Ryan Briscoe believes the battle for the DPi championship is “anyone’s title” at the moment with only nine points separating the top five driving crews heading into this weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
Briscoe and Wayne Taylor Racing co-driver Renger van der Zande enter the ten-hour enduro at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta still at the top of the pack, although having seen their lead gradually decrease over the last two races.
The No. 10 Cadillac DPi.V-R duo currently hold a three-point advantage over Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani, while Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves — who seek their fourth consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win on Saturday — are only five points behind in third.
Mazda’s Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito, nor Sebastien Bourdais of JDC-Miller Motorsports shouldn’t be counted out either, being eight and nine points behind, respectively, going into the final three races of the season.
“It’s definitely exciting and it’s anyone’s title at the moment,” said Briscoe.
“I prefer if we were just running away with it but the competition has been so good. We’ve been very consistent but we’re definitely pushing very hard to try to finish out the season with some wins.
“We won the [season] opener at Daytona and we’re really hoping our strong point will be in the longer-distance races.
“We had a very good running in the six-hour race at Atlanta but this will be different. It will be cooler conditions and a different compound of tire. We’re hoping to build on that.
“We’ve been working with the engineers on looking at what we could have done a little bit better.
“I feel confident we’re going to come back stronger. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Briscoe said he and van der Zande, who will be rejoined by NTT IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon this weekend, need to again be “smart” in playing the championship game.
“It will be a bit clearer going into Sebring on exactly who you’re racing for points and where you have to finish,” Briscoe said.
“One thing we need to watch is putting a stop to the 7 car that has won the last three races and has made a real big comeback in the points.
“They’ve been running very strong and they’ve had a very fast car.
“With no BoP changes in the last couple of races we can expect that car to continue to be probably the fastest one on the track.
“We just need to be smart and keep getting these podium finishes. Obviously go for the win if we can but I think it will make a whole lot more sense going into Sebring.”
Van der Zande admitted they felt “a bit robbed” in last month’s six-hour enduro at Road Atlanta when a pit lane collision between Briscoe and the No. 6 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 of Juan Pablo Montoya relegated them to a fifth place finish.
“With three races to go, it’s the tightest championship ever in IMSA,” the Dutchman said. “I think all of the cars are within ten points, more or less.
“If you do well, you have a good shot of winning the championship. We have to do well.
“The team is more than ready. They’re very focused on doing well and trying to make the most of it.”
No Change in Focus Despite 2021 Uncertainty
Both drivers said there’s no change in focus despite their futures with the team being unclear at the moment.
While yet to confirm its 2021 lineup as part of its move to Acura DPi machinery, WTR is believed to have already locked in Ricky Taylor as one of its drivers.
This would mean that Briscoe, van der Zande, or both drivers, could be out of a full-season ride next year with the team, which is reportedly evaluating other drivers on the market as well.
“The focus stays the same and it’s 100 percent to try to win the championship for ourselves, for Wayne Taylor Racing and for Cadillac,” said Briscoe. “It doesn’t change a thing.
“While in the background there are meetings going on and so-forth with Acura, our number one focus is trying to win the championship and that doesn’t change.”
Van der Zande added: “There’s a lot going on from the day after Sebring, even before that. But when you have a chance to win the championship, the focus should be on this season.
“After that we see what happens to 2021 even though it’s a very short off-season.”