Wayne Taylor Racing’s upcoming departure from Cadillac Racing’s three-team DPi program has left General Motors with some questions to answer ahead of the 2021 IMSA season.
With WTR’s No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R set to transform into an Acura ARX-05 next season, the single-car No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, and JDC-Miller Motorsports’ two-car DPi-V.R effort, are the only known solutions for the brand at the moment.
WTR could opt to sell its chassis in the off-season, and Juncos Racing continues to try and find a buyer for the Cadillac it purchased and campaigned in a part-time effort last year, but it’s unclear if GM will have more than three entries in the DPi category.
“Too soon,” Cadillac Racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser told RACER when asked about its post-WTR plans.
If there’s an unintended benefit to Taylor’s departure from the Cadillac Racing family, it could come in the form of forging closer relations with the JDC-Miller outfit, the newest member of DPi-V.R group, which stepped up from LMP2 in 2019. As the manufacturer prepares to lose WTR, which also serves as its current DPi championship leader, the upstart JDC-Miller team holds an impressive second in the standings, just five points behind WTR, thanks to the consistency delivered by Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 5 entry.
The Frenchman is set for a return to IndyCar next year, which opens a front-running seat in the No. 5, and with the sister No. 85 JDC-Miller Cadillac in need of more consistent funding to maintain a season-long driver duo, there are numerous opportunities to help the team reach higher in 2021.
One point behind JDC-Miller in third, the 2018 DPi championship winners at Action Express Racing are also within striking distance of the title with Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Cadillac, and it’s believed both drivers are staying on board.
Holding a 1-2-3 in the championship ahead of Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, Cadillac is in an envious position, but Mazda Motorsports isn’t far behind with its No. 55 entry in fourth, six points back from WTR, and the No. 77 RT24-P in fifth, nine points arrears. Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 ARX-05 is the last car with a realistic shot at the title, with 10 points needed to catch WTR and four races left to get it done.
Among the various Acura, Cadillac, and Mazda entries, a number of driver changes could also shape next season’s grid, including potential movement for a champion or two, that would benefit Cadillac.
Consider WTR’s move to Acura is expected to feature the return of his son Ricky as a full-timer, which means one of the two leaders in the Drivers’ standings – Ryan Briscoe or Renger van der Zande – will be hunting for a ride. And with at least one vacancy coming with Bourdais’ departure, there’s a prime DPi-V.R opening to fill.
Acura Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, who is hoping for an IndyCar return but is also open to continuing in DPi with a new team, and ATP’s reigning DPi champion Juan Pablo Montoya, serve as obvious options for Cadillac to explore. Montoya’s teammate, Dane Cameron, is said to be secure for 2021 with Meyer Shank Racing.
And let’s not forget the factory-level talent sitting on the sidelines. Former Ford prototype and GT driver Joey Hand has not worked since the 2019 season ended; his former Ford GT teammate and former Corvette DP driver Richard Westbrook is under-employed; ex-Nissan DPi drivers Colin Braun and Ryan Dalziel are in the same category, and who knows if and how many of Porsche’s IMSA GT Le Mans drivers will be on the market after the brand departs GTLM in November. As if there weren’t enough rockets to hire, one or more current IndyCar stars could be hunting for drives if their open-wheel careers come to an end in the off-season.
So far, it’s just one team changing manufacturers, but the ripples and ramifications are manyfold. If only fans were allowed into the paddocks from Mid-Ohio to Sebring, they just might enjoy spotting the various drivers and brand representatives slipping in and out of transporters as 2021’s business gets done…