Ricky Taylor says the Team Penske Acura ARX-05 cars were running to a “solid plan” until engine-related trouble struck both of the DPi contenders in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The pair of Acura DPis were forced to retire, within the span of one hour, following a strong early showing in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Both Taylor and co-driver Helio Castroneves led early in the No. 7 Acura and remained within the top-three until the reigning Prototype champion suffered a sudden loss of oil pressure just past the halfway mark.
It came just moments following the restart from the race’s fifth full-course caution period.
“We were just settling in and everything was going to plan,” Taylor said. “The whole Acura Team Penske crew had done an amazing job leading up to the race.
“We were settled into the top-three for the entire day. Unfortunately this knocked us out.
“We had such a solid plan moving forward. We were really looking forward to battling at the end.”
Less than one hour later, the sister No. 6 car of Juan Pablo Montoya also ground to a halt on track with no drive, following contact with the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R of Tristan Vautier, which turned the Colombian around.
“We could tell that the car was losing power about four or five laps before we were knocked off track,” Montoya explained.
“It’s a shame because we were in a good position for the transition to night when we knew the track would come to us.”
HPD to Investigate Engine Issues
Both of the Acura twin-turbo V6 powerplants will be flown directly to Honda Performance Development in California for a full inspection, according to HPD race team leader Allen Miller.
The 3.5-liter engine, a development of HPD’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans race-winning HR35TT powerplant, had not faced any significant reliability issues up until now.
Miller indicated that Montoya’s engine did not re-fire normally following his spin.
“The engine was new-for-this event, it was low-mileage, it was something unusual,” Miller told Sportscar365. “We’ll get it apart, we’ll find out what the exact component it is and move forward.”
Taylor, meanwhile, is optimistic of bouncing back in next month’s round on the streets of Long Beach, a race which the second-generation driver claimed victory at last year.
“It’s one thing that if we were never competitive and fell out,” he said. “To have this kind of speed and put on this kind of show so far excites us to move onto Long Beach and hopefully get a win there.”