Date: May 5, 2019
Event: IMSA Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio (Round 4 of 10)
Series: Daytona Prototype international division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington (2.258-mile, 13-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 7th / 6th (Running, completed 122 of 123 laps)
Winner: Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske (Acura DPi)
Point Standing: 3rd (113 points, seven out of first)
The aptly named Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington is situated midway between the sprawling metropolises of Columbus and Cleveland – about an hour’s drive in each direction. The duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande hit the scenic 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course with their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R for Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race and brought home, coincidentally enough, a midpack finish of sixth.
It’s the kind of finish this championship-caliber team typically would not write home about, but the shining light on an otherwise frustrating weekend was a positive move from fourth to third in the driver and team standings on a racetrack that has been its Achilles heel since it began racing there in 2004.
Wet conditions during both practices Friday and leading up to qualifying Saturday didn’t do the team any favors, leaving it with precious few laps to try and finally solve the Mid-Ohio layout with a race-winning setup.
Van der Zande qualified seventh and promptly dropped a position on a wild opening race lap of today’s two-hour, 40-minute race, settling into eighth and keeping the car there before handing it over to Taylor on lap 30 at the 40-minute mark.
Taylor resumed in eighth and also maintained that relative position through the second fuel-and-tire stop at the one-hour, 28-minute mark. He picked up a pair of positions when the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa and the No. 54 Nissan DPi of Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett decided to go off strategy from the leaders.
Taylor pitted a final time from sixth at the two-hour, two-minute mark and resumed in the same position. He chased his older brother and former co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi for fifth over the final 38 minutes. He crossed the finish line .961 of a second behind his brother, who was the first car one lap down to the leaders.
“I think, all things considered, we knew this was probably going to be our toughest race of the year, so leaving here with sixth place isn’t the end of the world,” Taylor said. “We made up points on the 5 car, we only lost a couple to the 31 (Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R) and the 7, who we’re close to in the championship. Damage control was kind of the name of the game today, judging by our pace. But I think, leaving with sixth, we can be somewhat happy and go to Detroit, where we should be pretty strong.”
The sixth-place finish enabled to No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R to leapfrog the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac from fourth to third in the standings, seven points behind the leading No. 31 Action Express Cadillac, which finished fourth today and was the final car on the lead lap.
“It was a very tough weekend,” van der Zande said. “I don’t think we had the right speed to attack, so it was damage control, like we knew up front. I think we drained the tires in qualifying because of the high pressures and I suffered with that during my stint quite a lot. After that, we got grip out of the tires a little better and better every time, and that’s the end result. A bit of luck here and there, but altogether we have some work to do on this track and I think we should look ahead from now on as we go to Detroit, which is a track that, historically, has been good for this team.”
Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya scored the victory today in their No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPi, leading a pair of Mazda DPi entries across the finish line by 2.022 seconds.
“It was a disappointing race,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We didn’t seem to have a car that was fast enough. Clearly, the Mazdas and the Acuras were in a different category to the Cadillacs. Luckily, the championship hasn’t changed that dramatically. We were fourth coming in, we’re third going out. So, we’ve just got to figure out why we were so slow.”
Round five of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at the Raceway on Belle Isle Park circuit Saturday, June 1.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!