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WTR Drivers Enjoying “Friendly Rivalry” in LMP2

IMSA DPi stars looking forward to LMP2 battle in rival teams at Le Mans…

Photo: Paul Marquardt

Wayne Taylor Racing drivers Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Will Stevens are enjoying a “friendly rivalry” at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where each of the drivers are competing for a different LMP2 team in the French endurance classic.

Normally, the three drivers share an Acura ARX-05 DPi in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Taylor and Albuquerque forming the full-season lineup and Stevens joining for the Michelin Endurance Cup races.

However, at Le Mans, the co-drivers are rivals as Taylor joins Cool Racing for the event while Albuquerque and Stevens form part of WEC lineups at United Autosports and JOTA, respectively.

“I think a friendly rivalry is the way to put it because we’re all still buddies,” Taylor told Sportscar365 about the unique situation.

“We see each other every day at the track here. We all want to win more than anything but at the same time, we understand racing.

“Hopefully, we all have a long life in this sport, and we’ll all have our shot.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to go back and do Petit Le Mans together. So we all have to somewhat keep on good terms.”

The three drivers are uniquely qualified to race against each other, having completed multiple endurance events as a trio.

Taylor holds out hope that he will be part of an on-track encounter with either driver during this weekend’s race.

“I look forward to it, if we happen to catch each other on track,” said the two-time IMSA champion.

“I’ll definitely be asking who’s in the car because it does make a difference. I don’t know Phil Hanson or Will Owen so well.

“But if I catch Filipe on track, I know exactly what he likes, what he doesn’t like; he’s very, very good here.

“He knows this car very well, also and the same thing goes for Will, you kind of know what makes each other tick.

“But with Filipe specifically, I’ve been racing with or against [him] for quite a few years now, almost close to eight years. So I know him very well and we’ve come across each other on track many times.”

Before they became co-drivers, Taylor and Albuquerque had an infamous coming together in the closing stages of the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona. This resulted in Albuquerque spinning and Taylor going on to victory.

“I try to never hold a grudge against any driver, unless [they are] purely being mean, like destroying somebody’s race when you’re like multiple laps down,” Albuquerque said.

“But when you are racing for the same purpose – I know that if it’s going to be the last lap, me, Ricky and Will, we are all going to take the maximum risk, because we are all going for the ultimate race win, and we should not blame anybody.

“Because in the end of the day, that’s how it is. If somebody is more more optimistic than the other, they don’t have anything to lose. So we just need to play the game and then it’s down to the race director to police that.” 

During a previous encounter at Le Mans in 2019, both drivers also were issued drive-through penalties for overtaking under safety car while battling for position.

Stevens, the team’s third driver, reckoned the battling between the three could actually be more intense on track because they have extensive knowledge of each other’s driving, which would allow them to take more risks.

“Because we trust each other, we know what each other can do,” Stevens told Sportscar365.  

“You can actually fight harder in those circumstances because we know it’s not an unknown.

“When you come up to drivers and you don’t really know how they’re going to behave, then you leave more room for those guys because you don’t know necessarily how they’re going to react.

“So we know each other well and that makes it more fun when we’re on track.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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