Surf’s Up for the Taylor Brothers at Long Beach

Ricky, Jordan Taylor Celebrate One-Year Anniversary with Sponsor Konica-Minolta
With Dominating Victory from the Pole at Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase

Date: April 18, 2015
Event: Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase (Round 3 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship
Location: Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) Street Circuit (1.968-mile, 11-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 1st / 1st (Running, completed 78 of 78 laps)
Point Standing: 4th (85 points, 11 out of first)
Winner: Ricky Taylor and Jordan Taylor of Wayne Taylor Racing (Corvette DP)

Their wish was to go one better than they did here a year ago, and brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and the No. 10 Konica-Minolta Corvette DP team for Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) did just that with a dominating TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory from the pole during Saturday’s Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase on the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) seaside street circuit.

The co-driving Taylor brothers and the team owned by their father Wayne Taylor proudly introduced new primary sponsor Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. at this event in 2014, and they came within .759 of a second of putting an exclamation point on the announcement in ultimate fashion with a race win.

That runner-up finish was among the prime motivating factors in their return to the streets of Long Beach, and the script played out to perfection this time as Ricky Taylor blazed to his 11th career Prototype-class pole position in record time Friday, then led the opening 37 laps of today’s one-hour, 40-minute sprint race before handing things over to his younger brother. Jordan Taylor then made a stellar pass of the defending race-winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry shared by Scott Pruett and Joey Hand five laps later, and held off the relentless Hand all the way to the checkered flag, crossing the finish line 3.3 seconds ahead of WTR’s longtime rival entry.

It was WTR’s first victory in three races this season, and the10th major North American sports car racing victory for both Ricky and Jordan Taylor, as well as the 20th for WTR since the team was formed at the outset of the 2007 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season.

“Obviously being on pole is nice,” said Ricky Taylor, who scored seven of his 10 career victories co-driving with veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli from 2010 through 2012. “You get to control the start a little bit. Scott (Pruett) did a really good job at the start and I had to fight for it at turn one. Fortunately, I knew our car was good on the brakes and good on cold tires, as well. I had some confidence going into the first turn. After that, I settled in and did my best to save the car to get it over to Jordan in one piece. At the beginning, it seemed like a reasonable task but, as it went on, the 01 was putting more pressure on and I was having to push harder and harder as the tires wore. It felt like our car was really good. It’s really special to come away with this result. It’s our one-year anniversary in our relationship with Konica Minolta. It’s always sweet after Sebring. Brembo has gone back and solved all our brake issues. Hats off to all the guys on our team for a great stop, and to our partners for doing everything they do.”

The team’s one and only pit stop of the afternoon came precisely at the 50-minute mark of the 100-minute timed event, and the WTR crew performed flawlessly, as usual, sending Jordan Taylor back on track in third place behind the No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran, and the No. 01 Ganassi entry with race starter Pruett at the controls. Both the No. 31 Corvette and No. 01 Ganassi entry pitted two laps after the WTR Corvette, and the Ganassi car, with Hand having replaced Pruett, returned to the track ahead of Jordan Taylor. One lap later, Taylor made a hard braking move to get inside Hand entering the left-hand turn one at the end of the long, Shoreline Drive front straight, and got by cleanly for what turned out to be the deciding move of the race.

“When I got in the car, I knew they had stayed out because I didn’t see them in the pit lane, so I knew they would have at least one lap on hot tires and we’d have a lap on cold tires and they could maybe jump us,” Taylor said. “I pushed hard on the two out laps and actually tagged the wall on one of them. I actually saw on the big screen TV on the front stretch that (Joey Hand) was just leaving the pit exit. I was behind a (GT-class) Porsche, and thankfully he braked early into the first turn. If I hadn’t gotten by him, I wouldn’t have been close enough. I knew having gone around on cold tires how tough it was, but I was shocked at how quick (Hand) was. I got a good run out of the hairpin, and I knew we were strong under braking. I knew we’d probably have one shot at it, so I went for it. It was a pretty late move but fortunately it stuck. It was tough being the leader. I could see how close he was every lap. It was a tenth here and a tenth there. Thankfully, with a couple laps to go we had a little bit of separation with some GT cars which gave me a pretty good gap to the finish.”

The victory, combined with the fifth-place finish today by the championship-leading No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa, enabled the WTR duo to close to within 11 points of the lead with seven races remaining. They also moved up one spot from fifth to fourth in the order.

“I really can’t find the right words to describe the emotion of such a big win like that,” said team owner Wayne Taylor. “Not only did we have all the senior executives from Konica Minolta here, all those great people who have supported us so fervently for the last year, for us to be able to go out and get a win like this for them is just unbelievable. And, I’m absolutely ecstatic for the team. The amount of work they’ve done and what they’ve gone through for the last two races, they deserve this more than anybody else. For the drivers, every time I watch Ricky and Jordan drive, I am more and more amazed and I just don’t know what else I can say about what they were able to go out and do this weekend. Just spectacular.

“Finally, I just want to say that, given the problems we went through at Sebring, the way the Brembo Brakes company reacted for us has been above and beyond the call. We potentially could have been in big trouble here this weekend. But these guys stopped everything, turned everything upside-down, and they made sure that we got this situation figured out. Personally, it’s a big deal to thank them and, obviously, our braking performance here today was something that was a major contributor to this huge race win.”

Next up for the 2015 Tudor Championship competitors is the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California, round four of the 10-race campaign set for Sunday, May 3. The two-hour, 45-minute race will be broadcast live by FOX Sports 1 beginning at 4 p.m. EDT.