Ricky Taylor believes the “pressure is definitely on” in the DPi title race, which sees the top-three teams separated by just 43 points heading into the final three rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Taylor and Wayne Taylor Racing co-driver Filipe Albuquerque have maintained their lead in the championship since their win in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January although have seen it gradually reduced in recent races.
A fourth place finish at Road America saw their advantage slip to 41 points over Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr, who head to this weekend’s round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca seeking their third consecutive win.
Mazda’s Harry Tincknell and Oliver Jarvis also gained points on the Acura duo in Road America and sit just two points behind Derani and Nasr.
“The pressure has been going up and up throughout the year,” said Taylor. “Obviously we started off with a great first couple of races and got into a pretty comfortable points lead.
“Forty-one points in the past few years sounds like a lot but this year it’s nothing. It’s four points from what we’re used to hearing.
“It’s super tight. The pressure is definitely on in the final three [DPi] races of the year.
“It’s going to be a really tough end of the year but Laguna, for the Acura is super strong, and it should be a race that we should hopefully be able to capitalize.
“I think we said that at Road America and unfortunately it didn’t go quite our way and we lost some points.
“But I think Filipe and I and the team are super excited to get to Laguna.”
Taylor, who along with Helio Castroneves won at Laguna Seca last year with Acura Team Penske, with the WTR drivers hoping to translate the 2020 success with the car into their first win since the third round of the season at Mid-Ohio in May.
“The car is more dialed in. But somehow wins are not in our possession,” Albuquerque said.
“Road America was a good example. I thought we were really, really quick but because of a difficult qualifying in the rain, we could not put the car better [on the grid].
“The race was kind of decided there.
“As we are seeing now — and when you have two pros knowing exactly how to deal with traffic and defend from the car behind — at Road America it was almost two hours and 40 [minutes] with the top three cars separated by two seconds the whole race.
“That shows how competitive the championship is.”
Title rival Nasr, meanwhile, is hopeful of becoming the first three-time DPi winner this year, which could have significant championship implications.
“I feel like the team has done a great job over the past few events,” said Nasr. “We’re building up the momentum and getting the most out of our No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. The whole package has been working pretty well.
“We’ll take each day as it comes at Laguna. That place is very technical and quite tricky to set up the car for one lap, with regards to qualifying pace.
“The race will dictate a lot. But, track position is important, so qualifying will be crucial. Again, we’ll do what it takes to keep the fight alive all the way until the end.”
Tincknell added that the title battle is “basically equal” given IMSA’s new-for-2021 points system, which has been multiplied by a factor of ten compared to its previous system.
“We did well last time out at Road America and closed everything up at the top of the championship,” he said. “We know that we’re basically equal on points with the No. 31 and the No. 10 is just ahead so we have everything to play for.
“It’s a three horse race now so we need another strong and consistent run.
“In the past couple of years we haven’t been as strong as we hoped at Laguna in terms of the results but last year I had the fastest stint averages in the race so we know we can get better results there.”