At the halfway point of the final Daytona Prototype international (DPi) season, Acura has begun to flex some muscle with back-to-back 1-2 finishes. Don’t let that fool you. Recent history and drivers involved remind us there’s a long way to go.
The Acura ARX-05 DPis fielded by Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian are coming off a pair of road courses — WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — that favor their design. The No. 10 WTR Acura won both races to take the class lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The No. 60 MSR Acura finished second both times and sits second in the DPi standings.
“I feel like in the past few years the parity of the cars has really suited certain places more than others,” said Ricky Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 with Filipe Albuquerque. “For the Acura, it’s Laguna, Mid-Ohio, Road America — those sorts of places where we really need to do our job and get the most points possible.”
“Once we go to Detroit, we expect it to swing back the other way.”
Therein lies the great equalizer. Bumpy tracks like the Raceway at Belle Isle street circuit favor the design of the Cadillacs. Detroit is up next on the calendar with the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on June 4.
“It’s actually simple,” Taylor explained. “The smoother the track and the higher the speed in the corners, the better it is (for the Acura). It comes down to just how low you can run the car. (With) the Cadillac, you can run it wherever you want (in ride height). The Acura, if it’s not just skimming the ground, it’s losing grip. When we go to a bumpy place like Detroit or Long Beach, which also have slow-speed corners, that’s where we suffer.”
History also shows that, even halfway through the schedule, teams seemingly downtrodden shouldn’t admit defeat. Last year, for instance, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R was 157 points out of the championship lead after five races. Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani rallied to win the title by 11 points.
In 2020, Taylor and then-teammate Helio Castroneves were in sixth place at the halfway mark, the equivalent of 100 points out of first. They bounced back to win by the equivalent of 10 points under the current scoring system. A glance at the 2022 standings at the midpoint shows all six full-time entries still in the hunt with only 132 points separating the top five cars. The outlier could be the No. 01 Cadillac Racing entry, whose incredible pace has been outshone only by its incredibly bad fortune, leaving it 208 points back.
Also worth noting is that Cadillac finished better than Acura last year at three remaining tracks (Detroit, Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta) on the schedule, with the jury out on the remaining two circuits. Acura outdid Cadillac at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen in 2021, but Cadillac returned the favor a week later in the sprint race at Watkins Glen International. The WeatherTech Championship returns to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July for the first time since 2019, when Acura got the better finish of the two manufacturers. But a year earlier, Cadillac won the race.
Which leaves Oliver Jarvis of the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura to echo the sentiment of all DPi drivers.
“It’s important that we capitalize on the tracks that do suit our car, we make the most of it and come away with maximum points,” he said. “We’re getting to halfway of the season and points you score here could be crucial for the championship at the end.”
The Chevrolet Sports Car Classic airs live from Detroit at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, June 4 on USA Network, Peacock and IMSA Radio.