The No. 10 Acura Stretches its DPi Lead with a WeatherTech Raceway Win, as Does the No. 52 ORECA in LMP2
By Jeff Olson
MONTEREY, Calif. – Ricky Taylor finished it, but Filipe Albuquerque’s earlier effort may have won the race.
Albuquerque fought issues related to a blocked brake air duct, then handed the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 to Taylor, who regained control of the lead with 25 minutes remaining to lead the duo to victory Sunday in the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The victory padded the pair’s lead in the driver standings for the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. They now lead Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr, who finished third Sunday in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, by 100 points with just two races remaining in the 2021 season.
As Albuquerque led the field during his second stint, sensors indicated elevated temperatures in the car’s right rear tire. Wayne Taylor Racing engineers atop the pit stand suspected the air duct leading to the brake was blocked by debris, but Albuquerque needed to stay on track until the next scheduled pit stop.
“I started to lose it, and it was like, ‘OK, boys, how many laps to go (before the next stop)?’” Albuquerque said. “I was sliding all over, braking was really hard, and it was 14 laps to go? And that’s why they hire us, to do the job whatever the condition is.”
After the driver change, Taylor fell behind Olivier Pla, whose Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian team used a strategy move to get Pla’s No. 60 Acura ARX-05 into the lead. However, Pla had to slow dramatically to save fuel to reach the finish of the two-hour 40-minute race, and Taylor passed him easily with 25 minutes left.
Taylor praised Albuquerque and the team for their ability to deal with the unexpected duct issue, running Acura’s win streak at WeatherTech Raceway to three straight years.
“These things happen,” Taylor said. “Everybody is going to have bad luck throughout the year, but it came at a point in the year when we had that kind of downward momentum. And it was the time of year where the (No.) 31 is coming.
“Everybody said before the weekend the ‘Jaws’ music was playing, so I think the team responded really well to the ‘Jaws’ music. They didn’t really let it get to us. The team did their job.”
Renger van der Zande passed Nasr with two minutes left to secure second place for himself and co-driver Kevin Magnussen in the No. 01 V-Performance Academy/Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac. Pla finished fourth in the No. 60 with co-driver Dane Cameron.
The moral of Sunday’s story? When adversity arrives, keep moving forward. You might just outrun it.
“There is always adversity throughout the race,” Taylor said. “It’s how you deal with it in sports car racing that makes the difference.”
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Nabs 25th WeatherTech Raceway Win
While Taylor and Albuquerque celebrated the victory and increased points lead in DPi, Ben Keating and Mikkel Jensen did the same in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class.
Keating started first in class but dropped behind at the start. He recovered, then Jensen brought the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 home a lap ahead of runner-up Gabriel Aubry in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA he co-drove with John Farano. It gave PR1 Mathiasen five wins at the 2.238-mile road course and 25 in top-level IMSA competition.
The start wasn’t much to see, Keating said, but the finish was.
“I had a miserable start,” Keating said. “I think I went into Turn 2 in third place. I knew we had a setup on our car that was really aimed towards the end of the stint. It was going to be a bit difficult to drive the first few laps, so I didn’t have anything for those guys.”
A caution period gave Keating the opportunity to regain the lead, and Jensen finished the victory to increase their lead in the LMP2 standings over Tristan Nunez and Steven Thomas, who combined to finish third in class Sunday in the No. 11 WIN Autosport ORECA.
“It’s important to win and extend the lead, and it’s important that our best competitors finished third,” Jensen said of the points margin, now 113 with just the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in November remaining for the LMP2 class. “We go into the last round in a good position. I’m not really into the points and where we have to finish, but I am sure we are standing pretty good.”
The WeatherTech Championship season resumes for the DPi, GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes Sept. 24-25 with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.