WAYNE TAYLOR RACING WINS THIRD CONSECUTIVE ROLEX 24 AT DAYTONA

Konica Minolta Acura driven by Albuquerque, Castroneves, Rossi, and Taylor ties record for most consecutive overall Rolex 24 wins

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The Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, which won the 2021 Rolex 24

Austin Travis, Editor-in-Chief

The world felt just a bit back to normal, as IMSA came to Daytona Beach for it’s annual 24-hour endurance race at the Daytona International Speedway, the Rolex 24. The 59th edition of the prestigious sports car event didn’t disappoint at all throughout the 24 hours and ended with a familiar team in victory lane, as the Wayne Taylor Racing(WTR) team won the overall event and the DPi class for the third consecutive year and fifth time overall. The battle for the win came down to the end as Renger Van der Zande, driving the Chip Ganassi Racing(CGR) #01 Cadillac, was catching up to the WTR #10 Acura, which was being driven by Filipe Albuquerque. Van der Zande, who used to drive for the WTR program but was released after the 2020 season, was nearly caught up to Albuquerque until a punctured right rear tire with about 7 minutes left sent Van der Zande to the pits and essentially secured the win for Albuquerque, barring any major mishaps. “I could see his eyes in my mirrors,” Albuquerque said of van der Zande. “He was so hungry for this, especially with the whole story of leaving Wayne Taylor. I was lucky that they had a puncture.” (AP 2021) Albuquerque brought the car home with the win, earning his second Rolex 24 win (he won it back in 2018) and earned Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves, and Alexander Rossi their second, first, and first Rolex 24 wins, respectively.

While they’ve won five overall Rolex 24’s, this one was especially huge for the WTR team, as they switched from Cadillac to Acura starting this season, so this year’s Rolex 24 was their first race with the new car. Despite the manufacturer change, the team was still dominant on the high banks of Daytona, per usual. Taylor, Castroneves, and Rossi have all previously driven the Acura car for Team Penske (who dropped out of IMSA at the conclusion of the 2020 season), so they were acclimated to the car better than Albuquerque. However, Rossi only ran a limited schedule in that car due to Indycar obligations, but it was helpful for the team to have multiple drivers who were familiar with the car. “I was getting a whole new car, with a whole new engine, with a whole new partnership, and I thought I needed something to be consistent. So I hired all the same drivers Roger (Penske) had,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. (AP, 2021)

Ricky Taylor was in the car late in the race with the lead and was given the option to finish the race, but unselfishly chose to let Albuquerque finish out the race, as he felt that it gave them the best chance at bringing home the win, as Albuquerque was more well-rested at that point as opposed to the fatigued Taylor, who had already been in car for a while on that stint. “We decided we wanted somebody as fresh as possible in the car,” Ricky Taylor said. “He got in there and was an absolute monster and carried it at the end.” (AP, 2021) Albuquerque was a monster in that car, as he had the fastest lap average on the team en route to the win.

Wayne Taylor is the father of Ricky as well as Jordan Taylor, who was on the winning Corvette team in the GTLM class, so it was a special day for the Taylor family. “Today is probably one of the best days I’ve ever had,” Wayne Taylor said, equating it to the 2017 WTR victory when both sons drove for him. “We won it with Ricky, and Jordan won the GT class with Corvette, and then the Wayne Taylor Racing program won it overall. “As a family, it was a very, very special day.” (AP, 2021) Jordan’s #3 Corvette C8.R team won the GTLM class, giving the team its first Rolex 24 win since 2016. However, driver Antonio Garcia tested positive for COVID-19 during the race, as he was tested prior to flying back home to Spain after the race. As a result, the team was operating on only two available drivers in the closing hours of the race, which were Taylor and Nicky Catsburg. The other Corvette, the #4, took second place in the class, giving the Corvette team a sweep of the top two spots for the first time since 2016, which was the last time they won the race. “It’s great for Corvette to get their first endurance win with the C8.R,” Taylor said. “Last year, we obviously won six sprint races and the championship, but the one that was missing was the endurance win, so to start out 2021 with the Rolex 24 win is amazing, and to do it with Nicky and Antonio. It was our first win as a trio so so that’s definitely special and definitely makes us more hungry to win Sebring 12 Hour next.” (Cain, 2021)

 

Written on February 3rd, 2021

Sources:

Associated Press(31 January 2021). Wayne Taylor Racing Wins Record-Tying Third Straight Rolex 24 at Daytona. Retrieved from ESPN, on 3 February 2021, www.espn.com/racing/story/_/id/30812768/wayne-taylor-racing-wins-record-tying-third-straight-rolex-24-daytona.

Cain, Holly(2 February 2021). Taylor Completes Rolex 24 Family Sweep with GTLM Triumph. Retrieved from Speedway Digest – Home for NASCAR News, on 3 February 2021, www.speedwaydigest.com/index.php/news/racing-news/60412-taylor-completes-rolex-24-family-sweep-with-gtlm-triumph.