After Winning the Longest Race of the Year, the Wayne Taylor Racing Duo Goes for One of the Shortest
By Godwin Kelly
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wayne Taylor Racing opened the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship winning the longest race of the season. Now, the team hopes to continue its standings-leading success by capturing one of the shortest events.
The No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi, wheeled by Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, has enjoyed two victories in three outings this year, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, where they were joined by Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves.
Castroneves went on to make history by becoming the first driver to win the Rolex 24 and Indianapolis 500 in the same year. His Indy win on May 30 was the record-tying fourth of his illustrious career.
“I was happy for him,” said Albuquerque, who attended the race and watched from an Indianapolis Motor Speedway suite.
Castroneves and Taylor shared the 2020 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) championship as teammates at Team Penske and became fast friends after co-driving the Acura for three seasons.
“That was the most I sweated watching a race before,” Taylor said of the Indy 500. “That was unbelievable.”
The joy for their Rolex 24 teammate aside, the Wayne Taylor Racing duo is taking its act to the tight and bumpy Raceway at Belle Isle Park street course in Detroit for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic – a timed event covering a blink-of-the-eye 100 minutes. Taylor has three wins on this temporary circuit – all with his father’s team in prototypes and all coming with younger brother Jordan Taylor as his teammate.
“It’s a street course,” said Albuquerque. “It’s old-school bumpy. It’s the flattest track in America. It’s very demanding on the driver.”
WTR boasts four Detroit wins (2013, ’14, ’16, ’17), which is a home track to General Motors. The Taylor team expects the three, high-powered Cadillac DPi entries to be decidedly motivated to capture the top of this podium. It’s a switch from three weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where Taylor and Albuquerque won on their manufacturer’s home track in the aptly named Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S.
“We are on the away field this weekend,” said Taylor. “This is GM country and they will have their Cadillacs there, and they are always strong at Detroit. We come in with the points lead, but 55 points with the new (points) structure is slim, especially this early in the championship.”
“Those Cadillacs are very competitive cars,” Albuquerque added. “I drove there before with that car. We are so close to each other, anyone can win.”
Since the course is so tight and the race so short, Ricky Taylor said WTR will put additional emphasis on qualifying.
“I think it’s the single-most-important 15 minutes of the whole weekend,” he said.
Once the grid has been established, there is little room for error in the race. Even a flawless run does not guarantee victory.
“It’s very unforgiving,” Taylor said. “Strategy is so important because there are only two pit stops. There are a million little things that can go wrong. Being such a short race opens up the strategy more. You can try more things to gain track position, or just hang on for the end. For us drivers, it’s really an unforgiving track in terms of the walls. There’s very little room for error.”
“The intensity of this race will be higher,” Albuquerque said. “Kissing the walls without damaging the car. Thank God this race is shorter than 24 hours.”
The two-day event features practices at 8 a.m. and noon ET Friday, ahead of qualifying the same day at 3:30 p.m. (live stream on IMSA.com). The race airs live at 5 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN and IMSA Radio (available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius/XM (Sirius 219, XM 202, Internet 992).