ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – It’s the simplest of mathematical formulas, certainly the most difficult scenario to actually see through to fruition, but brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and their No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP team for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) are certainly more than capable of holding up their end of the bargain. There is just no more margin for error.
Heading into the final three races of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the No. 10 Corvette DP duo finds itself 15 points out of first place in the driver and team standings after their latest victory last month at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario.
In order to hoist championship hardware for the second time in the last three seasons, the easiest path for the brothers Taylor is to run the table, combined with no better than a third-place average finish by the championship-leading No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP duo of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante.
Realistically, there is nothing easy about this path, but the boys from WTR have done it before – just two short years ago, when they found themselves 12 points in arrears of the championship lead with three races remaining but methodically swept the final three events at Kansas, Laguna Seca and Lime Rock and won the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series driver championship going away.
This year, a hopeful repeat performance of that championship run began with that hard-fought victory four weekends ago in Canada, and it continues with this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at the iconic Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The No. 10 Corvette DP established itself as a proven performer in its last four visits to the 4-mile, 14-turn road course located an hour’s drive north of Milwaukee but, after a solid podium finish in its first visit there in 2011, race days have proven to be problematic a bizarre assortment of bad luck led to finishes of seventh, seventh and 10th the past three seasons. Last year’s late-race steering system malfunction proved to be the most costly as the 10th-place finish dropped the brothers Taylor from within two to 16 points of the championship lead.
Heading to Elkhart Lake with the momentum of their huge win from the pole at the track formerly known as Mosport, the brothers Taylor and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP team have turned a blind eye to their recent past at Road America and are entirely confident they can finally score the team’s first win at one of the world’s most iconic road circuits come Sunday afternoon.
Practice for Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase begins Friday morning. Prototype-class qualifying is set for 5:50 p.m. EDT Saturday with a live IMSA TV stream at IMSA.com beginning at 4:35 p.m. The green flag flies at 3:05 p.m. Sunday for the two-hour, 40-minute race with live television provided by FOX Sports 1 beginning at 3 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA smartphone app.
RICKY TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
Despite the fact you and the team have had an excellent racecar at Road America year after year, the track has been particularly unkind of race days the past three seasons. How do you feel about heading back there this time, especially coming off a win?
“It’s definitely been a weird racetrack for us – kind of like Mid-Ohio, where were always fast but never had good results to show for it. All I can say is we’ve always had a fast car at Road America and I’m pretty confident things should finally work out well for us this year. Last year, we had the steering column issue that ruined things for us, and we’ve had freaky things happen in the years leading up to that. We’re certainly due for a good one at Road America.”
What effect do you expect the recent balance of performance adjustments to the Corvette DPs will have on the team this weekend?
“My gut feeling is the BoP adjustment isn’t going to be that big of a deal. The air intake restriction doesn’t seem to be incredibly huge, and the added weight should be manageable. But that’s just me. I’m the eternal optimist. I don’t know if it was 100-percent warranted because I think the Ford is pretty strong as things were. I think the Corvettes are winning so much because the teams are executing compared to everybody else.”
Your thoughts about heading to Road America after that big win up in Mosport?
“I always think of Road America as the Le Mans of North America. It has such long straights, a couple of fast corners, some serious braking zones – to me, it’s a better pure road-course-racing track than Mosport. It has more passing opportunities, more heavy brake zones. The track is bigger and more open, so there’s more room to pass, particularly the GT cars. The corner speeds are not as high as they are at Mosport, but the top speeds we reach at Road America are among the fastest we do all year.”
You’re now 15 points back in the championship with three races to go. How do you feel about your chances of winning it?
“We cut into the deficit a good little bit by winning at Mosport. But as far as the championship is concerned, we really have to rely on other people to make mistakes while we go out and take whatever risks are necessary to win. Like we did at Mosport, we can go to Road America and COTA and Road Atlanta and be aggressive and try and win all three. They should all be good tracks for us. They are definitely three of the best tracks, in terms of our performance, that we go to all season.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
Coming off the big win at Mosport, you’re now headed to Road America to try and keep the momentum going, but it’s been a track the team hasn’t had the best of luck in recent years. What is your mindset?
“I think every year we’ve gone to Road America, we’ve been in contention, at least for a top-three finish if not an outright win, but something always seemed to come up that held us back. Last year, it was a steering failure in the middle of the race, and two years ago it was a very untimely yellow and then Max (Angelelli, then co-driver) getting caught up by another car. We’ve always had a fast car at Road America and, this year, we’re even more competitive than years past, so it should be good for us this weekend.
The Corvette DPs were just hit with a balance of performance adjustment, with an added 10 kilograms of weight and a reduction in the engine air intake. How will that affect your team this weekend?
“We’re not exactly sure how all of that will shake out, and I haven’t had a conversation with our engine guys, yet. But anytime you they take something away from us, it’s going to hurt at least some, especially a track like Road America, where we have to go up hills and make our way down long, long straights. It’s all down to horsepower there, so taking away horsepower and adding weight will definitely hurt in those areas.”
Road America seems somewhat similar to Mosport, where you were victorious three weekends ago. How will that translate to this weekend?
“In some ways, Road America is similar to Mosport. It’s got more long straights and big braking zones. So, you definitely need straightline speed, but you also need pretty heavy downforce in the corners. Setup-wise, it’s more of a compromise track than Mosport, where it’s more about outright speed. In 2013, we were always making good aero decisions and we found a really good setup that year that worked well for us that year and last year. It’s definitely the one track where you can be a little more offset from the other cars, and you end up fighting for lap time in different areas of the track with different cars. With all four classes running at the same time, it makes it all very interesting.”
You shaved some precious points off the championship deficit with the Mosport win. It’s now down to 15 points with three races remaining. Does the championship still feel like it’s within reach, or is it out of your hands?
“It’s still very possible, mathematically. But, realistically, it’s still out of our hands. We went to Mosport just focusing on winning the race. We head into these last three races like we did in 2013, going for race wins and taking all the necessary risks. With only seven cars in our class, we’re not going to make up huge amounts of points at a time. All we can really focus on are the things we can control. Like Mosport, we’ll just have to go out with the mindset of winning these last three races and see where that puts us at the end.”
WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
Your overall thoughts as we head to Road America for this weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase?
“Obviously, with three races to go it’s all about the championship, win or go home. We came through at Mosport in a big way thanks to an absolutely total team effort. We had a fast racecar, but it was a combination of two focused drivers, flawless work in the pits, and a brilliant strategy call that put us over the top. I think, with that, we are very confident heading to Road America with nothing to lose. Ricky got the pole there three years ago, and we pretty much have had a fast car there every year since. Everybody is incredibly focused, perhaps even more so than usual, with another championship on the line. It’s an important race for our partners from Chevrolet, so we’ll be as motivated as ever to go out and do it again, like we did at Mosport.”
– TSC –
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine