Date: Aug. 6, 2017
Event: Continental Tire Road Race Showcase (Round 8 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin (4.048-mile, 14-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 1st / 2nd (Running, completed 71 of 71 laps)
Winner: Johannes van Overbeek and Luis Felipe Derani of Tequila Patron ESM (Nissan DPi)
Point Standing: 1st (258 points, 26 ahead of second)
A runner-up finish for brothers and co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase went a long way toward bringing their IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title hopes into sharp focus.
Despite a whirlwind start to the season in which they swept the opening five events in dominating fashion, back-to-back disastrous results thanks to on-track incidents served to halt the incredible momentum they had built and left the rest of the competition feeling hopeful of catching them in the standings.
But this weekend, the Taylor brothers and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team returned to business as usual with Ricky Taylor qualifying on the pole in track-record time, then combined with his brother to lead the opening 51 laps of today’s 71-lap event around the scenic 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In fact, Sunday got off to a start eerily reminiscent of the team’s dominating victory at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, during which the Taylor brothers led every lap of the race.
A flurry of caution periods approaching the latter stages of today’s race bunched up the field on several occasions, and the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi of Johannes van Overbeek and Luis Felipe Derani was able to take advantage and slip past. Finishing driver Derani beat Jordan Taylor across the finish line by 2.356 seconds for his team’s first victory of the season.
It was the sixth podium finish of the season for the Taylor brothers and their second in a row at Road America.
“I was able to lead the race early,” said Ricky Taylor, who finished third alongside his brother here last year. “This is a very good points day after a couple of tough races. The points gap should is over 20 points now for the championship, so we need to get through Laguna Seca and then go onto Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and really attack. It’s really hard to race with the Nissan cars at the end with their top speed. The Konica Minolta Cadillac team did a perfect job today. I’m happy for the team and everyone at Cadillac.”
The weekend began with the Taylor brothers holding a 19-point lead over the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa. Today’s runner-up finish, combined with the No. 5 team’s sixth-place finish, widened the gap to 26 points with only the late-September event at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California and the season-ending Petit Le Mans endurance marathon at Road Atlanta in early October left on the schedule.
“We had the race in control at the beginning when we had that nice lead,” Jordan Taylor said. “When the yellow came out and they were up behind us, I knew that it would be damage control. On the restarts, with our lack of downforce, it is hard to get heat in the tires while they can just attack. Our car takes a little to work its way in. Our pace was good at the end of the race. We can’t complain too much, it was a good points day. We will head to Laguna and Road Atlanta in great shape.”
The penultimate round of the 10-event 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule is the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. The two-hour, 40-minute event Sunday, Sept. 24, is set for a live television broadcast on FS1 beginning at 5 p.m. EDT.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!