Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor welcome new primary sponsor Konica Minolta with solid runner-up finish in Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach
Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor ushered in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Chevrolet Corvette Dallara Daytona Prototype era for Wayne Taylor Racing by co-driving to a solid runner-up finish in Saturday’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase on the scenic Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) seaside street course.
Round three of the 2014 Tudor Championship was a 100-minute sprint race that was a mere blink of an eye in the aftermath of the two longest races of the year – the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring – and was caution-free from start to finish on the iconic 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit that’s celebrating its 40th anniversary with Sunday’s Verizon IndyCar Series race.
Jordan Taylor, the 22-year-old who co-drove with Max “The Ax” Angelelli to last year’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series driver championship in the No. 10 Corvette DP, crossed the finish line .759 of a second behind Scott Pruett in the race-winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford Riley while Joao Barbosa and the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP was close behind in third. Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas started from the pole and managed a comfortable lead from start to finish, leading all but one of the 77 laps contested today. Barbosa exited pit road ahead of Pruett during mid-race fuel-and-tire stops but could not keep the No. 01 Ford behind him for more than a lap. Taylor followed Pruett past Barbosa, and Pruett, Taylor and Barbosa maintained their positions over the final 35 laps.
“It was definitely a good first race with Konica Minolta on the car,” Jordan Taylor said of new primary sponsor Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc., which was introduced during a festive press conference Friday at the Team Chevy stage. “It’s always great to start your relationship that way. We finished second at Daytona last year in our first race with Velocity Worldwide, and we repeated it here today in our first race with Konica Minolta, so that’s cool. It’s also nice to have our first race with just Ricky and I in the car together and be on the podium. It was a great race. We came from Sebring, where five-and-a-half hours were under yellow from crashes, and then we come to Long Beach with these two classes and it was a great race. There was bumping and banging but there was no one in the wall. There was some unnecessary aggression, I’d say, at the beginning with a few guys, but other than that it was a good race. When Scott (Pruett) got by Joao (Barbosa for the lead on lap 44), it was a clean move and I followed him in and Joao didn’t turn in on me. And then we had another battle (with Barbosa) and we never even touched. I think it was a good showcase for the professional level of these classes and the series, and it’s nice to move forward like that and look forward to the rest of the year.”
Ricky Taylor, the 24-year-old who qualified fifth, made short work of climbing into the top-three on the very first lap of the race and essentially held his position despite reporting on the radio on three separate occasions that Gustavo Yacaman had made significant contact from behind in the tight, turn 11 hairpin leading onto the front straight. The team feared the repeated contact affected the balance of the car, and a post-race inspection revealed broken bodywork, most notably the right-rear diffuser. Still, Taylor took matters in stride and was able to hold his ground until pitting for tires and fuel on lap 38 and handing the car over to his younger brother.
“With the combination of the two pro classes here this weekend, it was really a lot of fun to drive, pushing so hard for a full 100 minutes, and everybody respecting each other out there – all the drivers were very predictable,” Taylor said. “More than just the clean race, how good was it that we race for 100 minutes and the top-three you could have put a blanket over. It was just really exciting the whole way through. I think it was a great day and a great showcase at Long Beach for the first time back here for the DPs since ’06.”
The runner-up finish, combined with the third-place finish by the points-leading No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP shared by Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, tightened the points race three rounds into the season. The No. 01 Ganassi Ford leapfrogged past the No. 10 Corvette into second place, but the top three are separated by just seven points – 98 for the Action Express Corvette DP, 93 for the Ganassi Ford, and 91 for the No. 10 Corvette.
“It was a great weekend launching our new partner Konica Minolta, and then to get a podium finish,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “We knew coming in it was going to be hard against the Fords. Both Ricky and Jordan and the team did outstanding, as usual. We fought like mad. The first half of the race, we had some silly driver that kept hitting the back of our car and broke the bodywork and the diffuser and everything was broken. But the guys fought through. We got a second, which is great, so I’m happy.”
The Tudor United SportsCar Championship resumes Sunday, May 4, with round four – the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix – at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.