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Special feature
IMSA Watkins Glen

Taylor vows Acura can ‘gain back the points we lost’ in IMSA title chase

Former champion believes that ending his losing streak can signal “a little charge here” in pursuit of title-dominating Porsche Penske crew

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque

Ricky Taylor believes Acura remains in the IMSA SportsCar Championship title hunt after he and team-mate Filipe Albuquerque ended their win drought last time out on the streets of Detroit.

As a result of their victory, Taylor and Albuquerque’s Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 has risen to sixth in points, 239 off the leading Porsche of Dane Cameron and Felipe Nasr – which has been top of the pile since winning the season-opening Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

They head into this weekend’s six-hour race at Watkins Glen keen to maintain momentum, and Taylor reckons his epic late-race pass on Porsche’s Mathieu Jaminet to grab victory in Detroit can be a turning point.

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque

Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images

“It was a rough start to the year, and it was nice to turn it around at Detroit,” said Taylor. “Historically, our team has been a strong starter, and kinda holds on to the finish, so there’s no reason why we can’t make up what we’ve lost until Detroit. If we’ve lost that much, hopefully we can gain it back.

“There are still a lot of cars at the top of the charts, and unique to this season those cars are quite close. But there are still quite a few races to go – with a lot of [stormy] weather expected this weekend, so a lot can still happen.

“I think like in 2020 [when he won the title in a Penske-run Acura DPi with Helio Castroneves], going out and winning a lot of races is all we can do.”

Ricky Taylor & Helio Castroneves won 2020 DPi title in Penske-run Acura

Ricky Taylor & Helio Castroneves won 2020 DPi title in Penske-run Acura

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

Taylor revealed that post-race investigation by his team showed that its Detroit victory shouldn’t have happened: “The ironic thing was that on our analysis of Detroit, we were actually the slowest car – so the slowest car ended up winning the race!

“I think that showed just how wild it was, and how much chaos that race produced.”

Taylor boasts 25 wins spanning 10 years in IMSA’s top class but the losing streak since Road America in 2022 has been one of his longest win droughts of his career.

“There’s a lot we can gain,” he added. “Coming out of a drought of not winning, I think we were kinda trying to force it a little bit, after not winning for so long. I think that adds to the pressure and compounds it. Then you start to think nothing can go right.

“Now we’ve got that win, the pressure is kinda off now – and we can let things come to us more naturally now. We can do what we do, and hopefully our results will speak for themselves.

“The team has been really strong, especially with our two cars working really well together, there’s been a lot of opportunities for good results that just didn’t materialize for us.

“If the opportunity is there, I think we can make a little charge here. We definitely still have our sights set on the championship, even though it’s a big points spread. We’re coming off a high, and hopefully we can carry that momentum.”

#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz

#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

One curveball ahead of the Six Hours of The Glen is a weather forecast that promises a heady mix of heatwave and thunderstorms at one of America’s greatest road courses. A 56-car entry for the four-class endurance event will pack Watkins Glen’s 3.4-mile layout, making it a huge challenge to conquer.

“The funny thing about the rain we’re expecting is that three of our four drivers haven’t driven the car in the rain yet,” admitted Taylor. “So Louis [Deletraz, who shares the sister No. 40 car with Ricky’s brother Jordan Taylor] is the only one who’s driven this car in the wet. He qualified on pole for Petit last year, in the damp, and it didn’t look bad.

“The guys coming back from Le Mans are ready to go with plenty of fresh rain experience! Looks like rain almost every single session this weekend, so all of us want to drive as much as possible to get a feel for it – I’ll certainly be putting my hand up.”

#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz

#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Watkins Glen is a track that the team has targeted improved performance and has tested recently at a circuit that’s had some significant changes in terms of fresh curbs being added at the Bus Stop since last year’s event here.

“The first section is OK for us, but the big curb [at the left-hand elements] is off limits for us,” he explained. “There’s a bit of a sweet spot behind the ‘hot dog’ where if you can get your front wheel in the right spot, it’s kinda smooth, but the chances of missing that, it’s quite a big consequence for us.

“I’ll be interesting to see how the different cars handle it, and we’re definitely going to work on our car to see if we can get it to be more compliant over those. But I don’t think all of [the curb] is going to be useable.”

Taylor is hoping that the track will play to the ORECA-chassised Acura’s strength of coping with the low ride-height required here, which Porsche fell foul of last year when its winning car was disqualified for excessive plank wear – handing victory to BMW.

“One standout of the Acura is that it’s really efficient, you can run it really low, and Watkins Glen is such a smooth track,” he said. “It’s also one of the higher-energy tracks that we go to, so we’re using the hard tire, which will be hard to warm-up as usual. It’s going to be in the 90[F]s when it’s dry, so I think that caters to us a little bit.

“Even though Acura has won two races this year, the motivation is really high that we still need to improve. Watkins isn’t historically a good track for us, we had some reliability issues last year, but we were really quick.”

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