Wayne Taylor Racing Gets First Victory In Rolex 24
Rickey Taylor bumped his way past Filipe Albuquerque with seven minutes remaining, survived an IMSA review of the bumping incident and went on to bag an emotional victory in the 55th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Taylor, driving the No. 10 Cadillac DPi, gave the team owned by his father – Wayne Taylor – its first victory in the Rolex 24 hour race.
It also gave him, his brother Jordan Taylor, four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon and veteran Max Angelelli, who was driving for the final time in his career, shiny new Rolex wristwatches that go to co-drivers of the winning cars.
“What an amazing experience,” Gordon said. “I’m just so honored to be a part of this.”
Albuquerque finished second in the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi. The No. 90 Multimatic/Riley driven by Marc Goosens in the final stint, finished third – a lap back.
Ricky Taylor choked up with tears in Victory Lane. “I’m not going to be able to speak,” he said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Winning in other categories were Dirk Mueller driving a Ford GT for Chip Ganassi Racing in GT Le Mans; Michael Christensen driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R in GT Daytona; and Nicholas Boulle in Prototype Challenge.
The race began in dry, cloudy weather and with the two Action Express Racing Cadillacs – which both started on the front row – setting the pace.
About four hours in, Angelelli, used a caution and nifty driving to overcome a 42-second deficit and moved from third to first place in the WTR Caddy. The No. 10 drivers held the lead for much of the night and through the rain that poured down in the darkness.
The WTR car was in the lead when it pitted under caution at about 9 a.m. but lost that lead to Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac.
Angelelli recaptured the lead on a restart with four and a half hours to go on a drying track. Angelelli built on his lead over the next half hour but with about 4:17 left, he overcooked it heading into the “bus stop” chicane and spun. He got back on track with the lead but just barely as Barbosa was right on his rear bumper.
With 4:05 to go, Angelelli pitted – for the last time in his career as he had announced his retirement – and gave the lead up to Renger Van Der Zande in the No. 90 Multimatic/Riley.
Jordan Taylor took over for Angelelli and took the lead back when Van Der Zande pitted with about four hours to go. Second was Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac – only second as he had spun on cold tires after pitting 10 minutes before and while running ahead of the No. 10.
Taylor was still in the lead when, with two hours to go, a caution was called. A slow stop cost the No. 10 Caddy the lead as the No. 90 Gibson Riley with Rene Rast driving came out first, Albuquerque came out second and Taylor third.
Both Albuquerque and Taylor quickly passed Rast.
With 1:26 to go, Taylor muscled his way past Albuquerque heading into the chicane. Taylor blew out to a big lead but with just over an hour to go, another caution flag waved and that again cost the No. 10 car the lead.
On the restart, Taylor locked up the brakes in an effort to avoid as car which was slow to get up to speed. That dropped the No. 10 several seconds behind Albuquerque.
With 36 minutes to go, Albuquerque pitted for his final scheduled stop. That put Taylor briefly in the lead but on the next lap, Taylor pitted as well. He emerged over eight seconds behind Albuquerque.
The yellow lit up again with 28 minutes to go. On the restart, Albuquerque got a big jump. Taylor, however, quickly closed the gap and with 17 minute to go they went side by side heading into the International Horseshoe turn.
Taylor backed off and then fell back for a couple laps. With 10 minutes to go, Taylor had caught Albuquerque again and again pulled alongside before backing off.
With seven minutes to go, Taylor moved alongside of Albuquerque as they headed into the infield off the banking. They touched and and Albuquerque spun.
IMSA officials reviewed the incident, took no action and Taylor drove on to get the win.
In GT Le Mans, seven cars headed into the final hour on the same lap; three Ford GTs (those of drivers Dirk Mueller, Tony Kanaan and Olivier Pla) , two Porsche 911 RSRs (Patrick Pilet and Laurens Vanthoor), a Ferrari 488 (James Calado) and a Corvette C7.R (Antonio Garcia).
With 35 minutes to go, Calado had the lead with Mueller second and Pilet third. With 34 minutes to go, Mueller bumped his way to the lead and Pilet followed him past Calado’s Ferrari.
With 20 minutes to go, Mueller had the lead on the final restart of the day but Pilet began hammering away at the Ford GT’s rear bumper. The two stayed close, with Pilet making several unsuccessful moves to get past Mueller.
Over the final several minutes, Pilet fell back and had to hold off Calado’s Ferrari to secure second place.
In GT Daytona, Christensen held off the Audi Christopher Mies to get the win. Third was Jeroen Bleekemolen in a Mercedes AMG.
– In Hour 2, Scott Pruett, one of the most successful and experienced drivers in the field, spun his Lexus RCF GT3 car and slammed the wall. The Lexus, making its GTD debut, was damaged upon repair. The other Lexus spun unassisted with just under five hours remaining with Jack Hawksworth driving.
– In Hour 3, Jeff Gordon of Wayne Taylor Racing, making his second start in the Rolex and first since 2007 got into a minor wreck. He made contact with Tom Long in the No. 70 Mazda prototype, which had failed to stop for a red light at pit out. Gordon’s spun the Mazda but suffered no apparent damage.
– In Hour 5, the No. 31 Action Express Car that had qualified P2 hit the outside wall on the high banks. The car continued on at speed but unseen damage eventually took its toll.
– Overnight, Brendan Hartley in the No. 22 Nissan DPi made contact with a Porsche GT car and slammed the wall while leading.
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