Acura Team Penske had the pace to win the 66th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, but the other two ingredients – mechanical reliability and luck – were missing.
Credited with 40th and 41st in a field of 43 cars, the pair of Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype internationals succumbed to engine failure with Ricky Taylor behind the front-running No. 7 entry, and side-to-side contact with Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel of the No. 6 severed the connection between the engine and transmission.
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“We were just settling in and everything was going to plan,” Taylor said. “The whole Acura Team Penske crew had done an amazing job leading up to the race. We were settled into the top three for the entire day. Unfortunately, this [mechanical problem] knocked us out. We had such a solid plan moving forward. We were really looking forward to battling at the end.”
When added to the reliability issues on the team’s debut at Daytona, the problems at Sebring have given the brand-new Acura DPi program a significant hole to dig out of in the season-long championship. With a shift to shorter events in the months ahead, Taylor is confident the pace of the ARX-05s will allow Team Penske to begin mounting a comeback when the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns next month in California.
“It’s one thing if we were never competitive and fell out,” he added. “To have this kind of speed and put on this kind of show so far excites us to move onto Long Beach and hopefully get a win there.”