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GM Racing: First And Third For GTO.R In Mexico City
Saturday, 04 March 2006

Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins Pilot Their Production-Based #64 TRG GTO.R To Its First 2006 Rolex Series Win; Teammates Marc Bunting, Andy Lally and R. J. Valentine Take Third

MEXICO CITY - Mirroring its win here last year, the #64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R took first place in the GT class of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series today, the first Pontiac road racing win of the season. The GTO.R of Paul Edwards and Kelly Collins, which started the race on the pole position, fell back to fourth in the second lap and managed to regain the lead on lap 56, holding its position for the remainder of the 100-lap race. This is the car's second win here at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez - Edwards won here last year with Jan Magnussen.

"We played the strategy great today," said Kelly Collins. "The guys in the pits kept us out during the yellow until we got the wave-bye, which was lucky for us as I really thought we only had a second- or third-place car today. There was a lot of craziness in traffic and the track got really greasy early on, but it's nice to get my first win in the Pontiac with TRG and iRise."

Andy Lally, Marc Bunting and R. J. Valentine, teammates of Collins and Edwards, also had success today as they took third place in their #65 Pontiac GTO.R. Lally drove the car across the finish line behind the #80 Porsche GT3 Cup of Leh Keen and David Murry and the team took the GT class points lead (the trio finished second with Corvette C6.R driver Johnny O'Connell at last month's Rolex 24 At Daytona).

With only four full-course cautions, the race was relatively trouble free and the #4 Howard-Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype of Andy Wallace and Butch Leitzinger managed a fourth-place finish despite trouble they were having. An uncooperative cockpit door (it refused to latch and had to be taped shut) hindered Wallace in his final laps but he managed to hold his position and finish behind the #6 Lexus. Had the team not had issues with the door, they most likely would have ended up on the podium. Their car was the highest-finishing Daytona Prototype Pontiac so far this season (Pontiac DPs have been weighed down with competition adjustments since winning 10 of 14 races last season).

"The car was really, really good," said Wallace. "The setup worked great, but with the door flapping in the high speed corners, that really hurt us. The whole BOSS Snowplow Team did a great job and nobody in the crew panicked. We had a terrible start to our weekend with electrical problems on the first day, but the team kept working hard. I'm very happy to be up there (fourth) for Pontiac as well."

Spurred on by cheers from the numerous fans, the #12 Lowe's Fernandez Pontiac Riley of Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld was the next-highest finishing Pontiac in seventh (Fernandez hails from Mexico City and the team was a crowd favorite). Another popular team, the #10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli - last year's team and driver champions - finished ninth due to a stop-and-go penalty assessed to Angelelli late in the race and also to illness on the part of Taylor, who could barely drive his stint.

"I think the virus that Max had in Italy earlier this week and that some people have got here is what I got," said Taylor. "I was absolutely gone. I was really lame. There was no way I thought I could do the race. But I rested, had an IV and got some medication and was able at least to do my stint."

First place in the DP class was taken by the #01 Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz, with the #76 Ford Riley of Colin Braun and Joerg Bergmeister and the #6 Lexus Riley of Mike Borkowski and Paul Tracy in second and third, respectively.

The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series resumes racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 25. The event will be televised the same day on SPEED TV at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
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