Konica Minolta Corvette DP Duo Returns to Another Track that Owes Them One for Saturday’s TUDOR Championship Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas
AUSTIN, Texas (Sept. 15, 2015) – The last time brothers and co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) headed to a racetrack that owed them one from the previous season, they emerged victorious.
That was just this past April, when they hit the streets of Long Beach, California after having had their car’s rear diffuser destroyed by repeated and unnecessary contact during the early laps of the 2014 Long Beach Grand Prix, costing a highly anticipated race win and relegating them to a disappointing runner-up finish. This year, the Taylors returned to virtually own the streets of Long Beach, qualifying on the pole and blazing to the win, leading 73 of 78 race laps along the way.
This weekend, the Taylors and the No. 10 Corvette DP head to the beautiful Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans, exactly one year removed from a disastrous turn of events at the current home of the United States Formula 1 Grand Prix that essentially ended all hopes of a second consecutive championship season.
Last year’s Lone Star Le Mans saw Ricky Taylor qualify on the front row and then roar into the lead at the drop of the green flag, only to have polesitter Gustavo Yacaman in the No. 42 OAK Racing LMP2 entry inflict heavy contact from behind in the very first turn of the race that sent Taylor to the pits for repairs that immediately dropped him off the lead lap. He and his brother, despite consistently turning the fastest laps throughout the remainder of the race, never could make it back to the front and could manage just a seventh-place finish. The contact inflicted on the No. 10 Corvette DP in the first turn of the race was also unnecessary and entirely avoidable, and ironically was at the hands of the very same driver who ruined a potential race-winning performance at Long Beach earlier in the season.
So, the Taylor brothers and the No. 10 Corvette DP team return to the Texas capital this weekend looking for the kind of dominating performance they enjoyed in their April return to Long Beach. They are certainly capable of taking charge of a race from start to finish, as they have done time and again in their careers. With this year’s hopes of a second championship in the last three seasons essentially out of reach after suspension issues relegated them to an eighth-place finish six weeks ago at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, it’s time to go out and have a little fun this weekend at one of the most spectacular racetracks in the world. And what more fun can there be than brining home victory number three of 2015?
Practice for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans begins Thursday morning. Prototype-class qualifying is set for 6 p.m. EDT Friday with a live IMSA TV stream at IMSA.com beginning at 4:45 p.m. The green flag flies at 12:35 p.m. Saturday for the two-hour, 40-minute race with live television provided by FOX Sports 2 beginning at 12:30 p.m. The race will be rebroadcast in its entirety at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on FOX Sports 1. 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:
Your overall thoughts heading back to Circuit of the Americas this weekend?
“Last year, we had one of the best racecars we had all year in the actual race. What happened at the beginning was unfortunate. But then, as I remember the rest of my stint, we passed every car on track except for the leader, so we couldn’t get back on the lead lap. When Jordan was in the car, we got our lap back but unfortunately didn’t get enough yellows to bunch us up again and let us go racing for the win. Otherwise, the car was awesome. Now we’re back to the normal road-course tire, not the Daytona tire like we used at the last race. So we should go in with more usable knowledge. Using that Daytona tire at the last race turned out to be a great unknown and the weekend turned out to be a huge struggle. So we went from having a really good car at Road America the previous year to struggling through the weekend this year. There should be none of that at COTA this weekend.”
What do you like, in particular, about racing at COTA?
“It’s really cool driving at COTA. The esses are good fun. The beginning of the lap is fast and flowing. As much as we love going there, it’s the opposite of a track like Watkins Glen, which is fast, narrow, and you can’t pass in many places. At COTA, can go a mile off the road and not hit anything. It’s very safe and you can afford to make mistakes. I think that bunches up the field because everybody is pushing and you don’t feel like you’re taking any chances.”
Does it feel strange to already be eliminated, for all intents and purposes, from the championship?
“It really is disappointing to not be part of such an exciting points race. The other three Corvettes are up there separated by just two points. And the most disappointing thing is I honestly feel like we’re the best team and we’re not competing for it. We’ve still got another year with the DPs next year and I know we won’t make any of the same mistakes we did this year, so we’ll just try and win out these last two races and start 2016 with some huge momentum.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
Your overall thoughts heading back to Circuit of the Americas this weekend?
“I’m really looking forward to it, as always. Last year, we had a really fast car. Ricky qualified second and we got hit at the start and we went to the back, but I do remember Ricky passing everybody but the first-place car that would have gotten our lap back. Going back this time, we should be decent, and with it being a two-hour and 40-minute race, strategy comes into play and that’s what we’re best at.”
What was it about the racecar that enabled you to be fastest during the race last year?
“Last year was the first year with all the added downforce from previous years. Throughout the year in 2014, we were continually developing the car and learning the ins and outs of the new rules package. COTA turned out to be where we really hit it solid. This year, we go back to COTA with the added knowledge of what we’ve learned this year, so I expect us to be even better than we were there last year.”
Any lingering thoughts about what happened in the very first turn of the race there last year?
“It’s essentially a sprint race for us but, at the same time, it’s still two hours and 40 minutes long. You’re not going to win the race in the first corner. Some guys are really aggressive in the beginning of races, like turn one of lap one. Sometimes it works for them, sometimes it turns into a big mess. Last year, somebody else’s aggressiveness turned into a huge mess for us. We hope to have a clean two-hour, 40-minute race this time, like most of our races have seemed to be this year – mostly green all the way. Everybody seems to be a lot calmer and racing a lot more cleanly this year.”
WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
It’s time for the annual visit to Circuit of the Americas. What is on your mind as the team heads to Austin, once again?
“We certainly like racing at Circuit of the Americas. The drivers and teams all like the track because it’s a very fun, creative circuit and the facilities are among the best in the world. We have loads of Konica Minolta execs coming this weekend, which always makes us feel good to be racing with them watching in-person. It’s a great event, a great city, a great facility. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to win the championship at this point, so we can go there and be under no pressure other than to try and win the race, and that’ll be our total strategy for the weekend. As always, we are thankful to be racing for Chevrolet even though we are not in the thick of the championship, so we will simply do everything we can to bring them another win this weekend.”
– TSC –
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine