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TAYLOR: Daytona Debrief

Jordan Taylor recaps an unusual Rolex 24…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Hello everyone, Jordan Taylor here for another year of columns with Sportscar365.

This year will the identical schedule as last year, as I will be with Wayne Taylor Racing for the full WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as competing at Le Mans with Corvette Racing.

This weekend kicked off the season as usual, with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It’s always nice to have the start of the motorsport season here in Daytona, welcoming drivers and teams from all over.

For us, it’s our family’s home race, so it makes it just that little bit more special.

It was an unusual set of circumstances for me personally heading into the weekend, as I had fallen ill two weeks prior to the race and had been stuck in bed all the way up until the race weekend.

With me being ill and unsure of my ability in the car, we made the late decision to get a fourth driver, Rubens Barrichello. Rubens had shown interest to drive with us a few weeks prior, but at that point, we were just planning on running our usual three guys.

We always have a strong car at Daytona. The Wayne Taylor Racing guys not only provide a competitive car, but also, a reliable car. We saw at the Roar that we weren’t going to have the fastest car on lap time, but we just had to focus on what we had, and to run our own race.

Practice and qualifying was a bit of a mess, as a big rain storm had come in on Thursday, but Ricky did a fantastic job to put us P4 in qualifying.

He pitted after two timed laps, as it was too risky to stay out there in those conditions. Thankfully the race was forecasted to have beautiful weather.

When the green flag dropped, we settled into a good pace. As expected, the 2, 60, and 0 all took off. Ricky did the first two stints and then it was my turn in the car.

Thankfully I felt fine while driving and was able to do a stint and a half. At this point in the race, that is all I was scheduled to do. So I got out, and I had the rest of the race off to relax.

With Rubens only doing a few laps in practice, the race was the first time he could get comfortable in the car.

Unfortunately we found that he didn’t fit quite right, so between his first time in the car and second time in the car, we had to be proactive.

We decided to use my Dad’s old insert to get him pushed up closer to the steering wheel and pedals. Thankfully this was a good fix and he was able to do a triple stint in the early hours of Sunday morning.

I woke up at about 3 a.m. Sunday morning to find a text from my engineer asking if I would be up for another stint at sunrise. I was more than happy to get back in the car, because when you’re in the race car, you don’t think about anything else. Driving the race car was the best medicine for me.

We were still in contention, battling for the lead all through the night and into Sunday. We knew that if we were going to win the race, we needed track position. It was tough to pass, but we could keep any of the DPs behind when we were battling.

Once the 2 got by us in the closing hours, it was just a waiting game. We knew we weren’t going to get back by them on track, and there wasn’t enough time left in the race to make anything happen with strategy. So all we could do was wait.

We ended up finishing second, again (third time in four years). In the past four years, Wayne Taylor Racing has completed every lap of the Rolex 24, 2,880 laps, 10,253 miles. We haven’t gone to the garage and we haven’t gone a lap down in four years.

This year was probably the best race we’ve run, it was flawless. We spent four minutes less in the pits than any other prototype. No penalties, no car repairs, no mistakes. I don’t think there’s another team out there that can say the same thing.

So we can leave being proud, because it’s the best we could have done. Everyone executed perfectly. From the drivers, to the crew, to the engineers. Thank you to everyone on the team, as well as Konica Minolta for being there and supporting us at the track all weekend.

I can also report that Max is all OK, he was back home last night joking around as usual and is currently flying back home to Italy to see his family. He’s an ironman.

See you guys in Sebring.

Jordan Taylor (@jordan10taylor) is the 2013 Rolex Sports Car Series DP champion, driving for Wayne Taylor Racing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Corvette Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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