really an incredibly difficult and challenging season. Today we changed it up, this is a difficult track and we wanted to keep both drivers fresh. I couldn’t be happier to get this championship won–we had to dig deep and the season really brought this team to a whole new level. I enjoyed the challenge and it brought us together as a team.”
The race also confirmed the Manufacturers Championship for Chevrolet after Corvettes won eight of the 13 races, and solidified the Chassis Manufacturers Championship for Riley Technologies. Alex Popow added yet another title to his remarkable 2012 season as he won the 2012 Jim Trueman Award, with Emil Assentato locking in the Akin Award to go with his Rolex GT Class Championship.
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