It’s a common practice for teams to make a beeline for closest race track and start turning laps after receiving brand-new cars, or when switching from one brand to another. The quest to begin learning about the new machine is a priority for most programs, but Wayne Taylor Racing has taken a different approach in its transition from Cadillac to Acura in IMSA’s DPi class.
The offseason move from campaigning its championship-winning Cadillac DPi-V.R to welcoming Acura’s title-winning ARX-05s into its shop was met with an absence of urgency to fire up the ex-Team Penske prototypes and begin logging miles. In fact, the first laps turned by the No. 10 WTR Acura came days ago at Sebring during a brief visit before sending the car to this week’s Roar Before The 24 test at Daytona. The last-minute Sebring outing was by no means a surprise; Taylor made the call to clear WTR’s testing calendar shortly after Penske handed over Acura’s race-used DPis in November.
Finding out what the ORECA-built chassis wants to perform at its peak will start at the Roar when full-time drivers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, plus endurance driver Alexander Rossi and Rolex 24 pilot Helio Castroneves strap into the black and blue DPi. And while there’s a significant comfort zone by have three ex-Acura Team Penske drivers in the squad and a prototype veteran in Albuquerque, WTR’s engineering team is where the ARX-05 tuning experience is starting from scratch.
“When the condition we receive the cars does not allow us the time to build a car for the 24 Hour like we normally do, and we feel that we’ve got three drivers that have driven this car for the last three years and don’t need any learning anything, and Albuquerque would figure out the car in one lap, we saw it more important to take the time make the cars bulletproof,” Taylor told RACER.
“And it’s just been an enormous amount of work, a lot more than we thought. We thought that the car would have been ready to go to testing literally right after the last race at Sebring, but that wasn’t the case, and so my team and all the Honda Performance Development people have put in enormous amount of work to get all these new and old cars running to be ready for the Roar.”
Taylor points to the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31 as the primary reason for skipping WTR’s traditional offseason testing routine. Between rebuilding what it received from Team Penske to assembling a brand-new Acura ARX-05 that has become the primary No. 10 chassis, Taylor believes the extra time invested in perfecting its ARX-05s will pay off in Daytona.
“We have won three out of the last four Rolex 24s, and Acura has not won a 24-hour race yet with this car, so for us, it’s a really, really big, big focus,” he said. “I actually wish we had more time. I remember talking to (Team Penske president) Tim Cindric one day about the Indy 500, and he told me how many months they prepare their cars for that one race, and that’s pretty much what we do for this Daytona race.
“We weren’t going to compromise that by just going to test for the sake of testing because we know what the car can do — they showed the car was competitive last year, now we just got to put it all together, and I think I’ve got a great engineer, I’ve got great mechanics, and great drivers. So I’m not concerned about the process we’ve chosen by delaying testing. The same people who have won everything for Wayne Taylor Racing and our partners are running this Acura, so being fully ready for Daytona is definitely more important to us.”