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Ricky Taylor: Acura, Penske “Ready to Win”

Ricky Taylor bullish on Penske’s chances of instant success in DPi program debut…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Ricky Taylor believes Acura Team Penske is already “ready to win” heading into the program’s debut race in next month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The reigning IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype champion has moved from his family’s Wayne Taylor Racing organization to Acura’s new flagship sports car racing effort, joining open-wheel aces Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves plus 2016 Prototype champion Dane Cameron in the pair of Acura ARX-05 DPis.

The new-for-2018 program has already underwent an extensive development program, with outings at Road Atlanta, Sebring, Daytona and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and most recently the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona, which saw the debut of the team’s second entry.

According to Taylor, the level of preparation has given added confidence for the team to hit the ground running.

“I’ve never done so much testing before,” Taylor told Sportscar365. “It was a normal progress through having a new car with teething issues just like any car would, but they really worked through everything.

“The one thing that I’ve noticed being here is that there’s not a limit on car performance or team performance in terms of resources and making sure that they’re ready to win.

“I think if they’re going to go to Daytona it’s only if they have a shot to win. I don’t think anything less is acceptable here. It’s pretty cool.”

With the Acura DPi being the only all-new Prototype in the WeatherTech Championship next year, Taylor admitted it hasn’t taken a lot to adapt to the ORECA-chassied car, despite the majority of his experience coming from the Dallara-based Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“I think most of the progress is with what the engineers are understanding,” he said. “On the race weekends it’s so important to be right there.

“It’s definitely different. It requires some different inputs from the driver in order to do the lap time, but it’s just another race car. I think the performance will be there. We’re just working through the program.”

Last week’s two-day test at Daytona marked the public debut of Penske’s Acura DPi operation alongside the majority of the other Prototype competitors, allowing the 28-year-old the first chance to acclimate to his new environment.

“I’ve been a part of the team for six or seven test days already, but to come to an actual official test with all the teams here and actually walk over to the Penske timing stands and be a part of the team is amazing,” Taylor said.

“The team is so welcoming and comforting to be a part of. You expect to be under a lot of pressure but really it’s the exact opposite.

“They’re really trying to take the pressure off and make you feel comfortable, and that you’re the guy for the job which is really a nice warm feeling.”

“Competitive” Rivalry Expected Between Brothers

Taylor admits that he expects a friendly, but competitive rivalry between he and brother Jordan Taylor, who remains with WTR next year alongside new co-driver Renger van der Zande.

The Taylors head into Daytona as defending race winners, but now in separate cars. 

“It’s hard not to just because both teams are expecting to win,” Ricky said. “It’s two championship-caliber teams and we’re going to be battling. It’s only natural for it to turn into some competition.

“No matter what it’s not going to turn sour or bitter, but I can definitely say that it’s competitive.

“You kick it off with the big one. Everybody has a good history here, and it’s just going to be really interesting when we get on track together and everybody is really going for it.”

While having driven for different teams in the past, Taylor admitted it was a strange feeling being distanced from his family’s outfit, and brother, at the test.

“It has been really weird,” he said. “The guys are pretending like they don’t remember me, but I know they miss me!

“Just the thought that I can’t just go in there and say hi has been on [my mind] but we’re all focused over here and they’re doing their job. Everybody’s moving on.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

    December 13, 2017 at 10:51 am

    When will we know something about TV coverage for Rolex?

    • Harry Manback

      December 13, 2017 at 11:51 am

      You’re better off not knowing – trust me, it’s less stressful that way.

    • Change it up

      December 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      You are better off attending the race live. My entire trip (planes/hotels/car rental/tickets) is only costing me $400 total and I’m coming from Rhode Island. Well worth the money.

      • lateapex

        December 13, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        Costing me? So you haven’t been to the Rolex yet?

  2. Jenner

    December 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Was Penske testing at Laguna the same day Joest was after Thanksgiving, Nov 30th?

    Was going to call in sick that day but my customers would of been screaming. Any lap times or video of that test around? Laguna Seca is a county park and always open to the public.

  3. Observer

    December 13, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    No doubt these guys will be competitive wherever they go, but i think they and most everyone else are really underestimating their competition…the way most things are written about them they might as well get the trophies mailed to them now.

  4. lateapex

    December 13, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I think Penske will likely be the kiss of death for this incarnation of IMSA. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I see writing on the wall.

    • Thomas

      December 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Didn’t kill ALMS won’t kill IMSA.

  5. Houston

    December 13, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Ricky is going to miss that low end Chevy power. Hopefully the rule makers will let the Chevy and Honda race. I worry they will lean Honda to keep Penske. But maybe not.

  6. Degner

    December 13, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    “The new-for-2018 program has already underwent an extensive development program, with outings at Road Atlanta ….. ”

    “Underwent”?

    One would think the editor of a widely-read website would have a proper grasp of English. This isn’t a typo or a word out of place. This isn’t even a word. It demonstrates either a lack of understanding of the language or just plain laziness.

    Sadly, this a hallmark of “journalism” these days. Must do better John.

    • Degner

      December 13, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      “Underwent” isn’t even a word that fits the grammar of the sentence.

      • lateapex

        December 13, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        Underwent is a verb. The simple past tense of undergo. Lighten up Francis.

        • Degner

          December 13, 2017 at 11:25 pm

          “… has already underwent” is NOT correct. The infinitive “undergone” is correct here as the past tense in the sentence is signified by the word “already”.

          “The new-for-2018 program has already undergone an extensive development program.” – This is correct.

          It’s not rocket science and yes, it does matter if the content produced here is supposed to be professional.

          • Harry Manback

            December 14, 2017 at 12:09 pm

            Have you ever walked around an IMSA paddock? The people that design/build/prepare these cars are typically fat guys that usually have cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. Are you going to start yelling at them because they look unprofessional? DEMAND labcoats and static free work environments for the love of all things — this is top-tier sportscar racing, not your dirt track on a Friday night!!!!

  7. speedy

    December 13, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    There going to win a lot.

  8. lateapex

    December 14, 2017 at 8:58 am

    Uh oh, Degner is upset that you used “there” in the wrong manner.

    • Degner

      December 14, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      If you choose to speak/write in a careless fashion, that reflects upon you.

      Likewise, if the proprietor/editor of this website is too lazy to use proper grammar or fails to understand how to correctly use the English language, that reflects upon him.

  9. Degner

    December 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Making a grammatical error in a comment on a forum is one thing. Making a glaring error as a pro journalist on a website you run (and on which the error can be corrected, by the way) is another. What part of that don’t you understand?

    And while we’re at it, there’s an error in syntax in the article you linked to Harry.

    Any other quips?

    • Andy Flinn

      December 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      Degner, where you a stuffed bear named “Murphy” in a previous life?

      Rejection is a part of life. Learn to deal with it and move on already.

      • Andy Flinn

        December 15, 2017 at 4:26 pm

        Oops! See Degner, I made a mistake, too. I should have used “were” instead of “where.”

        This message board has no edit function so I think most people will forgive me.

      • Degner

        December 15, 2017 at 6:22 pm

        No, I was not. And rejection? What do you mean Flinn?

        Apparently, citing flaws is here is too much for those of you too weak minded to recognize them. How about acknowledging them rather than making excuses?

  10. lateapex

    December 14, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I have to disagree with you Harry. There are generally no fat people or smokers in an IMSA paddock. Maybe it’s just me.

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