Juan Pablo Montoya says the pair of Team Penske Acura ARX-05s have been struggling “more than expected” and doesn’t believe the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs have shown their full potential at the Roar Before the Rolex 24.
The defending IMSA DPi championship-winning team has yet to match the pace of the Team Joest-entered Mazda RT24-Ps, which have topped four of the five sessions so far in this weekend’s official pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway.
A 1:35.841 lap time by Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi, set during Saturday’s night session, stands as the quickest of the Acura Penske contingent, but still more than one second adrift from the pace-setting Mazda DPi.
“I think the Mazdas look really, really strong,” Montoya said on Saturday afternoon. “I think we’re struggling a little more than we expected. I think Cadillac hasn’t shown anything yet.
“So we’ll have to wait and see when they start picking up the pace.
“[Cadillac] did the same thing last year and they were really strong [in the race].
“I think they have a good understanding of what you need to do this week to be very strong in the race. We’ll see.”
Montoya said Acura and Penske are “very determined” to put on a good showing in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the combination yet to deliver an endurance race win.
“We had a very strong season last year but we haven’t won any of the endurance races,” he said.
“This year, our number one priority will be to get some of those.
“I think when you’re at Team Penske each week, it’s a must-win situation. That’s the way I look at it.
“When you are with Acura and Team Penske and have the equipment you have in your hands, you’re supposed to deliver and do your job.”
Taylor added that winning the Rolex 24 would be at the “top of the priority list” for the No. 7 crew, which according to co-driver Helio Castroneves, feel they have “unfinished business” from last year’s rain-soaked race that benefited the Cadillacs.
Taylor: Improvements Never Ending
Taylor said the improvements to the ORECA-based DPi have been never-ending, despite now being in their third year.
“That’s been the amazing thing about joining Acura Team Penske,” he said. “In the back of your mind when you’re developing a car, you’re thinking, ‘When are we going to run out of things to improve?
“The thing I’ve learned here is that there’s so many years of experience, whether it’s on the driving side or engineer side, driver side or management side, everybody is so experienced and there’s so many years of knowledge that the improvements never stop.
“It really hasn’t slowed down. We’re still learning so much about this car. There’s a lot of room for improvement, as you saw last year in the 24-hour.”