Wayne Taylor Racing: 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona Preview

Jan. 27, 2016

 

MAX ANGELELLI, RICKY & JORDAN TAYLOR

Konica Minolta Corvette DP Trio Looks To Score the Final Rolex 24 Victory For Iconic Daytona Prototype Chassis as Curtain Rises on 2016 IMSA Campaign

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Jan. 26, 2016) – It will be the beginning of the end of an historic era in sports car racing when the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) driving trio of veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli and brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor join their fellow IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors for the 54th running of the traditional season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance marathon.

The 2016 season marks the 14th and final run for the iconic Daytona Prototype chassis, which was introduced in 2003 and has crossed the finish line first in every Rolex 24 since 2004 but will be retired at season’s end as the series introduces a new prototype formula beginning in 2017.

The 2004 season was when Angelelli and three-time sports car racing champion Wayne Taylor began campaigning the No. 10 Daytona Prototype in their first of three highly successful seasons as SunTrust Racing prior to the formation of WTR in 2007, and the car-and-driver combination of the elder Taylor, Angelelli and the brothers Taylor have been among the most celebrated Daytona Prototype efforts in history.

In the 150 races contested during the past 12 seasons, the Taylors and Angelelli have accounted for 30 victories, 77 podium finishes and 95 top-fives, and qualified on the pole 27 times. Those are numbers surpassed only by the Daytona Prototypes of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, whose totals include 42 victories in that time. The impressive run for the Taylors and Angelelli is highlighted by a pair of championship seasons, the first in 2005 that was kicked off with a dominating Rolex 24 win by Angelelli, Wayne Taylor and Frenchman Emmanuel Collard and the other by Angelelli and Jordan Taylor in 2013.

This weekend, Angelelli and the Taylor brothers would like nothing better than to score the victory in the Daytona Prototype’s last appearance on the 3.56-mile, 13-turn Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course. If their on-track performance in the last three Rolex 24s is any indication, they should be right in the thick of the battle come Sunday afternoon. The team scored back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014 and was running second heading into a restart during the closing laps of last year’s race when it was discovered a maximum drive time rule was violated by just a matter of minutes. Despite leading a race-high 265 laps and sitting in prime position to overtake the race leader with 10 minutes to go, the team crossed the finish line third after an unscheduled pit stop for a driver change. Five days later, the team was placed 16th because of its drive time violation.

It was a difficult pill to swallow at the time, but Angelelli and the Taylor brothers and the rest of the WTR team are as confident as ever that this will be their year to return to the top spot on the podium at America’s most iconic endurance race.

Practice for this weekend’s 54th annual Rolex 24 begins Thursday morning with prototype-class qualifying set for 5:15 p.m. EST with a live video stream at IMSA.com beginning at 4 p.m. The green flag flies at 2:40 p.m. Saturday for the 24-hour endurance classic with television coverage as follows: FS1 from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday; FS2 from 4 to 10 p.m.; live IMSA TV stream at IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app from 10 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday; FS1 from 7 to 10:30 a.m.; FS2 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; FS1 from 1 to 3 p.m. Prototype-class qualifying is set for 5:15 p.m. Thursday with live video via IMSA TV from 4 to 5:30 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:

Your thoughts about starting the new season after a fairly eventful 2015 campaign?

“Last year was very disappointing as we had very high hopes of a good championship. I think the team did some very good projects over the winter to make our car even better than last. Jordan and I have been training hard and I think the whole team is targeting a Rolex 24 win and winning the championship. Those are our obvious goals, we just need to put all of the pieces in place and perform on race weekends. The team performed well last year. It’s just that everyone makes mistakes and I feel that the mistakes are out of our system. I have a lot of confidence in our pit stops – the guys have been very strong. I am also confident that our car will be very competitive and we will be fighting for race wins each and every weekend.” 

You had a very strong Roar Before the 24 test weekend. How do you expect that to translate into your performance this weekend, and also in light of the fact you had arguably the strongest car in the race last year only to have to give up a chance at the race win due to a technicality?

“Our car is always competitive at Daytona and the performance at the Roar proved that this year should be very similar. The P2 cars seem quite strong but I believe the combination of our car performance, pit stops and driver lineup will give us an advantage compared to those teams. Otherwise, the car was good at the Roar. We managed to work through our test plan and I believe we will be even stronger in the race. We learned some good things at the test that we can apply to the racecar to make our car stronger and more durable for the 24 hours. As for what happened last year at the 24-hour, I don’t have really any thoughts. Everyone realized what happened after it happened and the team has taken measures to make sure it never happens again.”

The numbers are starting to add up as far as how many Rolex 24s you’ve all driven. This will be Max’s 15th, and it will be the ninth for both you and Jordan. How much of a factor and a benefit is experience when it comes to doing well at this race?

“I think it’s a huge factor. Realizing the frustrations that take place during a 24-hour and not rushing into taking any extra risks is a major advantage toward finishing these races. But these days, every team has the top sports car drivers from around the world, so we cannot count that as an advantage compared to them. We can consider that no team in the field has as good of a working relationship between teammates as we do, and that is an advantage that really helps in long races.”

You’re kicking off the final season for the venerable Daytona Prototype platform. Any special thoughts on that?

“The Daytona Prototype means a lot to our whole family. Firstly, it is the car that Jordan and I made our names driving in sports car racing. It was also the platform on which our family has made a living over the last 12 years, and the platform for my dad to be able to form his own racing team, which has been one of the highlights of his career. Apart from those highlights, the DP is just a great car to drive. It is very raw and has to be driven hard. The quality of the racing over the years was some of the most exciting racing over the years and definitely the most exciting racing I had ever been involved with. Racing with 30 prototypes in the field was really a special thing. I’ll miss racing them but, hopefully, the DPi can bring us as many highlights as the DP.”

 

JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:

Your thoughts about starting the new season after a fairly eventful 2015 campaign?

 “I think I can speak for everyone when I say we’re ready to be back at the track and competing. It seemed like a very long offseason, especially because we didn’t do any testing. Our goal is the same as every year – win as many races as possible and win the championship. We’re in a good position, we had a strong car all last year and should have been in championship contention if it wasn’t for our own mistakes. So I think we can head into 2016 a lot of confidence in ourselves. Otherwise, not a lot has changed and I think that’s an important thing in our sport. We have the same car, same drivers, and almost the entire same group of engineers and crew. We all know each other, we know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, so we just have to use that to our advantage.”

You had a very strong Roar Before the 24 test weekend. How do you expect that to translate into your performance this weekend, and also in light of the fact you had arguably the strongest car in the race last year only to have to give up a chance at the race win due to a technicality?

“I think we had a good test. We usually get caught up with working on something new with the car at the Roar. This year, going back with the exact car from last year, we could focus on working on getting more performance out of the car. Every year we go to Daytona, we go with a shot to win it. We’ve finished second twice and a third in the past three years, so there is no reason we shouldn’t be battling for the win at the race again this year. Everyone is strong in this race this year, but we just have to focus on what we have because that’s all we can control. And when it comes down to the battling for the race win at the end, I’m sure it’s safe to say that what happened to us last year will never happen again with our team.” 

The numbers are starting to add up as far as how many Rolex 24s you’ve all driven. This will be Max’s 15th, and it will be the ninth for both you and Ricky. How much of a factor and a benefit is experience when it comes to doing well at this race?

“I think experience is always big in whatever you’re doing. Daytona is a unique event. It’s not like Le Mans or Sebring or Petit (Le Mans). I think it adds to our strength as a team to have the continuity and experience both in the car and outside the car.” 

You’re kicking off the final season for the venerable Daytona Prototype platform. Any special thoughts on that?

“The DP is still my favorite car that I’ve ever driven. It may not be the most technologically advanced car but, as a driver, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a car. Most of my success in racing has come in this car, with the championship in 2013 and winning Petit Le Mans in 2014. I’m definitely going to miss it next year, but I think everyone agrees it’s time to move on. We’ve finished second twice at the Rolex, so it would be nice to win the last Rolex 24 that a DP competes in.”

 

MAX ANGELELLI, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:

Your thoughts about starting the new season after a fairly eventful 2015 campaign?

“It’s a new year and a new Rolex 24, so obviously we go there with new feelings. Time has passed and it’s like a new chapter in our history. This year is a little different than in the past because this is the final year for our Daytona Prototypes as we know them. It’s a big piece of history that will see an end this year. For me, I don’t want to forget it, so I will take full enjoyment driving the car this weekend and this season because these kinds of cars made my life in racing and a lot of things have been built around this business model for me, for Wayne and our partners and our series.”

After being arguably the dominant car in last year’s race only to have a potential race win vanish because of a technicality, does any of what happened weigh on your mind?

“Daytona is the kind of race where, when you end up with the kind of result we had last year, it takes a very long time to heal because the intensity of the race and the energy you put in for so long – all kinds of energy, from financial to mental to physical – is so high, when you end up like that, it takes a long time to heal. I’ve experienced those kinds of results in the past, so it was not the first time, so for me, maybe it was a little bit easier to get over, but it was still tough to swallow. After that race, I can tell you the team reacted immediately. This year, we are fully assisted by the software that our engineers have written and not only that, but have also a human check every time we change drivers. So, between the engineers and the systems that have been put into place, this is the first thing they will check and make sure we are right every step of the way. As for the race, I know we are going to be hard to beat as a team, a car, as drivers. At Daytona, we always seem to be good. The others will have to sweat a lot to beat us.”

The numbers are starting to add up as far as how many Rolex 24s you’ve all driven. This will be your 15th, and it will be the ninth for both Ricky and Jordan. How much of a factor and a benefit is experience when it comes to doing well at this race?

“Experience is everything. Some teams appreciate experience, others don’t care. But, at the end of the day, the ones in the top three are always experienced teams. But experience is certainly not a waiver if you don’t do all the right during the race. If you make a mistake, it will cost you whether you have experience or not. But experience does show you how to overcome mistakes and hopefully to keep from making mistakes to begin with.”

 

WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:

Your overall thoughts as we head to Daytona to open the 2016 season?

“Well, for me, personally, this year marks 20 years since I won my first 24-hour in 1996. Now 20 years later, I’m owning the team and having both my boys and Max driving for me, so that is very exciting. We had a good car at the test two weekends ago. Not sure where we are as far as BoP (Balance of Performance), but we have to believe they know what they’re doing. The race will ultimately dictate whether they’ve gotten it right. I’m excited because we have so many Konica Minolta people coming and we want to put on another good show for them. It’s our home race for me and my family, and I know how much Max and the boys love this race. It’s the end of an era as far as everyone seeing the Daytona Prototype for the last time at the 24-hour, so it would certainly be nice to win the last 24-hour in the DP. We’ll have to be spot on because there are so many great teams and great drivers all throughout the field, ours included. Ganassi’s always the team to beat They have an awesome lineup with the (No.) 02 car and I rate (Scott) Dixon as one of the best drivers around. It’ll be quite strange seeing Scott Pruett not with them. I don’t know how that happened, but whatever the case, it’s going to be an exciting race. It’s always a really big deal, we’re putting forth a big effort, I’m focused, the guys are focused, the weather looks like it’s going to be great, I really can’t wait.”

Any particular thoughts on this being the final season for the DP chassis and what that means to you?

“This is my 10th year as a DP team owner and, we ran the SunTrust Racing program for the three seasons before that, and looking at our statistics, I think we are one of the most successful teams out there. The only team with more DP wins is Ganassi. With teams like that, I’m always been in awe of teams like Ganassi and Penske, and if they’re better than us, that’s not too bad. If we’re right there with them, like we have been, safe to say we’ve done a great job. Otherwise, it is a sad time, really, because certainly the business model for us since we started our DP program in 2004 has worked very well for all of us. As for where we’re headed, we’re not sure how it’s going to work moving forward with the new regulations and all, so we’ll have to put a concerted effort into winning a championship this season, although I’m excited to get to 2017, too.”

 

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