Wayne Taylor Racing’s new full season signing Ryan Briscoe believes the “prospects are high” for the Cadillac DPi team following its off-season driver lineup shuffle.
Briscoe, who was previously a part of the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT program, joined WTR to replace the Corvette-bound Jordan Taylor as Renger van der Zande’s co-driver.
Briscoe and van der Zande will share the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R for the first time in this month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with Kamui Kobayashi and Briscoe’s former Ford teammate Scott Dixon.
WTR is the defending Rolex 24 winner having taken the spoils last year with van der Zande, Kobayashi, Taylor and Fernando Alonso.
“I’ve never driven with Kamui or Renger but I know them both and obviously I know Scott really well,” Briscoe told Sportscar365.
“I think the prospects are high. Wayne [Taylor] wants to go out and start the season swinging, which you have to. Daytona is the biggest race of the year and you don’t have any time to take your time and ease into it.
“That’s the toughest thing, that there isn’t much seat time before the first race. We’ve only done one test [at Sebring in December] and then you’ve got the Roar which really isn’t a lot of seat time.
“But I feel good. I was really happy with how the first test went. I did plenty of laps and started doing driver change practice. I’m ready to be at the top of my game come Daytona.”
Briscoe said that he was impressed with the evolution in prototype sports car machinery from his previous experiences to the DPi formula of today.
The American-based Australian last raced a prototype in 2013 when he contested the American Le Mans Series in a Level 5 Motorsports-run HPD ARX-03b.
“I did a couple of days in the [DPi] car at Sebring a couple of weeks ago and it felt awesome,” said Briscoe.
“The DPi is a really good car, a lot better than what I remembered with the LMP2. It felt great to be flying through the corners with downforce again.
“It will take a little bit of getting used to getting everything out of it, but I felt very comfortable in the car.
“What I was worried about was getting used to the cockpit being covered and small but I was really surprised by how good the visibility is. It’s way better than what we had in the Ford.
“I just think that everything, since I last drove prototypes, has been an upgrade. The engine felt awesome and the whole package felt really good. I was just really impressed all around.”
Dixon: “Strange” to Return to Daytona without CGR
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Michelin Endurance Cup driver Dixon admitted that it feels unusual to be preparing for the Rolex 24 with a new team.
The long-time CGR IndyCar driver, who is set to represent WTR for the first time, has won Daytona with CGR on two occasions in 2006 and 2015.
“It’s been four years since I have been in prototypes so it’s nice to be back in the quicker category,” said the New Zealander.
“It’s fun to come back with the defending winning team as well. But you also don’t want to be the guy who comes in and stuffs it up too.
“In testing, there were some things that definitely caught me off guard a bit. But there are a lot of people on the team that have been at Ganassi in previous years.
“It’s fun to be back at Daytona, but a little strange too that the first 15 or so of those I’ve done have been with Chip. I’m thankful for him letting me jump onto another team.”
Dixon said that while it didn’t take long for him to get to grips with the Cadillac – his first prototype drive since the Ford-Riley DP in 2016 – there were a couple of key learning areas.
“I think the way that the prototypes achieve the braking is a bit different to the IndyCar and maybe a little bit with the GT too,” explained the five-time IndyCar champion.
“It’s normally steering wheel layouts and where the radio button is. It’s always the opposite in different cars, I don’t know why, but it’s just procedural things like that.
“But I wouldn’t say there’s anything too crazy because the car itself was nice to drive.”
John Dagys contributed to this report