Richard Dole/Motorsport Images
Wayne Taylor Racing scored its second consecutive victory at Mid-Ohio last weekend, and its second consecutive win of the season. It was Ricky Taylor’s fourth victory at Mid-Ohio in five years, and five in a row for Acura as Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque drove to a 2s win in the No. 10 WTR Acura ARX-05.
Those numbers, minus the relatively small margin of victory, paint a picture of dominance. However, Sunday’s win was anything but dominant. Not only did the No. 10 lose out on pole to Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, the Acura they started with was far from ideal. Nevertheless, Albuquerque pushed it into the lead at the start and held the advantage for nine laps until Bourdais came charging through. By that time, according to Albuquerque, the car was a handful.
“The start was brilliant, but then was the car was very tricky to drive,” he said. “We tried to address that by playing with with whatever we can with the tire pressures and so on. And we were lucky that the car came back to us. Ricky did an amazing, amazing job as well.”
Albuquerque said he was feeding information to the engineers to improve the car. Taylor got in and the car was better, but a long way from perfect.
“I can’t say enough about my teammate,” Taylor said. “At the beginning, the tire pressures just went crazy and I don’t know how he drove the car, because I got an improvement and I was still struggling. But at a track where we needed to get everything right, the team executed perfectly. They just nailed it. Great teams just find a way to win. We might not have been the fastest in qualifying, but this just goes to show how strong our team is, that we find a way to win, no matter what.”
In their moves to the front, both Albuquerque and Taylor were aided by the fact that the Acuras, and perhaps WTR’s setup in particular, engage the tires very quickly, providing maximum grip sooner than the Cadillacs. Taylor’s assertive move into the lead that he wouldn’t give up came on the race’s only restart. He dove inside at Turn 2, the Keyhole, but Renger van der Zande, having taken over the 01 from Bourdais, closed the door. Taylor then went around the outside in Turn 4, which put him on the inside for Turn 5. Van der Zande, with right-side tires on the exit curb, got loose, the nose of the Cadillac turned into Taylor’s Acura, and then van der Zande spun off track.
“Early on in the race, it didn’t look like we had a shot to win,” Taylor said. “So it means even more when you find a way and you take the opportunities when you get them. That’s hopefully the kind of move that wins us a championship.”
Taylor admitted that doing well in the next race on Detroit’s Belle Isle, would be a welcome gift. But for now, he and Albuquerque are leading the DPi championship by a slim 32 points over Meyer Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian’s Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist. Their eyes are on the championship they so narrowly missed in 2021, and they’re happy with the way the team is working at the moment.
“I think all of us we are enjoying so much the work methods of all of us together,” said Albuquerque. “We are just improving ourselves, sticking to our routines. And when it’s like this, I think the results come to the surface and that is a good example of great teamwork.”