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Taylors Stay Undefeated With Victory At COTA

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 6 2017

The Taylor Brothers collected their fourth straight victory in the WeathTech Sports Car Championship Series Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

Brothers/drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor went 4-0 on the season Saturday when they drove their No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing  Cadillac DPi-V.R to victory  in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas.

Their fourth straight win  marked the longest streak in series history and the longest in major U.S. sports car racing competition since Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr won eight straight in the 2013 American Le Mans Series.

It was also the 11th career victory for the Taylor brothers, making them the winningest drivers in series history. And, it was their second consecutive victory at Circuit of The Americas, as they also won in Austin last September.

They led two of three pre-qualifying practice sessions and Ricky Taylor won the pole in record fashion. In the race, it was more of the same.

 

“It was really nice today,” said Ricky Taylor. “It was one of the best race cars I’ve ever had. The team has just done an amazing preparation for this car. We’re just getting to know it more and more. Every race weekend we’re learning. This weekend, it shows how much we’ve developed through the year. We unloaded off the truck really strong, then qualified really well. It was fantastic.”

The 27-year-old elder Taylor brother held the lead for the entirety of his driving stint before turning the car over to Jordan Taylor at the one-hour, 45-minute mark in the race. The younger Taylor brought it home with without any serious challenges, speeding to an 18.855-second victory over Dane Cameron and Eric Curran in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R.

“I think we surprised ourselves,” Jordan Taylor said. “We knew why the car was fast yesterday because we made a qualifying setup for the car. And then we went back to race settings and we thought it’d come back to us. It came back a little bit.

“We didn’t have the same gap, but I think it shows how well our team is operating with this Cadillac. We understand how it works and I think it goes back to September of last year when we were one of the first to get the car and start testing it. We’ve done a lot of work for it, but I’m happy we got our four race wins now and we can move on to Detroit.”

It was the second podium sweep in four races for the new Cadillac DPi program, as Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi finished third in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. The No. 5 made it into podium position with slightly more than 10 minutes remaining, when the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi being driven by Ryan Dalziel caught fire.

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In Prototype Challenge, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 pairing of James French and Pato O’Ward also continue to dominate.

After winning the opening two rounds of the season in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, French and O’Ward picked up their third straight win on Saturday.

“We had a bit of a challenge in the middle of the race,” O’Ward said. “We were about 50 seconds behind P1. I sort of put my head down and tried to do as perfect of laps as they could be.

“I was catching and catching, then when it was time for the last pit stop, we just did a splash of fuel and didn’t change any drivers or tires and we came out in first.  The plan was just to hold them off then. They got a drive-through (penalty), so it gave me a chance to just mellow out and finish the race like that.”

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In GT Le Mans, the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen survived a multi-car accident on the first corner of the first lap Saturday to win at COTA.

Starting in sixth, Magnussen took the inside line in Turn 1 and by the time he cleared the melee, he had moved to third. By lap 27 of 73, the No. 3 Corvette moved into the lead and never gave it up, winning its second race of the season by 2.498 seconds over the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims.

“I definitely made the right choice to pick the inside line,” said Magnussen. “Everything was happening on the outside and a few cars got in big trouble and had some heavy damage. I’m really happy I escaped all that without a scratch.”

The Turn 1 incident damaged five cars, including the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs that entered the weekend first and third in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) standings. The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, and No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner all suffered major damage.

The No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Dirk Mueller and the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR of Wolf Henzler also were involved and lost multiple laps due to damage obtained from the incident.

It was the strongest run of the season for BMW with polesitter John Edwards and co-driver Martin Tomczyk in BMW Team RLL’s No. 24 BMW M6 rounding out the class podium. Edwards led 22 laps on the day, but a pit road penalty put the team too far behind the race-winning Corvette to contend for the win.

 

“I think it is the perfect way to come back after what happened at Long Beach,” said Garcia. “It’s a shame the No. 4 car had that contact in turn one., but it’s three wins in a row for Corvette Racing. I think no one expected that, but that is what it takes for those results: Zero mistakes.”

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In GT Daytona, Texas native Ben Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen got the in the victory in their Mercedes AMG.

The win was Bleekemolen’s third at the track, after joining Keating on the top step of the podium in 2014 and 2015.

 

“Winning again, the home race…I love this place,” said Keating. “Nothing beats winning at home.”

It’s been impressive debut season for Mercedes AMG as well, with Keating and Bleekemolen scoring the third consecutive in the marque’s fourth race.

“We knew we had a strong car for the race, we knew we were in it,” added Bleekemolen. “For the fourth race in a row we had a perfect race, no mistakes. It’s been an unbelievable season so far. I can’t believe that not the smallest thing has gone wrong so far.”

Also having a strong start to the season is Ferrari, with the runner-up No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and co-drivers Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finishing on the podium for the third race this season.

The No. 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Tristan Vautier and Kenny Habul led two laps to round out the podium, their second of the season.

The next WeatherTech Championship race is the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Corporation on Saturday, June 3. The 100-minute race will feature the Prototype, PC and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 6 2017
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