Ricky Taylor believes that wins in the Michelin Endurance Cup races are the key remaining objectives in the Acura Team Penske Program.
The defending IMSA WeatherTech Championship-winning DPi squad enters the second half of the reconfigured 2020 season, which sees three long-distance enduros in a five-race span.
While Acura Team Penske has claimed a total of five wins since the program’s debut in 2018, none of them have been at a race longer than two hours and 40 minutes, something Taylor is hoping to change this weekend.
He and co-driver Helio Castroneves head into Saturday’s six-hour enduro at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on the heels of their first victory in more than two years, coming in a rain-soaked outing at Road America.
Now with only a handful of races left in the program, which will end following the conclusion of the season, Taylor said they want to go out on a high note with wins in some of the key enduros.
In addition to this weekend’s replacement to the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, the ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring all remain on the calendar.
“We really want to win these long races,” Taylor said. “That’s kind of the last box we need to check for the program.
“Obviously Helio and I want to win any race we can. But these big ones have really eluded us.
“At least recently it hasn’t been due` to reliability; the cars have been really strong.
“Last year’s Petit Le Mans came down to a drive-through penalty. Still finishing on the podium, I think we had a shot at the win here last year.
“It’s like all the races, execution and being there in the last two or three hours.
“We have the pace and the cars have proven their reliability. It just seems to be alluding us lately.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to win the next three long races.”
While having had a challenging start to their season, with mechanical-related issues, Taylor believes their bad luck is behind them.
The No. 7 Acura ARX-05 duo sit sixth in the DPi title chase, one point ahead of defending champions Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya, who have had an equally challenging season so far.
“Speed hasn’t been so much of an issue,” Taylor said. “We qualified second at Petit Le Mans last year but when we got into the race, the Cadillacs showed a lot of pace.
“Coming off of a win, I feel like we’ve had the pace for a couple of wins, even last year.
“I’m really encouraged by the performance of the team so far this year.
“Although we are quite far down in points, we can take some risks, there’s still a long way to go and plenty of time for people to have the bad luck we had earlier in the year.”
Cameron Focused on Task at Hand Despite Late BoP Change
A late Balance of Performance change to the DPi class, which sees the Cadillac DPi-V.Rs receive a 15 kg weight break for this weekend, has not affected the team’s approach to the weekend according to Cameron.
“I’ve pretty much given up worrying about it too much,” he said. “They’re going to do whatever they want to do. We’ll just do our job.
“Honestly when we get to the end of the year, every time we go up to Road Atlanta before, we’ve been in really bad shape because we’ve come from some of the best tracks for our car.
“It will be interesting to see. Our car is in a different BoP window from what it normally is. We don’t really know how we’re going to be.”