You have to go back to 2011 to find a team and driver pairing at the Prototype level of U.S. sports car racing that had as hot a start to the season as Jordan and Ricky Taylor have in their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
That year, sports car racing legend Scott Pruett and co-driver Memo Rojas opened the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series season with three consecutive victories in their BMW-powered Daytona Prototype, eventually going on to win the season championship. This year, the Taylor brothers opened the year with back-to-back victories in two of the most prestigious races on the schedule – January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March – and followed it up with a third-straight win in last month’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix.
They’ve earned a total of 105 points from those three races and have a 16-point lead over their next closest competitors, two-time WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Despite the strong start, Ricky Taylor is quick to point out that the pressure is still on heading into Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown on the 3.4-mile Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
“It’s a 16-point lead right now, but we still want to keep winning races,” said the 27-year-old elder Taylor brother. “We always keep saying, ‘OK, we need one more win and then we’ll be comfortable.’ We said that before Long Beach, and now, we’re saying that again.
“I feel like it’s always going to be like that, because anything can really happen,” he continued. Car counts are a bit higher than they’ve been last year, and there’s just more good cars, so it’s easier to lose points than it has been in years past. If this was 2-3 years ago, I’d say we’d be in cruise mode, but I think we still have to keep the pressure on and I think we still need a couple more really good results and still can’t afford to have a bad one. It’s a position we haven’t been in before, but it’s definitely a little pressure to maintain.”
Saturday’s race will be televised on FS1 in the U.S. on a same-day delay beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Live IMSA Radio commentary and in-car cameras will be available on IMSA.com at 2:25 p.m. ET.
Pressure or not, the No. 10 team is definitely on a roll. That’s a lot of momentum, and if that wasn’t enough, they also won in their last visit to COTA last fall.
“We won last year and finished second the year before, so it’s a track our team has always had some success at, and our cars have always run well there,” said 25-year-old Jordan Taylor. “It’ll be a little bit different this year with the Cadillac. We don’t have any experience on that track yet with this car, so there will be a lot to learn.”
However, as Jordan also points out, “I think of all the teams heading there, we can head there with the most confidence.”
They have confidence, but they also know it won’t be easy. None of their wins this year have been “easy.”
“Each race that we’ve won has been a battle,” Jordan said. “Each race, we’ve gone into the last hour in second place and we’ve had to battle for it.”
But those battles also have made the wins that much more gratifying.
“If we were killing everybody, it would be a lot less satisfying,” said Ricky. “We really have to work for it. There’s a lot of really strong teams and manufacturers involved in the series now. To be winning races at this level makes it really rewarding.”
And just for the record, in the fourth race of that 2011 GRAND-AM season, Pruett and Rojas ended up second. Sounds like the Taylor brothers wouldn’t be surprised by a similar outcome this weekend.