Wayne Taylor Racing and Acura Team Penske are banking that their two-driver approach in this weekend’s six-hour enduro at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta will play into their hands due to the limited track time available that could place three-driver lineups at a disadvantage.
Both the championship-leading No. 10 WTR Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe, plus the pair Team Penske Acura ARX-05s, have opted not to add their drivers to their lineups for the second round of the Michelin Endurance Cup.
It compares to Mazda, which has brought back both Ryan Hunter-Reay and Olivier Pla, with the Cadillac DPis from Action Express Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports adding Filipe Albuquerque and Tristan Vautier, respectively, to its full-season pairings.
While the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen has typically seen similar split approaches, Saturday’s race is expected to be more physically challenging on drivers due to the weather and demanding nature of the 2.54-mile circuit.
However, with only two hours of practice in a condensed two-day format, Taylor believes a two-driver approach is the way to go.
“It is going to be hot and six hours is quite a tough race at Road Atlanta,” he told Sportscar365. “It’s a pretty tough track. But having your two regular guys, nobody has to take time getting up to speed.
“We’re all kind of fresh and up to speed on everything.
“There is such limited practice now with the schedule. We have a lot on the list to get through. So adding another driver in there would make it more complicated.
“We’re all up for the job. All we’ve been doing is sitting home and training. There’s no excuse on the physical side of it.
“I think on the strategy side of it, it should only be positives, for the fact that we don’t have to compromise as much.”
Briscoe revealed they had considered bringing back Scott Dixon to WTR’s lineup for this weekend.
“It could be an advantage to have three drivers,” he admitted. “I actually brought it up to the team to see if we could bring Scott in.
“I think there’s pros and cons as well because there’s very limited practice.
“Bringing in a third driver, you’re splitting the seat time between three drivers in practice when there’s not a lot of practice. You’ve got two one-hour sessions and the likelihood of red flags.
“We’re going into this race where we have quite a list of things we want to test on the car.
“We’ve been learning a lot at the last few rounds. Our setup is taking a slightly different direction to where it’s been in the past. I think we’ve got a lot to evaluate when we get to the track.
“I think the big reason for keeping two drivers is good for us because we can really hone in on that.
“But it’s been a talking point between Renger and myself and team where we need to take care of our bodies and be fit and ready and make sure we recover between stints.”
While currently enjoying a six-point lead in the DPi championship, the No. 10 Cadillac hasn’t won since the season-opening Rolex 24, which featured the Kiwi in the lineup.
“If you see Scott Dixon winning everything he’s driving, then it would be nice to have him around and in our car,” van der Zande said.
“Yes we discussed it but it’s a two-day event with little practice sessions and from that point you have to make sure you’re fit enough to do it and I think Ryan and I are very fit to do it. So we go like that.”
While utilizing two-driver squads this weekend, both WTR and Penske will return to Road Atlanta for next month’s Motul Petit Le Mans with its full endurance rosters in Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi, respectively.