Wayne Taylor Racing saw its chances of winning the 53rd annual Rolex 24 at Daytona dissipate in the final awnings of the race after a late pit stop error forced the team to settle for third place overall. Despite earning its third consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona podium, the American outfit left Daytona International Speedway speculating at what might have been.
The team’s fearsome-looking #10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP (driven by Jordan Taylor, Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli) had been locked in combat with the eventual race-winning #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford DP for much of the second half of the race, but an opportunity to convert their strong position into a win was snatched away in the final hour.
A late caution with 19 minutes to go handed Wayne Taylor Racing the perfect opportunity to close in on the leading #02 car of Scott Dixon. However, a misjudgement by the team meant that Jordan Taylor would drive through his maximum stint time of four hours if he continued to the chequered flag. Taylor was subsequently brought back into the pits for a rushed driver change for his brother Ricky, which in turn garnered a stop-go penalty since the change was completed on a closed pitlane. As a result, the crew had to settle for third place overall, behind the #02 machine and the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette.
“It was an unfortunate turn of events because we were right where we wanted to be – second place on the restart having a stronger car on cold tires, so it was a perfect opportunity to make something happen,” a clearly frustrated Jordan Taylor said. “I knew that with track position we could race with the 02 car, and that late yellow flag was our golden ticket and we just weren’t able to cash it in.”
Wayne Taylor Racing had entered the opening weekend of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship with high hopes following its impressive showing at the preceding Roar Before the 24 test. However, a speed sensor issue plagued the team in the days before the race, with Ricky Taylor only managing to qualify the car in seventh.
Even with the original issue under control, the #10 Konica Minolta Corvette struggled with persistent engine cut-outs in the first two hours of the race. After a software re-boot the team was back in the running, and having negotiated the rest of the Prototype field managed to hold its ground at the sharp end until the closing stages of the race.
“The result was pretty good, but the way it came about was a little bit disappointing,” Ricky Taylor commented. “We had such a strong car, the guys deserved to win this weekend. Coming back and fixing our issues and working through the night – more than one night – is just an incredible effort by all the guys. I just feel bad for them for all that work and, leading so many laps and running up front for so long, to come away with the last car on the lead lap is very disappointing.
Max Angelelli added, “I’m happy to be here in the top-three, especially since as late as Friday we weren’t even sure we would make the race with all sorts of problems. Our guys, our team worked all night and solved the problems and gave us a super, ultra-competitive car both Saturday and Sunday, in the heat and the cold. The car was good and we were competitive, all three of us. We fought like lions and we are now just looking forward to the next challenge, the next race.”
The ‘next challenge’ for the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing crew will be to build on their Daytona podium at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21. The team will be heading into the second round of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship in third place with 31 points.