INSIGHT: A DPi title battle for the ages

Richard Dole/Motorsport Images

INSIGHT: A DPi title battle for the ages

Insights & Analysis

INSIGHT: A DPi title battle for the ages

By

IMSA’s Daytona Prototype International (DPi) category is bowing out in style, with the WeatherTech Championship’s flagship class staging one of the most compelling title contests in all of motorsports this year.

That’s a statement based on quality, not quantity, because there are only two title contenders: the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 shared by Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque, and the similar No. 60 Acura fielded by Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and driven by Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis. The Taylor team heads to next weekend’s 25th annual Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta holding a 19-point lead over Meyer Shank, and barring an unusual result in qualifying, the highest placed Acura at the end of 10 hours of competition will lock up the season crown.

What has made this two-horse race so intense is the back-and-forth nature of the points chase. Following the No. 10 team’s victory at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1, the two Acuras were deadlocked atop the standings. They’ve swapped the championship lead after every race since then, taking radically different paths in the process.

Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi joined Blomqvist and Jarvis to win the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona International Speedway. But since then, the No. 60 has gone winless while the No. 10 added victories at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Watkins Glen International, and Road America to its initial 2022 triumph at Laguna Seca.

The 60’s strong point has been consistency, with a series-leading six podium finishes, including four as frustrated runner-ups. By contrast, the 10’s record includes just one other podium (second place at Daytona) and a pair of sixth place finishes. It all adds up to a wild scramble for the championship.

The 10 has a slightly better qualifying record, with three poles to two and a nine-point advantage – but the 60 has often appeared to be the faster of the two Acuras on race day. Yet the 10 has more often than not won those on-track intra-manufacturer fights – frequently after tense, wheel-to-wheel battles.

For Blomqvist and Jarvis, the frustration of losing out to the No. 10 car in races they feel they should have won – sometimes in heartbreaking fashion – is tempered by the fact that they are one of only two entries still in championship contention. They have run so consistently at the front, so often, they must feel the breaks are surely due to turn their way.

Of course, if this year’s trend of swapping the points lead after every race with the 10 car continues at Road Atlanta, the 60 will prevail…

The No.10 has amassed a nice collection of ‘Winner’ stickers over the course of the season, but the No.60’s superior consistency has kept it in the title hunt. Richard Dole/Motorsport Images

“I feel like most of the time we were ahead, but when they got the opportunity, they took it, and a lot of the time it hurt like hell,” Blomqvist admits. “Most times we were leading the race and they got the better of us. Maybe if a few things didn’t play out the way they did, we’d be in a different position now in this championship. But everything has gone the way it did, so we just have to deal with it at Road Atlanta.

“There’s a bit more on the line, but at the end of the day, we just have to do the best job we can and beat the other guys. Obviously we’ve been trying the whole year to do that. We just have to make sure our preparation is the best it can be, and we’ve left no stone unturned. If we go into that event thinking we have to do better than we have in every other event, we haven’t been doing a good enough job all year. So, the approach can’t change all that much. But it’s going to be cool and it’s going to be fun. I’m pumped and excited.”

The on-track competition between the 10 and the 60 has been surprisingly intense at times this year, given the common manufacturer affiliation. But Jarvis noted that the drivers have done an excellent job of policing themselves to avoid unnecessary clashes that would hurt the overall Acura effort.

“I think we’ve behaved ourselves pretty well between the two cars,” he notes. “I think HPD (Honda Performance Development) is probably in a nice position, because my understanding is the champion will be us or the 10 car. So, they’re going to be winners regardless. As long as we keep the respect that we have all year, I don’t see any reason for them to get involved. It’s been a tough fight all year and there’s been close calls, but it’s always been fair and respectful.

“There’s no easy way to win this championship. The way the points work, it always generally comes down to the last race. It’s tough, and that means whoever wins it, whether it’s us or the 10 car, you’ve got to take your hat off to them, because it’s not just one race, it’s a whole year’s worth of work, of performing at the top of their game.”

DPi has produced an incredibly compelling and competitive final championship battle that IMSA and both the dueling organizations can be proud of.

“We haven’t gotten the (points) lead in an easy way,” says Taylor. “We’ve had to fight for every point. Felipe has been super-strong at the end of these races and the way we’ve gotten the points lead is by fighting and pushing really hard.

“All the respect to the 60 car. They have been the consistent ones who have run a really solid season. They’ve raced an amazing season. We always try to race as clean as possible, and it’s been a really respectful year between the two Acuras. I think it says a lot about the brand and the management that they have allowed us to race so hard. We’ve pushed each other up to 1-2 in the championship to where we can now fight for it between the two of us. That says a lot about both teams.”

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR

More RACER