TORRANCE, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Acura Motorsports is partnering with Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing to field a pair of Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, beginning in 2021.
Meyer Shank Racing is the defending IMSA GTD class Champion and are the current leaders in all three major GTD title championships plus the Ohio-based team played a key role in the development of the successful Acura NSX GT3 Evo, parking it in victory lane in four consecutive seasons.
Wayne Taylor Racing has raced to two IMSA driver Championships and one IMSA team Championship in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class. WTR has also captured eight IMSA manufacturer championships and has scored multiple victories in endurance racing’s most iconic events: The Rolex 24 At Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, and Six Hours at Watkins Glen.
“It is a pleasure to announce that Wayne Taylor Racing will be joining the Acura ARX-05 IMSA program in 2021, along with Meyer Shank Racing, which will build on our very successful partnership by moving up to the prototype ranks,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura Brand Officer. “We’re confident that both teams will help us build on the successes we’ve achieved to date in IMSA competition, as we continue to apply Precision Crafted Performance to all of our activities – on the race circuits of North America, in our production vehicles and in the marketplace.”
“When Acura and HPD chose Meyer Shank Racing to debut the Acura NSX GT3 in 2017, it was a big moment in our history. I’m really proud of building a championship-winning program and everything that we’ve been able to accomplish together with the NSX,” said Michael Shank, co-owner of Meyer Shank Racing. “As a team, we’ve been working toward the opportunity to go and fight for overall wins for a long time, and I am eager to get going with this program. But we have some work to do first, and we are 100 percent focused on bringing another IMSA championship home with the Acura NSX in 2020.”
“I am extremely excited to have this opportunity given to me by HPD and Acura Motorsports,” said Wayne Taylor, owner of Wayne Taylor Racing. “Since getting to know everyone at HPD and Acura Motorsports, I feel that they have a lot of respect for the Wayne Taylor Racing family. What I really like is that they have the same passion and vision as I do. I am looking forward to running the DPi for the next few years. I am equally excited to be able to bring my long-term partnership with Konica Minolta, Rick Taylor and Michael Mathe to the program. We all can’t wait to get started.”
The Acura NSX program will continue in IMSA 2021.
JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac Wins 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sebastien Bourdais, driving without the top element of the rear wing of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, took home the overall win in IMSA’s 12-Hours of Sebring for JDC-Miller Motorsports and co-drivers Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval.
Bourdais crossed the finish line 1.45-seconds ahead of Harry Tincknell and the No. 55 Mazda. Bourdais said he lost the element with just under 19-minutes left in the event and was fortunate he didn’t lose control of the car.
“I’m just really lucky that I didn’t stuff it in Turn 17 before I made the adjustments,” Bourdais said. “That was a very, very close call there. At the same time, thankfully I had enough of a gap to (Tincknell) that he didn’t pass us by the time I collected myself. I didn’t know it was the rear wing until I got out of the car (in victory lane), but I knew something had happened aerodynamically.”
The No. 48 Cadillac co-driven by Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi and Simon Pagenaud finished third followed by the Acura Dpi’s of Meyer Shank Racing (Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla, Juan Pablo Montoya) and Wayne Taylor Racing (Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi).
The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac finished 2-laps down in sixth. The CGR Caddy was one of the dominant cars in the event but got clipped by the BMW of Connor De Phillippi with 71-minutes left in the race.
“It was very frustrating,” said Scott Dixon, who was behind the wheel of the Ganassi machine at the time. “It was a very late call from the pits, so I was scrambling to get everything undone. On my way into pit road there was another car there and I had nowhere to go. I feel bad for the team, because everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing did a fantastic job.”
The Ganassi team’s misfortune opened the door for Bourdais, who just put his head down and somehow kept Ticknell behind him.
“Every corner that was coming, I was like, ‘Man, how am I going to do this one?’” Bourdais said. “The flip side of (the broken wing) is that the car was extremely fast down the straightaway, too. I was very hard to pass there.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season resumes May 14-16 with the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
Heartbreak for Chip Ganassi Racing in Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to IMSA sports car racing was going along as planned in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race.
The No. 01 Cadillac Daytona Prototype International (DPi), driven by Renger Van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen and Scott Dixon, started seventh but quickly made their presence known leading 225 of the races 807-laps.
A battle to the end was shaping up between CGR and Wayne Taylor Racing in the race’s final half hour. CGR brought Van der Zande in for his final pit stop and WTR brought their new Acura ARX-05 to pit road and changed just left side tires and was able to get out ahead of the No. 01 by about 5-seconds.
Van der Zande, who used to drive for WTR, put the hammer down and chased down Filipe Albuquerque in an epic duel between the two drivers.
— IMSA (@IMSA) January 31, 2021
Disaster struck a few minutes later for the Ganassi team when Van der Zande had to come to pit road because of a cut right rear tire.
It is OVER for Renger Van Der Zande and Chip Ganassi Racing.
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) January 31, 2021
The Ganassi team quickly changed the tire but the battle was over at that point as WTR raced to the victory and CGR settled for a fifth place finish.
Team owner Chip Ganassi was proud of his team, especially since the program came together late in 2020.
Im so proud of our team performance this past weekend. Saturday was the 7th day we ran our new @cadillac DPi car. Not even a Covid scare could stop @CGRTeams. Fighting for the lead with 7minutes to go after 23h53m. I'm really proud of all of our men and women on this team.
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) February 1, 2021
Magnussen knew the team had a car capable of winning, which is something the second generation driver didn’t have a chance to do the past few years in Formula One.
If we hadn’t had a puncture with 5 laps to go, I think we would have had a really good chance of winning the race. Motorsport is tough sometimes. Thanks @CGRTeams for an awesome race car. Great job by my teammates @Rengervdz & @scottdixon9. 12h of Sebring next! pic.twitter.com/wHFDY2cOJG
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) February 1, 2021
The Ganassi team did serve notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Wayne Taylor Racing Wins Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) is the 2021 winner of the Rolex 24-Hours At Daytona endurance race.
WTR’s Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 crossed the finish line 4.704-seconds ahead of the Ally Cadillac of Action Express Racing to capture the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class victory as well as the overall victory.
The victory was the third straight for team owner Wayne Taylor, who switched manufacturers from Cadillac to Acura in the off-season, and WTR’s fifth overall.
Filipe Albuquerque drove the final stint of the race and survived a late race battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Renger Van der Zande, who was forced to pit road after cutting a tire with just over 7-minutes remaining in the twice around-the-clock race.
“He was fast,” said Albuquerque of Van der Zande. “He was faster than me, obviously. But I thought there must be tire trouble. Physics tells you that. When you push too hard, something happens. When you go off track as well, something goes bad. I was not expecting that to happen. When he blew, we were lucky. But there is nobody who has ever won Daytona or any championship without luck.”
WTR’s victory tied CGR’s record of three straight overall wins in the event. The Ganassi team went back-to-back-to-back from 2006-2008.
Co-drivers Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor (son of team owner Wayne) exalted in winning the Rolex watch, which is awarded to all of the class winner.
“So much went into this,” said Ricky Taylor, who scored the second overall Rolex victory of his career. “It was definitely a test of trust and a testament to preparation and sticking to a plan. We skipped all of the offseason testing because the guys needed time to do everything properly. They know how to win this race. I feel like we were all lucky to be a part of it.”
The next race for WeatherTech IMSA Sports Car Series is the 12-Hours of Sebring, March 17-20 at Sebring International Raceway.