Wayne Taylor says it’s been a thrash to prepare for the start of the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season after only taking delivery of his team’s first Acura ARX-05 chassis in November.
After four years running a Cadillac DPi-V.R, Wayne Taylor Racing made its on track debut with its new Acura DPi on Tuesday with drivers Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi, and Helio Castroneves.
Taylor said the team’s work to prepare its new cars has been a non-stop process of rebuilding the two chassis it received from Team Penske while building up new car as well.
“We really got lucky that [IMSA] changed the Roar from the beginning of January to the weekend before the 24 hour because we would never have been ready,” said Taylor.
“When we received the two cars after Sebring, these two cars had been driven to the end of their life. The had nothing, basically, on the car that could be used.
“So we ordered two new cars and at the same time we took an existing car and rebuilt that one with new components, and then we built another new car.
“We didn’t go and test because we felt we needed the time. The guys have been literally working 24/7 and are really, really tired.
“We ran at Sebring on Tuesday and got Alex, Helio, Ricky, and Felipe through the car. There didn’t seem to be any problems.
“It’s been very tiring for the guys Our chief engineer was doing shocks in the back of the truck one night and he looked at his watch and it was 3 a.m…. So he just decided to sleep in the trailer.
“This is the hardest race to prepare for and not only is it building the cars and everything, we have to learn the cars, we have to learn how to do quick pit stops, quick driver changes, all the different things that you do.
“It’s hats off to all of the guys for doing such a great job.”
While the team is new to the Acura DPi platform, Rossi, Castroneves, and Taylor all have extensive experience from their time with Acura Team Penske.
While Albuquerque didn’t have any laps in the car prior to the test at Sebring, he has logged thousands of miles in the Oreca 07 chassis that serves as the base for the car.
With only a few months to prepare for this season, Taylor said choosing drivers who know the car inside and out was crucial.
“Clearly this year it was a no-brainer to hire Alex and Helio,” he said. “The two of them, with Ricky, have spent three years in the car.
“To have Filipe as Ricky’s teammate for the full season, who’s just won the championship in the WEC with the same [base] car [Oreca 07], between Alexander, Helio and Ricky having been in the car for three years, they’re actually teaching us some of the stuff that we haven’t learned because we just don’t have that amount of time.
“Filipe is lapping it all up, he’s getting intimate with the drivers, and he’s really easy to work with.
“The big job now is really getting the team to execute. To execute in these races is critical. The one thing I can say for sure: we have the right driver lineup. That’s 100%.”
Rossi ‘Very Impressed’ With WTR
Michelin Endurance Cup driver Rossi said he’s been impressed with how quickly WTR has come to grips with the their new car.
“For me it was very impressive to watch the team take on a really big challenge and a very advanced car in a small time frame,” said Rossi.
“To go out [Tuesday] and to have pretty much no issues whatsoever is a testament to this group that Wayne has put together. It’s so obvious why they’ve had so much success.
“There’s a lot of work ahead of us still, that was just a preliminary getting our feet wet with the car and getting everyone acclimatized, but the Roar is going to be very important for us to continue on that path and the same trajectory we’re currently on.
“The continuity that we have as drivers is hopefully going to help that process go as smoothly as possible.”