Another Near-Victory for Ricky, Jordan Taylor

Starting from Pole, They Lead Race-High 60 of 112 Race Laps at Laguna Seca
Before Scoring Their Third Consecutive Top-Two Finish This Season and at the Track

Date: May 3, 2015
Event: Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix (Round 4 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California (2.238-mile, 11-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 1st / 2nd (Running, completed 112 of 112 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd (118 points, 11 out of first)
Winner: Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante of Spirit of Daytona Racing (Corvette DP)

Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, drivers of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR), came oh-so-close to scoring their second consecutive TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory at Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California. But the way the cards played out, despite leading a race-high 60 of 112 race laps, they had to settle for a somewhat disappointing but very solid runner-up finish a mere 1.351 seconds behind the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante.

It was the third consecutive top-two finish in the opening four races this season for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP team, which was runner-up at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in mid-March and, two weeks ago, scored a thoroughly dominating victory in the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase on the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street course. It was also the third consecutive top-two finish at Laguna Seca for the team, which scored an equally dominating GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series victory at the 2.238-mile, 11-turn racing jewel of the Central California coast in 2013 and followed it up with a runner-up finish in last year’s inaugural TUDOR Championship event there.

Today’s two-hour, 40-minute race came down to the timing of final pit stops and traffic over the 37 minutes. Ricky Taylor, who had just recorded the team’s 60th lap led on the day, gave up the top spot he held comfortably for the previous 19 circuits for a final fuel-only stop to get him to the finish. Six laps later, with 32 minutes remaining, it was Westbrook in the lead, and he was able to make his final fuel-only stop in the No. 90 Corvette DP and exit pit road just ahead of Taylor. Try as he might, and as four classes of race traffic would allow, Taylor just could not get around Westbrook the rest of the way.

“We had a really good car,” said Taylor, who was Westbrook’s co-driver during his one year stint with the Spirit of Daytona team in 2013. “Jordan did a great job in the opening stint to pull an eight- to 10-second gap to the 90 car. Then I got in and was able to hold a five- to six-second gap until the pit stops came around again. You can’t predict what traffic is going to do in those times. They pitted a couple of laps after us and came out of the pits as we were coming by. Three-tenths of a second and we could have gotten ahead and probably would have won the race. Our car was really good after that. I felt like I could put some pressure on Richard, but it was a little too late and the opportunity was lost. We knew they were going to be strong at the end of the race. But I think we were as strong, if not stronger. It’s a bit of a shame to have the best car and not win, but the points are good.”

As it turned out, the No. 90 Corvette DP led the opening 15 laps and the final 29 en route to its first win of the year from the third spot on the starting grid. Westbrook’s teammate Michael Valiante was able to slip past on the inside of Jordan Taylor, who qualified on the pole, and No. 2 starter Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry, in the opening two turns of the race. Taylor was able to regain the top spot on lap 16 and stayed there until the opening round of pit stops under caution on lap 23.

“It was a good race,” Taylor said. “We knew it was going to come down between the us, the 90 and 60 (of Michael Shank Racing). We thought the 01 would be there, but they had trouble. We ran well. The race was dictated by traffic. Once we hit traffic, we could gain a gap or lose a big gap. That’s what really changed the race today. We were leading by 10 seconds, and then we’d lose the lead. When Ricky got in, we held the lead and then pitted. Richard (Westbrook) had clean laps while Ricky had traffic, and that’s where Richard made up his time. It was more a strategy and traffic race than anything, but we can leave here with good points and be happy with second place.”

With the second-place finish, the Taylor brothers jumped from fourth to third in the Prototype-class standings but still 11 points out of the lead, now occupied by Westbrook, Valiante and the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona team. The No. 5 Action Express Racing duo of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa finished fourth and dropped to second in the standings, four points behind the No. 90 team.

“Well, it’s tough to sound disappointed with being second, but the team did awesome, the drivers did awesome,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We moved up to third in points, which is a good thing. Traffic played such a big role today. Richard (Westbrook) obviously did a good job. Ricky got very close at the end, which was pretty amazing. I guess it’s good to be upset by finishing second. We knew the 90 was going to be the competition, there was no doubt about it. I think the strategy we had was the right strategy. We just got a little unlucky for two or three laps where we got just bad traffic. We went from a seven-second lead to a two-second lead and that’s what hurt us the most. We can look at the data and see what happened, but that was what hurt us the most. Next up is Detroit. We love going there. We’ve had so much success there. It’s GM’s home. Jordan has won all three years there. Last year, it was Ricky and Jordan’s first win together. So, I say let’s roll on to Detroit.”

Round five of the 2015 Tudor Championship will be the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park near downtown Detroit on Saturday, May 30. WTR will be vying for its third consecutive victory on its manufacturing partner’s home track and namesake race. FOX Sports 2 will provide television coverage of the 100-minute race on a two-hour delay beginning at 2 p.m. EDT, while FOX Sports 1 will rebroadcast the race Sunday, May 31, at 5 p.m. EDT.