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Three Takeaways: Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic

Quenching That Winning Thirst, Roar of the Dinosaur and Skill on Display


By Jeff Olson


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sight unseen, fast yet narrow, with bumps designed to loosen molars. Detroit’s downtown street circuit, new to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, revived one team’s winning ways and established another’s.


Here’s a few things we took away from an action-packed return to the Motor City.


The Drought Has Ended


As NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider interviewed Filipe Albuquerque while teammate Ricky Taylor led the late laps of the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic on Saturday, the subject of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti’s last win – August 2022 at Road America – was raised.


“I don’t need to remind you that it’s been two years,” Snider said. “How desperately does this team need a good result and even a win?”


“It’s not two years,” Albuquerque replied with a grin. “One year and a half. I’ve been counting, trust me.”


Actually, it was somewhere in between Snider’s and Albuquerque’s assessments, it being 664 days – nearly one year and 10 months – between victories.


Regardless, with 26 minutes remaining in the 100-minute race, Taylor steered the No. 10 WTRAndretti Acura ARX-06 inside Mathieu Jaminet’s No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 into the Turn 3 hairpin, carefully avoiding contact and eventually ending the No. 10’s run of 14 straight races without a victory.


An odd streak for a team that has taken the championship battle into the final race the previous two seasons; odder still was the backdrop. In the first race for the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class on the downtown Detroit circuit, the No. 10 car started fourth. Not ideal when passing zones are few.


“With how important track position is here, we didn’t think we had a chance, really,” Taylor said.


Instead, they did.


“We know how to win,” Albuquerque said. “Obviously, we’ve been a bit more nervous than usual, but I think the hardest is the beginning. Let’s hope we break the spell now.”


Rexy Is More Than Just a Clever Livery


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Initially, the bright green, toothy car called Rexy sought and received attention. Now, with consecutive victories, it’s seeking a championship to go with the recognition.


Rexy, AO Racing’s No. 77 Porsche 911 GT3 R co-driven by Seb Priaulx and Laurin Heinrich, won for the second time in 20 days, expanding its lead in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) championship points standings.


Afterward, team principal Gunnar Jeannette thanked fans of the popular tyrannosaurus rex car for their support. Especially after Heinrich had to nurse home a wounded T-Rex after the Porsche was caught in the aftermath of the collision between the race-leading GTD PRO cars about halfway through the race.


“We had a really damaged car there, and all of your thoughts and prayers and ‘be strong, Rexy’ messages just mean so much to us,” Jeannette said on a post to social media. “We can’t thank you enough.”


From Disarray Comes Accuracy


For sports car drivers, racing on a street circuit is like playing tennis in a blender. What normally is fast and graceful is altered by its surroundings, squeezed and confined into a smaller space and time. Somebody is bound to look foolish, and things are bound to be broken.


Yes, mistakes were aplenty Saturday. But from them emerged some exceptionally skillful driving.


Taylor’s overtake of Jaminet – and Jaminet’s avoidance of contact – was brilliantly precise. They weren’t alone. The top two finishers in GTD PRO – Heinrich in the No. 77 and Ben Barnicoat in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 – expertly brought home damaged cars.


Doing so required adaptation.


“I had to enter really slow into the corner and have a good drive out, hoping to not crash into the wall,” Heinrich said. “Every restart it became more difficult because the pressures go lower.”


Blender aside, a few aces were served.