Stevens confident he can help WTR find continued success
Will Stevens believes he’s fitted in well with Wayne Taylor Racing and can help the team’s efforts in the classic endurance races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year.
The former Formula 1 driver was announced today as WTR’s new endurance race extra alongside full-timers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque in next year’s championship, as the team embarks on its second season running the Acura ARX-05. In this role he replaces his former part-time Marussia F1 teammate Alexander Rossi, although the IndyCar ace will join the trio for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona next month.
Wayne Taylor Racing has won four of the last five Rolex 24 Hours races and lost out on last year’s IMSA championship by only a point.
Stevens, who has spent much of the past five years racing Ligiers and Orecas in LMP2 – both in the European Le Mans Series and WEC – said: “Obviously this is a team I’ve admired for many years now and I’ve always wanted to be a part of. So to finally get to come over here and race with Wayne in the IMSA championship was an opportunity I needed to take with both hands…
“I came over to do a test at Daytona last week, which was interesting, to feel the differences from the Oreca over in Europe to the Acura – the similarities they have but also the differences.
“The test was good, we managed to get through quite a bit as a team and I felt at home in the car pretty quickly, I was welcomed by the team very quickly and as the other drivers have said, I’ve had relationships with all of them at some point. Alex I’ve known probably the best from our previous experiences together. Filipe I’ve raced against a lot over in Europe for the last four or five years. Ricky and I have always bumped into each other at different race tracks.
“So to be able to be part of that line-up that I know has been super-successful in the past, it’s an honor for me to join them, and I hope I can bring my experience from Europe and fit in really well. From what we saw at the test that happened really quickly, and there’s no reason why we can’t continue the success that the team’s had.”
Asked by Motorsport.com about the biggest differences between his Panis Racing-run Oreca-Gibson and the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, Stevens replied: “I think there’s a lot of similarities but there’s also quite a lot of differences. I think the power is quite a bit different, having a turbo instead of what we have in Europe.
“That was one of the bigger things to get used to and also there’s just a lot more devices you can use inside the car. The TC [traction control] is much more complicated, there’s a lot more adjustability that we can do through a lap and also through a stint, to help tire deg. So there’s definitely some things that I’m used to and can carry over but every car’s different. Obviously over in Europe we’re using Goodyear tires and in IMSA it’s Michelins.
“For the first few laps it felt quite a bit different – you can feel the extra bit of downforce the car has, and the way the power is delivered is different. But the overall car is pretty similar and I felt comfortable within a few laps. The running we did was very productive. On the second day we had a bit of rain which happened just before I got in the car so that made it a little bit tricky, but it’s probably a blessing in disguise to get some running in all types of conditions.
“I feel like I’ve got enough knowledge so far to at least have the ball rolling before we get to the Roar in a few weeks.”
Regarding the Daytona road course, he said: “A lot of people think the track’s quite simple because there’s not that many corners, but it’s one of those tracks where if there’s fewer corners, you have to make sure each one gets done perfectly.
“The Bus Stop being quite a high-speed corner compared with the infield, I think there’s quite a lot of differences you can focus on in setup to try and utilize each one. So I actually really enjoyed the track. It was my first time driving on some kind of banking so that was quite cool, but I enjoyed it and I’m sure the race is going to be good fun.”
Ricky Taylor, two-time IMSA champion, praised his new teammate, saying Stevens had been on his father’s wish list “for a long time.”
He went on, “We’ve been big fans of his, watching him race in LMP2 in Europe over the past few years. You always want to, as a driver, see what makes them special, see how they do their job, how they go about their business. We tested with Will last week and he met every expectation. It was really interesting to see how he went about learning a new car.
“He didn’t get so many laps so he’ll be still figuring all the crazy buttons on the steering wheel at the Roar [Before the 24 test], but I’m very excited to have everyone together and I think this line up is as strong as it’s ever been in the #10 car.”
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