Four-Time IMSA Champion Eyes Going Out a Winner before Rejoining Family Team in 2024
By John Oreovicz
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jordan Taylor has won 33 IMSA races and four championships, in prototype and Grand Touring (GT) classes.
He said the most recent – a GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class triumph achieved with co-driver Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD on Aug. 27 in the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway – was “one of the most special wins I’ll ever have.”
There were several reasons Taylor reached that conclusion. For one, he called the win “a classic Corvette Racing victory,” noting that the team derived a strategy that allowed him and Garcia to steal the trophy from the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 shared by Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth.
“We didn’t have the fastest car,” Taylor noted. “Antonio was able to stay in contention in that first stint, and we made some gains on fuel savings in that first stint to get closer to the Lexus for when I was in the car. In that last pit cycle, the guys made an amazing call on the short fill to get that track position. They gave me a fuel number to hit to get to the end, and it was my job to save that amount and not lose any lap time. We nailed it.”
Making News Off the Racetrack
But Taylor’s overarching emotion that hot August day was gratitude. Earlier in the week, it had been revealed that Taylor would not be part of the reorganized Corvette effort in 2024, when the legendary American sports car will be fielded in customer GT3 programs by private GTD and GTD PRO teams instead of a single, works-supported effort.
Taylor will instead return “home” to Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport, which will expand from one to two Acura ARX-06 cars in 2024 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s top Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category.
At age 32, the move represents a brave career change for Taylor, who had developed close ties within the Corvette team, throughout General Motors and with the fervent Corvette fan base. Since teaming with Garcia in 2020, they’ve combined for 12 race wins and back-to-back championships in the final two years of the Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) class in 2020 and ’21.
Ultimately, however, the opportunity to return to prototypes at a works level with the team founded by his father – successful sports car racer Wayne Taylor – was too good to pass up, especially when Michael Andretti’s renowned organization known primarily for its IndyCar success became a partner with the Wayne Taylor team at the beginning of this year.
“It was a difficult decision,” Jordan Taylor said. “The conversations started a while ago, back when the conversations started between Wayne Taylor Racing and Andretti about joining those teams together. I was asked if there was a second car, would I want to come back someday. I said it depended on the situation, and when that kind of all came through and there was a (confirmed) second car and they came back to me, it was a super-difficult decision.
“I was open with Corvette Racing, and they were aware of all my talking with Wayne Taylor Racing and with Andretti and where my thoughts stood,” he continued. “I always had their support as well, and that meant a lot to me. But going back to the family team … I grew up around a lot of those guys. Many of them have been there since I was a kid, before I even raced, so a lot of them are like family and friends and it will be exciting to go back.”
Reunited with Ricky, but in Different Cars
Jordan was with Wayne Taylor Racing when he won his first major sports car championship in 2013, in the Daytona Prototype class during the final season of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. He remained with WTR through 2019, winning the 2017 WeatherTech Championship’s Prototype class title co-driving with his brother, Ricky, his elder by two years.
Ricky Taylor, winner of 31 races, left the family team following that 2017 championship to spend three successful seasons with Team Penske and the then-new Acura Daytona Prototype international (DPi) program. He teamed with Helio Castroneves to capture the 2020 DPi title before returning to WTR in 2021, by which time Jordan had embarked on his stint with Corvette Racing.
Both of Wayne’s sons will be back under the family umbrella in 2024 but will not be teamed together. Ricky will continue in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 teamed with Filipe Albuquerque. Jordan will team with Louis Deletraz, the current endurance driver in the No. 10, in the second WTRAndretti Acura with number and sponsors to be announced.
“Obviously, I’m not going to be in Ricky’s car, like we were in the past,” Jordan said. “But I think it will be a lot of fun to be in a second car there. It’s something that the team has always wanted to do over the years, something that my dad has talked about ever since he’s owned a team.
“Back in 2013, we raced against each other when I was at Wayne Taylor Racing and he was at Spirit of Daytona,” Jordan continued. “We were young and definitely unproven. We hadn’t won much at all; we were both still trying to prove ourselves. The first time we kind of met on track was at COTA (Circuit of The Americas in Austin) that year, and we just raced each other so aggressively – it was just way over the top!
“But since then, we’ve both made our careers and won championships and races, so I feel we can approach it in a much different way. It is a unique situation.”
Jordan is certainly counting on his brother’s help adapting to the sophisticated Acura ARX-06 and the hybrid technology that is a hallmark of the GTP class. He joked that he understood virtually nothing in a 30-page document he was sent to study about the many functions on the Acura’s steering wheel.
“There’s going to be a lot to understand, but I think it’s a very, very fun part of the new challenge,” he said. “Looking back on the DPi, even compared to what we had in GTLM and the GTD PRO car, the DPi seems like old tech. It was so basic; there wasn’t much you could do inside the car from a technical point of view, but nowadays in GTP it seems like they are making adjustments on the steering wheel corner by corner and lap by lap all throughout a race. It seems super complicated, so I’m excited, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous at the same time.
“It’s nice to have a couple months after Petit Le Mans to start studying that stuff,” he added. “Start talking with the engineers and those guys that are developing that stuff on the tech side, and talking with Ricky and Filipe and Louis about what they feel when they turn this knob, what it does technically and what it does from a driver perspective or what it feels like to get an understanding of all those little details.”
Still One More Race to Run with Corvette
While Taylor is excited to get to grips with the Acura GTP car, as he noted, he and Garcia still have a final race together with Corvette Racing. And believe it or not, the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is an event that Garcia cannot yet count among his 29 career IMSA race wins. Jordan has won the famed season finale twice, in 2014 and ’18 driving for WTR.
Since the announcement was made of his impending move, Taylor has been treasuring his time with the Corvette Racing crew. He’s also taken time to reflect on his relationship with the Corvette fan base.
“Each weekend since the announcement, different situations at the racetrack have been emotional,” Taylor related. “From laughing with the guys in the pits or in the garage, or just little memories we’ve been making are special. These guys are such good friends of mine now, and it’s like a difficult breakup where you’re kind of separating, but you want to stay friends after the breakup. It’s a little complicated. I’d never want to race against these guys. They’re some of the best guys I’ve ever worked with, and I can call a lot of them really good friends.
“But I think the most special part of this whole process has been the response of the Corvette Racing fans,” he continued. “I mean, every time I see someone with a Corvette hat or shirt at an autograph session, or just walking through the track, a lot of them have stopped me, not to say they’re sad I was leaving or disappointed, but just to express their appreciation. It’s all, ‘Thank you what you’ve done for the brand, we’ve loved watching you in Corvettes.’ That stuff just makes me feel so good and emotional and sad and all that. I’ll always be a Corvette guy at heart. I hope in the next couple years with WTR, those Corvette fans keep coming by and talking and hanging out.”
You can bet that once he gets to Michelin Raceway in a couple weeks, Taylor’s focus on his final run for Corvette will be sharp. He and Garcia rank second in the GTD PRO standings, 188 points behind Hawksworth and Barnicoat, so a third championship for the Corvette duo is highly unlikely. Winning Motul Petit Le Mans, though, would help Taylor punctuate his Corvette years with a final exclamation point.
“I really hope we can go out with a win,” he said. “It would be an amazing sendoff. Obviously winning at VIR the week after the announcement was super special. That was emotional, to kind of leave on a high after that weekend.
“Petit is a big one on our list. It’s the one race that Antonio has never won, so for our last race together this year, it would be amazing to get that win. I think from everybody’s point of view, we’re putting a lot of focus and attention on it.”
Flag-to-flag coverage of Motul Petit Le Mans streams live on Peacock starting at 11:35 a.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 14. USA Network joins in at 6:30 p.m. through the race conclusion.