Wayne Taylor Racing is taking a big swing at capturing another IMSA DPi championship with the signing of Ryan Briscoe to replace the outgoing Jordan Taylor, and the acquisition of five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon to pilot the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R at three of the four WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance rounds.
Briscoe will partner with Renger van der Zande, who returns for his third season with the Indiana-based team. Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship driver Kamui Kobayashi is set to complete roster for January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.
WTR’s title-winning 2017 lineup featuring Jordan and Ricky Taylor has undergone significant changes as the elder brother departed for Acura Team Penske’s DPi program for 2018, and with Wednesday’s confirmation of Jordan Taylor’s acquisition by Corvette Racing in the GT Le Mans class, the team’s namesake will need to adjust to a new era without either of his sons leading from the cockpit.
“Obviously, these are some of the biggest changes we’ve made in the way of our driver lineup,” Taylor said. “Ricky left two years ago and Jordan’s been with us since forever, it seems like. With him leaving, we’re in some ways starting with a clean sheet of paper. Renger has been with us for two years and he has done a good job. Ryan (Briscoe, whom Taylor and WTR co-owner Max Angelelli manage) and I have always worked together, so there is a lot of familiarity there. For the longer races, we’re excited to have Kamui back to help defend our Daytona championship, and Scott Dixon certainly brings us a fresh, new look to the team with a history of winning races and championships.
“So, despite all the changes, everything will kind of still be the same, and everyone is highly motivated. The team is looking forward to some change. You’ve got to have change in life and I think this is a good time. I’m proud of Jordan for getting selected to drive the factory Corvette. It would have been difficult to turn that down. I wish him well, and the team does, too.”
WTR’s endorsement of van der Zande will serve as the bridge for the incoming Briscoe and Dixon as they lean on the Dutchman to get up to speed for the new season.
“I am obviously very happy to be continuing with the team,” he said. “I think we’ve built up a good relationship over the past two seasons and it’ll be the third year in a row I’ll be driving for the same team, which is fantastic in terms of continuity. This team is all about continuity and repetition, doing things better and better every time you do them. That’s why there are so many people with this team who have been there for 10-plus years, some over 15 years. That’s also what makes this team good, makes it great. Obviously we’re working on having great success in 2020. I’m happy to continue, happy to move forward, and this definitely feels like my American home.”
In Briscoe, who’s driven for WTR at three editions of the Rolex 24 At Daytona between 2006-2012, the team should expect to undergo a seamless transition.
“I’m really excited to be joining WTR,” Briscoe said. “I’ve always had so much respect for the organization. They’ve been so successful and are one of the most committed teams in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship. It’s an honor to join them as one of their full-time drivers. The Cadillac DPi is a fantastic machine and I can’t wait to drive it.”
Securing the full-time services of Briscoe, and Dixon in a part-time role, was made possible after both drivers hit the market following Ford’s exit from the WeatherTech Championship. Hailing back to their time in the 2000s as Target Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar teammates, the duo bring instant chemistry to the Taylor squad.
“I’ve been with Chip Ganassi Racing’s sportscar program since its inception back in 2004, and we’ve enjoyed a good amount of success together over the years,” said the New Zealander, who represents Honda for CGR in IndyCar.
“With the Ford GT program coming to a conclusion in 2019, the opportunity with Wayne Taylor Racing became available, and it’s something I’m really excited about. I’ve always loved racing Prototypes and to get back to the top class is something I’m looking forward to, for sure. Wayne and his team run a very strong program, and have been proven contenders for years now. Ryan and I obviously have a long history together, so I think that will be important, as well, to get a fast start. I’m looking forward to teaming up with Renger and Kamui and hope to contribute to the overall success of the No. 10 car.”
The final piece of WTR’s puzzle, Kobayashi, was a star during the team’s run to victory in January at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. He’ll be tasked with helping the team to score back-to-back victories, along with adding to its 2017 championship.
“First of all, I want thank Wayne Taylor Racing and Konica Minolta for giving me a chance to race at Rolex 24 hours for two years in a row,” Kobayashi said.
“I had a great experience in winning with WTR and the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi last year at Daytona, so I am really looking forward to going back there to try to win the race again. I know it is not easy to repeat the success the team had there last year, but with my 2019 teammate Renger and with very strong new teammates, I think we should be able to challenge for win. Ryan and Scott are not only talented, but they also have had great success in other U.S. racing series, so I am really looking forward to working with them.”