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TAYLOR: Coming Down to the Wire

Ricky Taylor files his latest Sportscar365 column setting up the ultra-close points fight for DPi title…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

All but one race of the season have been completed and once again it comes down to the narrowest of margins. We have a 19-point advantage over the No. 31 Action Express car with just one race to go, which sounds pretty comfy.

But to emphasize how close that really is, we have to recalibrate our minds to what we are used to seeing before the change to the points structure this season.

Firstly, this season we now have qualifying points equaling 35 for pole 32 for second 30 for third and so on down the order, equal to last years race points. Also new for this year, the race points have been multiplied by 10, so 350, 320, 300… and so on.

Therefore, just for effect by last years points, we are really only looking at less than a 2-point advantage with one race (and a qualifying) to go!

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is an amazing calendar and we end the season in dramatic fashion with an epic 10-hour race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Endurance races with all of the classes creates a highly tense and unpredictable landscape at any point in the season, but to finish off the season where both contenders must race for the win makes this years’ Motul Petit Le Mans one where the drama and stakes could not be higher.

Acura has won the last two IMSA DPi championships and we are attempting to make it three in a row for the Acura ARX-05. The team, Konica Minolta and Wayne Taylor Racing finished second by just 1 point last year in the championship and are going for the first championship since the 2017 season.

Meanwhile, Action Express is going for their first since 2018. All of the players in this years championship are in familiar territory and it truly is a highly anticipated and high level matchup between two of the top teams and manufacturers in sports car racing. Each contender is hungry for the title and surely tension will be at an all time high throughout the Petit Le Mans weekend.

To add a few interesting dynamics to the mix, firstly, this will be the first weekend back for the third drivers since Sebring.

Third drivers have such a difficult task of not driving this car all season and being expected to perform at an extremely high level at a critical point of the season. But they are truly some of the best drivers in the world and do a wonderful job.

On top of that, there will be additional stress on executing during qualifying as the 3 points for pole will put one team or the other in a much stronger position going into the race where the finishing order of the race could provide more or less of a buffer than finishing just one or two positions apart.

Petit Le Mans is an iconic event that provides drama and exciting racing every year, it is a fitting venue for the closing round of the 2021 season.

I know everyone is feeling the anticipation leading up to the event and this is the way drivers and teams dream of winning championships, hard-fought battles to the end of the season by the slimmest of margins between some of the best teams in the sport.

Ricky Taylor (@RickyTaylorRace) is the 2017 and 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype champion, driving for Wayne Taylor Racing and Acura Motorsports.

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