Ricky Taylor described the final 45 minutes of Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge presented by TLX Type S as “so stressful” as he had to juggle saving fuel while keeping a hard-charging Felipe Nasr at bay.
Taylor and co-driver Filipe Albuquerque claimed victory at Mid-Ohio for Wayne Taylor Racing and Acura, giving the luxury automaker its fourth consecutive win in the event which came down to a dramatic fuel mileage battle between the Acura ARX-05 and Nasr’s Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Four of the six DPi contenders stretched their fuel to the limits in a 56-minute closing stint.
“It was really difficult for me to understand the big picture of everything,” said Taylor. “They were giving me a fuel number and I was trying to hit it.
“There were times where… it was putting me under so much pressure at some points where I had to push. I would end up burning myself for the next three laps and then have to pay back what I burned there and pay the price later in the stint.
“Towards the end there was a balance… They kept telling me that if we go too fast there’d be an extra lap. I didn’t want to back up to [Nasr]. It was so stressful.”
Taylor not only managed to avoid having to complete an additional lap of the 2.258-mile circuit but also withstand an intense final lap that saw Nasr turn up the wick while two DPis encountered traffic.
“I got to the fuel [warning] light with three laps to go,” said Taylor. “I didn’t say anything on the radio as I knew they knew what was going on.
“You could see [Nasr] was bagging up some fuel over the previous ten laps as you saw the gap grow out. I knew he was waiting to use it at the end and make a charge.
“They kept telling me to back up to him and safe the fuel. But the problem with that is that the tires cool down and with the [tire] pickup it makes it really, really difficult when you want to push again.
“By the time he was making that charge, the fuel light came on, the tires were cold and sliding around and he’s got a head of steam coming.
“Then we caught two cars three corners from the end. It was very stressful.”
While Albuquerque earned his first Mid-Ohio victory, it was Taylor’s third in the last four years with his previous two coming with Acura Team Penske.
It came amid WTR’s long-awaited first Mid-Ohio win at one of only two tracks on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar that it hadn’t previously been victorious at.
“I’m just ecstatic,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “This weekend has been all about Acura. They just launched the new Acura TLX Type S, and we had all the support from all their management, starting with Jon Ikeda and everyone at HPD.
“Then all of the support my team, my crew and my partners, including Konica Minolta and Harrison Contracting, and everyone that supports us and makes this happen.
“The combination of Ricky and Filipe is unbeatable! Plus, Brian with the strategy, it was just perfect.
“We have never won here before, so it was a big deal for everybody. Got a bit tense in the end with fuel consumption, but we did really well.”