Wayne Taylor Racing: Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Preview

Sep. 28, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas – Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and their fellow IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors this weekend head to the Circuit of the Americas just outside the Texas state capital, a breathtakingly beautiful facility that is the current home to Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix.

The state-of-the-art facility on the outskirts of Austin is a place the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP team for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) took to from the very first time it negotiated its pristine but technically challenging 3.4-mile, 20-turn road circuit in 2013. In each of its previous three visits, the WTR team proved to be arguably the fastest Corvette DP on the racetrack but simply wasn’t able to leave with the ultimate result to show for it. Last year’s runner-up finish at Circuit of the Americas for the Taylor brothers was the team’s cleanest effort there from start to finish after the team’s first two visits in 2013 and 2014 were promising but were plagued by bad luck.

This weekend, the Taylor brothers are focused more than ever on delivering what they consider a long-overdue first win at Circuit of the Americas for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP. Not only would it serve as redemption for potential race-winning efforts that were ruined by a late-race penalty in 2013 and an opening-lap impact from behind while leading in 2014, it also would serve to set up a season-ending charge for the championship two weeks hence at the Petit Le Mans endurance marathon at Road Atlanta.

After their podium finish at the previous round six weekends ago at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, the Taylor brothers find themselves in third place in the championship, 11 points behind the leading No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, and 10 points behind the second-place No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron. With only eight Prototype-class entries for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans, the chances to cut the deficit by a significant margin depend on a race win for the Taylor brothers and finishes of sixth or worse for both Action Express entries.

That would send the title contenders to the season finale at Road Atlanta on even terms, and the Taylor brothers and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP team fully plans to hold up its end of the scenario by driving all the way to victory lane.

Practice for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans begins Thursday morning with Prototype-class qualifying set for 6 p.m. EDT Friday with live video provided by IMSA.tv. The green flag flies at 12:35 p.m. Saturday for the two-hour, 40-minute race with FS2 providing live television coverage beginning at 12:30 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 overall thoughts as we head to Circuit of the Americas for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans?

“It is always great racing at COTA. We only have two races to go and need to get back into the championship this weekend. Our car is always very competitive, so we just need to execute this weekend to get our third win of the season. It is definitely difficult coming out of a long break, but it is a good opportunity to catch the others unprepared. I feel everyone is in the same boat and everyone will be feeling a little bit rusty, so the better we can show up and the faster we can get on our game, hopefully that can give us a slight edge.”
 

You’re 11 points behind the championship lead and 10 points behind second place. What is it going to take to have a shot at catching them?

“It is a very difficult situation but, with a good race at COTA, anything can happen at Petit Le Mans considering there will be more cars in the field and more points available to be gained. Last year at COTA was a good race and we were a clear second to Ganassi, where their engine package really suited the situation. I feel that, mechanically, our car has always been the best at that racetrack and we can hope to expect the same again this year. This year’s race will be hot as it was last year, so we might see some teams split the drive

time more evenly to keep drivers fresh. Getting through traffic and executing on the last pit stop will be very important, as usual, to get track position in the last stint. The track is a lot of fun to drive, but it will be interesting to see if track limits will be enforced, or if race control will open it up as they did last year. The most technical portion of the track is the esses after turn one, where they are very fast and flowing. You must pick up a good turn-in reference for the first blind apex, then be sure to get around the back of the curb to not get behind with the racing line through the following sequence of corners. It is a very fast portion of the track but requires patience and sacrifice to get it right.”

 

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

 

Your overall thoughts as we head to Circuit of the Americas for Saturday’s Lone Star Le Mans?

“It’s been a long break. It’s almost felt like a mini offseason, so I’m excited to get back to the racetrack. We’ve kept busy, though, with some work on and off track. We had a long summer stretch where the guys were very busy, so I think it was good to get somewhat of a break from the racetrack. It’s definitely easier to jump in the car week after week and be up to speed and comfortable right away. These long breaks can be tough and you can get out of the groove a little bit. Thankfully, I’ve had my SimCraft at home to be able to turn laps and get prepared for the race weekend.”

 

You’re 11 points behind the championship lead and 10 points behind second place. What is it going to take to have a shot at catching them?

“We definitely still have a shot at this championship. If we win this weekend and the championship leader finishes seventh, it’s all tied up again. Anything can happen in these races. We had the strongest Corvette at COTA last year. The only car quicker than us was the Ganassi car. So I think, going back this year, we should have a good shot at competing for the win. There are some new cars this year that have shown speed, so it should be interesting. It seems all of the races this year have gone similarly. I’m sure when we get down to it at the end, it’s going to be a big battle between all the usual suspects. COTA is one of the coolest tracks and facilities that we go to. It is the most technical track on our schedule. You have high-speed and low-speed corners, long straights, and elevation changes, so you have a bit of everything. It’s tricky for a driver, but also for the engineer to figure out what sort of compromise you want with the setup of the car.”

 

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

 

You’re back on track this weekend after a five-week hiatus. What is on your mind as the team heads to Austin?

“Our biggest focus is to go out and try to win these last two races. That’s really all that is under our control. We’re 11 and 10 points behind first and second place in the championship with just two races to go and, with not very many cars entered this weekend, the chances of making up huge chunks of the deficits aren’t the greatest, unless bad things happen to those two teams ahead of us and we are fortunate to win or finish on the podium. We love Circuit of the Americas. It’s an excellent facility in every way. And it’s going to be exciting to watch Ricky race with the Larbre team in the WEC race. It all adds up to be a fun race weekend. We’ll have a huge sponsor presence with Konica Minolta and DLL. We’ll try to put together the perfect weekend on the racetrack for them.”

– TSC –

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