With the momentum from this season’s pair of uplifting victories already in-hand, Angelelli and Taylor look to turn the tables once and for all this weekend on a track they love so much.
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Coming off a truly landmark victory in the history of Wayne Taylor Racing – their second in five races this season – the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP duo of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor head to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington for Saturday’s Diamond Cellar Classic with the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype-class points lead in-hand.
The 22-year-old Jordan Taylor blazed to his first career DP-class pole position, led the opening 17 laps, and the veteran Italian Angelelli closed the deal with a flawless drive that netted his 23rd career Rolex Series win and the younger Taylor’s second in the DP class.
Most importantly, by virtue of the opening-lap retirement of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, Angelelli and Taylor vaulted from third to first in the Rolex Series standings. It’s the first time in four years the No. 10 team has led the championship, the last being after its runner-up finish in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in June 2009.
But with seven races remaining on the 2013 Rolex Series calendar, no one in the Velocity Worldwide camp is getting carried away by the current points situation, by any means. Especially heading to a racetrack where the team has experienced some of its most frustrating moments since joining the series in 2004.
The 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio layout is one of only two racetracks visited more than once by the Rolex Series on its current schedule – Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., being the other – where the No. 10 team has yet to score a victory.
Even its lone podium finish in nine previous visits, during Angelelli and Wayne Taylor’s march to the 2005 Rolex Series championship, didn’t come without major incident.
A devastating fire all but destroyed the No. 10 racecar during qualifying, sending it to the rear of the starting grid and forcing the crew to work all through the night to rebuild it just in time to position it on the track by race time.
With the momentum from this season’s pair of uplifting victories already in-hand, Angelelli and Taylor look to turn the tables once and for all this weekend on a track they love so much, but one that hasn’t treated their team so well.
Practice for Saturday’s two-hour, 45-minute Diamond Cellar Classic begins Friday morning with qualifying set for 4:45 p.m. EDT. Race time Saturday is 4:30 p.m. with live television on SPEED.
Max Angelelli, co-driver of the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
You’re headed to Mid-Ohio with the points lead after your huge win at Detroit two weekends ago. What’s on your mind as you next take to a racetrack that has not been particularly kind to you over the years? “Things changed a lot and it’s pretty scary if you think about where we were before the race in Detroit and where our competitors were.
We had such a disadvantage in the points and they had such an advantage and the whole thing turned upside-down. That same thing can happen the other way at any of our races starting at Mid-Ohio. Looking at our history there, we have not had great races there.
I ran into unfortunate situations there several times in the past, so I think it’s about time to become – I won’t say ‘conservative’ –more focused on the championship because what happened in Detroit is something that happens once in a lifetime and we have to be able to take full advantage of it.
You can’t plan on anything like that ever happening. We need to do everything possible to complete the race and have some good fortune along the way. This is more about me and the way I need to be this weekend.
I don’t want to be dragged or sucked into a battle for this single race when the situation does not call for it. I just want to be focused, look at the championship, and try to put my competitiveness a little bit on the side.”
What is it about racing at Mid-Ohio that facilitates the kind of mishaps that have occurred to you there? “Mid-Ohio is a racetrack where I really have to manage myself, and that is not only me. All the drivers get so frustrated because, most of the time at Mid-Ohio, I’ve had a good car but I did not have the track position.
Other times, I had a bad car but I had track position. Most of the time, when I wanted to go by people, I couldn’t. Other times I was in the lead but the car was not there, so I had to defend myself. I ended up in situations that were not good, a non-finish way. We cannot have a DNF.
I do not want to score a DNF. Certainly not. I prefer to score a top-five. I’ll take risks on other racetracks where, if you take a risk and it doesn’t work out, you can always recover. Any small mistake at Mid-Ohio can lead to a massive disaster.”
How was the Corvette Dallara DP package in its first run at Mid-Ohio last year? “Last year, the car was OK. The 01 had the massive engine advantage and the Fords had that massive engine advantage. On this type of racetrack, you just can’t fight with the kind of disadvantage we had last year. After free practice Friday, I’ll have a better feel for how that situation is this year. If the field is more balanced, then I’m sure I’ll have the car that I need.”
Talk about that win in Detroit two weekends ago and what made it so very special to you and the Velocity Worldwide team... “Detroit was unbelievable. Detroit was a different event. It was a championship race in the way it was part of the championship, but at the same time it was a single race result because of the location of the race, GM being there, all the executives there, the risk of not having a Corvette at the top was too big, so we had to deliver.
I’m happy we’re the ones who took Corvette to the top in Detroit, and I’m happy for all the GM folks enjoying themselves watching that race and enjoying the result. Detroit is probably right after Daytona in importance. As for the success I’ve had this year with Jordan, I can honestly say I never doubted him.
I’m not surprised because I knew going into the race, into the championship, what he was capable of. It just confirmed what I thought about him, my trust. As I told him at the very beginning, ‘We’ll have a great year, let’s hope we can continue this way all the way through the season and maybe we can have some fun at the end of the year.’”
Jordan Taylor, co-driver of the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
What are your thoughts about heading to Mid-Ohio this weekend with the points lead? “Mid-Ohio is a decent track for me. I finished third in GT there in 2010 and won the pole. That’s my only real result. This year, coming off the win in Detroit with the points lead, we still need to go in like we have all the other races, trying to get the win and trying to get as many points as we can for the championship.
That’s been working, so far, so there’s no need to change it. It’s still very early in the season, and we saw in Detroit how quickly things can change. We just need to keep focusing on what we’re doing. The whole team’s been executing on pit stops and car prep. As long as we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll come out in good shape.”
You talk about racing for the win and conducting business as usual this weekend. But your co-driver Max says that, this particular weekend, it might be better to keep the big picture in mind at all times. How are those two approaches reconciled?
“We do need to be playing it safe this weekend. We’ve been trying to play it safe every race. In Detroit, we didn’t think we had the best car to win the race, so we knew we had to make the most of the opportunity we had starting up front. If we go to Mid-Ohio and see we don’t have the fastest car, we need to basically take it easy and make the most of what we can.
If we have to settle for a top-five, that’s what we’ll have to do. If you go for a win when you can’t win, that’s when you end up with a DNF. Already, we had hugely disappointing results at COTA and Atlanta. We need to keep getting podiums or top-fives, at worst, for the good of our championship hopes.”
You’re in the midst of a busy month of June, having won at Detroit, then testing for the Corvette factory GT-Pro-class team at Le Mans this past weekend. What can you tell us about your Le Mans effort while also racing three Rolex Series events this month? “Last year, it was all a bit of a shock. It was a very similar month of June for me. Last year, it took a lot out of me and, not knowing what to expect and maybe having my head in the wrong place, I got caught up too much with the logistics and not so much with the racing.
This year, I understand what these weeks bring. I know when to focus on the media side and the team debriefs, and I know how to focus and do what I need to do when I’m in the car. That experience last year will help big-time this month. There’s a lot going on outside the car, but you have to know how to focus when you have to.
As for my team at Le Mans, I’m proud to be driving for Corvette. They’ve won Le Mans seven times. Going for number eight this year, and they’ve only been going at it for 13 years. That’s a good record. I have great teammates in Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. They have huge experience and I’ll be learning a lot this year.
I have one under my belt and know what to expect. The GT Pro class very competitive. There are 11 cars and all have a shot at winning this year’s race. But, like I say on the GRAND-AM side, I have the best team at Le Mans and that should go a long way toward bringing us the success that we’re looking for.”
Wayne Taylor, team owner of the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette Dallara DP for Wayne Taylor Racing:
Your thoughts about racing at Mid-Ohio after your huge win in Detroit that also put your team in the points lead? “Obviously, it was a great result and, to win for Chevy in Detroit, was pretty big. The points lead, although it’s not a lot, it’s the first time in many years we’ve actually had the lead. We’re not going into a race trying to pull back points, for a change.
We’ve not had the greatest luck at Mid-Ohio. So we go there putting a lot of effort into the car setup. Between this weekend and the six-hour race at Watkins Glen in two weeks, these two events are going to be key to the championship this season.
All we can do is focus on the race and do the best job we can, like we always do. It’s so competitive, right now. I’m really excited for the team and for everybody involved with this program.”
You must be feeling pretty proud to have both of your sons racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next week. What are your thoughts about that? “There are a lot of mixed feelings. I’m very excited for Jordan and Ricky. At the same time, I know how difficult Le Mans is. It’s good for Jordan that he has one already under his belt. He can enjoy this one more. It’s a good opportunity for Ricky with a very good Corvette team. Both are under the Chevrolet brand.
I’m very happy and excited for them, and I’m really looking forward to it. It was such a big part of my life – my whole family’s life – over the years. Now, having both of them driving there, I can’t thank Chevrolet enough for what they’re doing for both Jordan and Ricky. As their dad, I can only give them advice from my experience there over the years.
They then have to take that advice and also deal with the pressure situation they’re in when they’re running for a big manufacturer. There’s a lot of pressure on all these drivers. If I had the chance to go to Le Mans as a 22-year-old, wow, the thought of it.
The two of them are 22 and 23. One thing you can’t buy is experience. Experience is so important at Le Mans. That’s why I’m so excited they have these seats. Down the road, this experience they’re getting now is going to be invaluable.”
Wayne Taylor Racing