One of the worst-kept secrets in the IMSA paddock has been finally confirmed, with Team Penske naming Ricky Taylor to its Acura DPi program in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, while the team’s endurance drivers have also been revealed.
The newly crowned Prototype champion will join Helio Castroneves at the wheel of the team’s second Acura ARX-05 DPi, alongside the previously announced full-season pairing of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.
Additionally, IndyCar stars Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud have been confirmed for the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
It marks a move away from the family-run Wayne Taylor Racing team for the 28-year-old second-generation driver, which Ricky has driven for in the last four seasons.
Taylor got his first taste of working with Penske during an IndyCar test at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this year, and is understood to have kept in touch with Roger Penske and Tim Cindric since.
“It was a great experience getting a chance to test an Indy car with Team Penske, but to get a call from Roger Penske offering the opportunity to drive one of his race cars full time, well, that’s a life-changing opportunity,” said Taylor.
“We have had a lot of success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship the last few seasons with my dad’s team, including winning both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Championship this year.
“I’m definitely ready for the next challenge in my career and I couldn’t be more excited to join Team Penske and work with Helio, Juan and Dane to launch the new factory Acura effort and start winning with the ARX-05 in 2018.”
Taylor was crowned series champion at the Motul Petit Le Mans last weekend after winning the first five rounds of the season.
“Adding a champion sports car driver in Ricky will help our team grow and develop,” said Roger Penske. “Ricky had a phenomenal season in 2017.
“He brings a great deal of sports car experience and his knowledge of the cars, the race tracks and the series overall will be a big benefit to our team.
“Having that experience, along with the winning pedigree of Helio, Juan and Dane, provides a great platform as we launch the Acura Team Penske program next season.”
Rahal, Pagenaud Join Penske for Endurance Races
Acura Team Penske’s lineup is now complete, with Rahal and Pagenaud also confirmed as drivers for the opening two WeatherTech Championship races of the season.
2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Pagenaud formed part of the team’s lineup for its sports car return at Road Atlanta alongside Castroneves and Montoya, while Rahal drove the Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 at Daytona this year.
“This will be a dream come true to get to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring for Roger Penske, someone who not only means a lot to sports car racing, but motorsports in general,” said Rahal.
“I’m excited for the opportunity and I really look forward to racing the Acura ARX-05.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to race with the Acura brand already and had a good time running the Acura NSX at Daytona this past season.”
Pagenaud added: “I’ve been hoping for the opportunity to work with Team Penske in the endurance races for next year and I’m excited to get the opportunity.
“We had a strong first showing at Petit Le Mans last weekend and I feel like the team is on the right track.
“All of the drivers had some rust to knock off driving these types of cars and the team got a lot of great experience.”
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report