J. Taylor, van der Zande building on past Detroit success

J. Taylor, van der Zande building on past Detroit success

IMSA

J. Taylor, van der Zande building on past Detroit success

Between the two of them, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande have seven victories in Detroit’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.

Only one other driver in this Saturday’s 100-minute race on the 2.35-mile street circuit on Belle Isle has more than one IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in Detroit, and that’s Jordan’s brother, Ricky Taylor. All of those wins came as Jordan Taylor’s co-driver at Wayne Taylor Racing. This year, Ricky shares the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) car with Brazilian Helio Castroneves.

But Ricky’s not the only driver that has stood next to Jordan on the top step of the podium at Detroit. “I’ve been there with Paul Edwards, Max (Angelelli) and Ricky the past few years,” says Jordan Taylor.

This year, he’s looking to do the same with van der Zande, who owns a pair of Prototype Challenge class trophies of his own from Detroit. If they do it, it’ll be the first victory for the new No. 10 driving duo.

“Renger, I think, comes in with a much different perspective and driving style than anyone I’ve driven with,” Taylor says. “I think he’ll have a new perspective of the place on how it can be driven, and hopefully we can just raise our game as a team that little bit extra.”

Van der Zande definitely has a good idea on how to raise the game. He plans to dip into the same bag of tricks that brought him PC wins in 2015 and 2016.

“Basically, what’s happening is that the first three practices, there’s not so much grip on the track,” says van der Zande. “There’s two things to deal with. One is adapting to more grip as a driver, but at the same time making the right choices for the setup together with your team to keep up with the extra grip.

“Toward the end of the race, the track is gripping up more and more, so I think that’s something that’s really difficult for Detroit. If you can adapt to it, you can pick up so much more speed.”

Taylor, meanwhile, has complete confidence in his Wayne Taylor Racing teammates in the paddock and on pit road. They always seem to rise to the occasion, especially on street circuits. The No. 10 team has won four out of the last five races at Detroit, and also won three consecutive races from 2015 through 2017 at the other WeatherTech Championship street-circuit event, the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.

“We feel like we’ve got a good handle on the place from a car setup point of view to get the performance out of it, and execution-wise,” Taylor said. “I think adding Renger to the line-up is a big help and going to help us more.

“Our program at Wayne Taylor Racing has always been strong on street courses in general with a couple wins at Long Beach and a bunch at Detroit. These races suit our team’s style, so I think it’s the perfect place for us to get back on track with getting some wins on the board.”

Jordan Taylor and the No. 10 team haven’t won a WeatherTech Championship race since last year at Detroit, which was the team’s fifth consecutive victory, so this week’s visit to the Motor City could be just what the doctor ordered. It’s also worth noting that General Motors has at least a class win in every IMSA race on Belle Isle since the first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race there in 2007.

“It’s in the backyard of the GM world headquarters, so for them, it’s one of the most important events of the year,” Taylor said. “Obviously, there’s a bunch of manufacturer rivalry in the series, but also in that city. It’s a great place for them to showcase their brand and their position in motorsports. We have a great record there, but I think this will be our toughest year to date.”

Having driven GM products to victory at Belle Isle in five of the last six years, Jordan obviously knows how it feels to win in the shadow of GM’s headquarters in the Renaissance Center. It’s a feeling van der Zande desperately wants to experience as well.

“For sure it’s a big one,” he says. “Coming from Amsterdam all the time for the last couple of years and loving the American racing as much as I do – I really like the series, I like the atmosphere – for me it was always a big target to be with a factory team, with a brand from the U.S.

“That happened, and now coming for the first time to their hometown, home race, is a big one. The only thing I can do is try and deliver and give them a home win.”

We’ll find out if van der Zande and Taylor are successful in delivering yet another Chevrolet Sports Car Classic win on Saturday, June 2. The 100-minute will be televised live on FS2 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.

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