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Taylor Racing Needs Concrete Results At Sebring

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 19 2015

Wayne Taylor Racing started the 2015 IMSA season headed in the wrong direction. (Photo courtesy of IMSA)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Team owner Wayne Taylor of Wayne Taylor Racing was looking to make a statement in the Tudor United SportsCar Championship race at Daytona in January. Just not the kind of statement he ended up making. Make that, a statement he ended up issuing.

Taylor, whose Daytona Prototype Corvette dominated a large slice of the Rolex 24 two months ago, was stripped of its podium finish after the race when IMSA officials ruled that his team had violated the regulation on the amount of time a driver could spend in the cockpit during the race.

The statement Taylor issued as a result expressed his disappointment and then ended with, “We look forward to the next round of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship at Sebring.”

The Mobil 1 Twelves Hours of Sebring is scheduled for this coming Sunday at the converted World War II bomber base and Taylor and his drivers – sons Jordan and Ricky Taylor and Max Angelelli – will finally get their chance to de-egg their faces and make a positive statement about their still-in-tact goal of winning the Tudor championship this year.

“With nine races to go, we know it is possible,” Ricky Taylor said of climbing out of the the 17-point hole the team finds itself in as a result of the 24 penalty. “I think we still have to be aggressive because we never know what everyone else is going to do, obviously, and we’re starting so far behind and it’s so competitive. We need to continually put pressure on the people in front of us. I’m actually quite excited about it. We have a cool opportunity to make something special happen. It’s always more fun to be chasing than playing the points game and finishing conservatively. That’s kind of boring. This is going to be fun, from a driver’s perspective, at least.”

Because the penalty incurred at Daytona resulted in WTR’s No. 10 Corvette picking up last-place points (16), it will start Sebring those 17 points behind the No. 5 Corvette DP of Action Express Racing, which finished second at Daytona but is tops among teams scheduled to run the full season.

Though Action Express ended up on top of the full-time effort heap, the WTR car led a race-best 265 laps in the 24. Hence an urgency to get back at it this weekend.

“We dominated that race at Daytona for all intents and purposes,” Wayne Taylor said. “We finished third on the racetrack and being in position to possibly win the race. As it turned out, we got penalized and lost our third-place points and the prize money that goes with it, which is certainly disappointing. But 17 points is really not a whole lot of points when you have nine races to go, and three of them are the long-distance races at Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta. We’ve come back from this position before. We just need to take it race by race and do everything it takes to win the championship. Now, we’re in a position where we’ll have to take it one race at a time. We have the best drivers and the best team in the field. We’ll be alright.”

Taylor’s team will be making just its second start at bumpy old Sebring.

The first outing was not all that wonderful as three on-track incidents – the final one with just 90 minutes to go – resulted in a seventh-place finish last year, which was the first year the Tudor series’ put former Rolex Grand-Am teams and drivers on its concrete runways.

“Daytona is a 24-hour and Sebring is a 12-hour, but Sebring is almost a tougher race – definitely from a physical point of view,” Jordan Taylor said. “Sebring is way more physical for a driver mentally and physically, and it’s a lot tougher of a racetrack on the cars because it’s so rough and bumpy. If you’re going to have any car issues during the season, they’re likely going to happen at Sebring because it’ll shake any problems you might have right out of or off the car.

“It’s a tough race with a lot of high- and low-speed corners, so with all the cars you have to deal with out there, there is traffic to deal with all over the track, every lap. You really need to be aggressive because the pace is so competitive, but you also have to be careful about when and where to take calculated risks, which are the name of the game there.”

Last week, the WTR Corvette produced big speed in a test at the 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring circuit.

Great news for a team that could use some of that right now.

“We had a very positive test,” Angelelli, who will drive the endurance races with the Taylor brothers this year, said, “which we rate as a very good test. Hopefully we are not mistaken, but we had a good indication that our car is better than last year. I consider that as a better starting point for when we come back this week than when we started the race week last year.”

A good finish at Sebring would also help the team forget the embarrassment of Daytona this year.

“We’ll just have to go out and be perfect with the car preparation and the setup,” Wayne Taylor, who won Sebring as a driver, said, “perfect on the pit stops, and perfect on our strategy.”

Oh, and perfect at keeping an eye on cockpit time for the drivers.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 19 2015
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