Ricky Taylor says the lessons learned in year one of Acura Team Penske’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program has the two-car operation primed to notch a marquee win in the series’ biggest race.
The Acura ARX-05 made its race debut in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and was immediately on the pace, but the team’s relative inexperience in the endurance format and the unproven nature of the car left Taylor and his teammates with an unrepresentative result.
Now armed with a year’s worth of experience and and finely tuned package, Taylor figures Daytona could prove to be the crown jewel win the program has been seeking.
The program has only a single win to its credit so far, coming at Mid-Ohio last year with Taylor and Helio Castroneves.
“This is the weekend,” Taylor told Sportscar365. “With what we saw last year, we had the pace to win it but now we have the combination of pace and knowledge, as well as all the lessons with reliability.
“We’ve got the driver changes, brake changes, wing changes down to where I feel like even if we have little issues we can recover. I definitely feel like getting that marquee win.
“Right off the bat Penske was expecting the win, but [with] how difficult this race is, and so many things can go wrong, regardless of how good you feel. There’s always that X-factor that can get you.
“And having a year under the belt we’ve seen all those things go wrong and made adjustments. The team is now really ready. We’ve got all of the procedures, systems and processes in place to address any issues.”
The Acura DPi is the only car not to top at least one of the sessions so far this weekend, although Team Penske and Acura have quietly been going about its program.
Taylor said their qualifying performance that saw both of its cars lock down spots in the top-three sent a message to the rest of the field.
“I don’t think [Mazda] actually thought we were going to be that close in qualifying,” he said. “I don’t think they thought that we were going to go that quick.
“I was pretty pleased that we were able to get that close to the Mazdas. I think over the race, being how light they are, they’re going to be tough to beat.
“Once we get to the end to the race we’ll see what we have, and I think if we can get track position on them, we’ll try to make their life very difficult.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report.