Ricky Taylor admits he doesn’t yet know where the lone Riley Mk. 30 Gibson will stack up in the stout 25-car LMP2 field at Le Mans but believes they could be at a significant advantage if rain impacts the French enduro.
Taylor, who is so far undefeated in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition this year with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Cadillac DPi-V.R, will team with Jeroen Bleekemolen and team owner/driver Ben Keating in a one-off Le Mans entry with the Multimatic-Riley-built LMP2 car, which makes its European debut.
While having completed five days of pre-Le Mans testing between sessions at Road Atlanta, NOLA Motorsports Park and Watkins Glen, the 27-year-old second-generation driver said Sunday’s official test day will give them a better sense of where they stand amongst the competition.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” Taylor told Sportscar365. “The testing went well, we’ve got a really good lineup and a great team that has a lot of Le Mans experience with Bill [Riley] and all the guys. It’s hard to tell.
“We’ll find out on the test day. We’ll find out if we’re going to be really competitive, or we’re not, and then we’ll work on the week off to see if we need to improve stuff.
“The nice thing about going there is everybody is on the same [engine], we’ve got different tires on than most of the guys so that sets us apart as well, so it’ll be interesting.”
Taylor, who has put in starring drives to help deliver wins at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring this year, said it’s difficult to compare the Cadillac DPi to the Riley LMP2 car, especially having been part of the Dallara-chassied car’s development from day one.
“Obviously it’s different tires, different engine, different chassis.” he said.
“Even if I had to try and compare a lot of stuff, it would be hard, even to make the Riley improve when we’re testing, offering my advice, it’s hard to give concrete feedback because they’re so different.
“But there’s some stuff that I’ve been able to bring I think.
“From our early days of testing [the Cadillac DPi] I’ve learned so much from our engineers what I should be feeling to make the car go fast.
“I’m still learning, but obviously the Riley has a lot less laps than us in the Dallara.”
With the American squad being only one of three LMP2 teams opting for Michelins, Taylor feels that could play into their advantage, especially considering the French tire manufacturer has been known for its superior wet weather tire.
Coupled with the car’s success in the rain-impacted Rolex 24 at Daytona with Visit Florida Racing, which scored a third place overall finish, behind the two Cadillacs, Taylor, who makes his second Le Mans LMP2 start, is confident of a potential positive outcome.
“I think [we] made a great choice to go with Michelin just to set ourselves apart from everybody because Le Mans is such a difficult place to win no matter what, and I think if you’re on something different, if it rains, we’re at a big advantage,” he said.
“That would make our odds so much better. Rain is something we’re hoping for, but I’m hoping our pace in the dry is good too.
“We’ll only find out once we get there, so I think we know we’ll be good in the rain.
“Seeing what Visit Florida did was encouraging, but I think between our driver lineup, the experience of the team, the preparation of the team and the reliability that they proved in Daytona should all bode well for us.”