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TAYLOR: Finding New Ways to Go Faster

Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor files his latest Sportscar365 column after victory at Laguna Seca…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda

Each year at WTR there is a race-by-race tradition. One year each crew member selected a pre race warm-up song, another year it was a special edition custom crew member baseball card. This year it’s quotes.

And this weekend’s quote came courtesy of Logan Sprung (strategy/engineering master by day and wake surf shredder by night).

The year started off in near perfect fashion where we jumped out to a healthy early lead in the championship but as of late, we have seen the 31 car and the Mazda string together some strong results while our lead was cut majorly.

Within the team we knew our strengths and even in the races where we lost ground, we were confident that our car and team’s performances were better than the results were showing.

Nevertheless, on the outside it appeared to be only a matter of time before we lost our lead.

Having said that, Laguna Seca had to be the race to halt the momentum of our rivals and prove that the results were due to some misfortune and that the team was still capable of the form it showed early in the season.

Acura has won the past two years in Laguna Seca so the expectations were high for a good result. The guys worked really hard to find new ways to go faster, so we would have to as well to maintain that relative strength at this racetrack.

We’ve seen how important qualifying is this season. A second place qualifying in Road America made the race much more difficult to control. Filipe and the team planned and executed a perfect qualifying to put us on pole, just two-hundredths ahead of Dane Cameron in the sister Acura.

The field was very close all through practice and qualifying so we anticipated a very difficult race.

Photo: IMSA

Filipe started us off from pole and had a fantastic opening stint. He was able to open a comfortable gap on the field and we were able to perform the strategy the team wanted.

Endurance racing is always filled with challenges and you never know what you will encounter.

On the second stint Filipe stayed in the car but had debris in the right rear brake duct. The right rear brake and tire temp started to go up very quickly and Filipe was struggling to maintain the rear of the car.

These cars are very sensitive to temperatures so Filipe had his hands full. What seemed to be a super strong car in the first stint was now unluckily becoming a very difficult car to maintain the lead with.

Filipe managed the rear tires the best he could and was able to hold the lead throughout his second stint. The stints in Laguna are very long and include a lot of laps, which made Filipe’s job even more difficult.

On the second stop of the race, we made our driver change and the boys were able to clear the debris from the brake duct. The assignment was quite simple and that was to open the gap as much as we could to guarantee nobody could beat us in the pits by taking risky strategy.

The car was fantastic. The team made all of the right decisions over the weekend and gave us an amazing race car.

With the debris finally cleared, the pace was very good and we were able to open the gap on the 31 and the 01.

The 60 had taken a very risky strategy and gambled on a yellow to make it on a two-stop strategy. So we were only behind the 60 on the road but knew if they didn’t get a yellow, they would not be a factor in the race.

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

The final stop came around and we were able to overtake the 60 with about 20 minutes to go while they were in a massive fuel saving. Also during the final stint, Renger was able to pass Nasr, which set us up to possibly take more points on the 31 in the championship.

With two laps to go we had a comfortable margin to finish the race, when we came up on fight for second and third place in the P2 category. Since we were not under pressure, we decided to not get into the middle of it and cruise to the end of the race.

Going to the Corkscrew they were in an epic battle and both spun just in front of our car. Flying across the track in all directions, it was far too close for comfort with the situation we were in.

Two corners later we finally crossed the line to take our third win of the year.

This was an especially nice accomplishment for the team. The team had a plan and a process. All of the decisions throughout the practice, qualifying and race were well thought out and calculated. When the expectations are high, it is sometimes difficult to execute but the team did not try… They DID!

Two more races to go. Long Beach is historically a very strong track for Cadillac.

In the same way that Laguna favored us, Long Beach will favor the Cadillacs. We have been constantly improving so I believe if there was ever a year for a Long Beach upset, this is the one.

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

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

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