Wayne Taylor revealed that his team had asked his fellow Cadillac teams for “help” in order for WTR to overcome a points deficit in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in the hopes of winning the DPi championship.
The No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon finished seventh in the title-decider, which saw Acura Team Penske’s Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves win the drivers’ championships by a single point.
The WTR team owner was seen on the TV broadcast in discussions late in the race as his team tried to negotiate with both Action Express Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports to pull over and give up their positions.
Van der Zande, Briscoe and the team would have been crowned champions had they finished fifth in the race.
Cadillacs were classified fourth through seventh in the drama-filled season finale, led by the pair of JDC-Miller entries.
Similar team orders were employed in the penultimate race of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, that saw the No. 7 Penske crew of Castroneves and Ricky Taylor have a three-point swing after their sister Acura ARX-05 pull over on the final lap.
“We tried, but those Cadillac guys don’t want to help us even though we’re Cadillac,” Wayne Taylor told Sportscar365 post-race.
“They’re racing so I can’t blame them, but I think sometimes people forget how big a deal it is when we represent a big car manufacturer like Cadillac.
“You would certainly think that people would help, but it’s over. I’m not upset about it.
“There were some guys on my team that thought was the only way we could win and I absolutely stopped it.”
WTR’s Vice President and general manager Travis Hogue added: “It was never anything that was negative towards the operation of the race.
“It was just the scenarios that were playing out that we all understood what the options were.
“It was just general conversion saying, ‘The only way that a Cadillac team can do this if we work together.’
“But none of us wanted to put our races in jeopardy for it, then nobody did.”
The team was put on the back foot late in the fifth hour when Dixon and the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P of Olivier Jarvis made contact, resulting in a right-rear puncture and trip to the garage due to radiator damage to the Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac.
It lost five laps due to the repairs and essentially took the No. 10 crew out of title contention, which Taylor said was just “survival” from that point forward.
“It looked like it was going to come down to a race between us and Ricky in the Penske car and we didn’t get any help so Ricky won the championship,” he said.
“For me, it doesn’t matter. I win whichever way.
“I’m extremely happy for Ricky; I’m proud of him so much, and Helio and Alex [Rossi]. This year Ricky won the championship in DPi and Jordan won the championship in GTLM and we as team won the Endurance Cup, so it’s not a bad year.”
Van der Zande said he felt the contact from the No. 77 Mazda was “very unnecessary” especially at such an early stage of the race.
The Dutchman qualified in second but was forced to serve a drive-through penalty early in the running for an improper start procedure.
However, it was the contact with Jarvis that upset him the most.
“At the end that really blew our chances,” Van der Zande told Sportscar365. “I think we had everything in our hands with Ricky being so far behind. It’s just a shame.
“I think we had a really good year. We tried to be very consistent. We had some bad luck as well like when we hit Montoya in pit lane and some other stuff like the electronic issues last race which really made a difference in the end.
“Even without that we still could have won the championship. We didn’t, that’s the reality, it’s time to move forward.
“I would have loved to go out with a bang with this team. We won the Endurance Cup, which is at least something. We’re going home with some sort of a trophy, and I think we got second in the championship.
“It’s not what I hoped for when I came here this weekend.
“I don’t think we had the speed in the car in the car in the race, but that’s not always necessary to win championships and I still think we could have done that.”
Updated at 10:30 a.m. to include additional context from Wayne Taylor and Travis Houge
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report