Le Mans and WEC a goal for WTR-Andretti partnership

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Le Mans and WEC a goal for WTR-Andretti partnership

IMSA

Le Mans and WEC a goal for WTR-Andretti partnership

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Filipe Albuquerque is unambiguous when he says he’d rather be competing in an Acura for an overall victory at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans instead of in an LMP2 car. The new partnership between Wayne Taylor Racing and Andretti Autosport may just give him that opportunity in the coming years.

“One hundred percent. [Le Mans] is definitely a goal for us,” said Michael Andretti during a press conference during the Roar Before the 24 prelude to the Rolex 24 at Daytona. “With our new partners that we have with Andretti global, our goal is to be in every major racing event in the world. And obviously, LeMans is one of the big ones. And so, down the road, we definitely want to be there.”

Wayne Taylor added that it’s the one race his team hasn’t won overall and is high on his list of goals. Taylor has a class win as a driver at Le Mans, but not an overall win.

Of course, the best way to get an entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans is to race the full season of the World Endurance Championship, and Andretti says that’s the goal as well.

“That’s no secret either. We’re going to have a satellite facility over in Europe. We already have one we’re setting up and it’s going to be bigger. And one of the objectives is to hopefully have a WEC team out of there in the next few years.”

Andretti Autosport and Wayne Taylor Racing announced last month that Andretti was taking an interest in the multi-time IMSA SportsCar Championship team. Taylor says he really became open to the idea at last month’s test. While the team has taken the fight to the likes of Chip Ganassi Racing, Penske and Meyer Shank Racing over the years, Taylor said he realized that with the greater demands of the LMDh formula in the new GTP class, he needed a way to elevate his team.

“It started early on in the year Michael and I started talking and it became evident when we came to do the test here, the first test when I think we had 91 people around the car,” said Taylor. “And I was walking up and down the pit and thinking, what the heck am I going to do here? We need to step up to the next level. And I called Michael and said I think I’m ready to do this partnership. And Michael and J-F [Thorman] and and Rob [Edwards] flew down. And we literally did it there.

“In order to compete now against Ganassi and Penske, and everybody else, we just felt that we needed to have a partnership with someone who could bring a lot to the table. Although we’ve been in sports car racing longer than them, they have major assets that that are going to be helping us and are helping us with people and technology and so on. And, and so far, it’s been just really fantastic working with Michael and the guys and the drivers and very excited about the long term future.”

Adding a bit of kismet to the deal was the fact that Honda is a partner with Andretti in IndyCar, although Honda Performance Development had no involvement in the deal. Of course, Andretti also has ties to Acura’s IMSA WeatherTech Championship rival Cadillac as it seeks to gain a foothold in Formula 1, but such conflicts aren’t exactly unusual in motorsports when a team is competing across multiple championships.

The partnership is already paying dividends, notes WTR driver Ricky Taylor. As Marshall Pruett reported, Taylor will have the opportunity to test an Andretti Autosport Indy car as part of the union as well.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “First of all, the GTP programs, and the level of all the teams, has just gone astronomical. And so to be associated with WTR Andretti, it just takes us to match the field and hopefully a little bit above. But as drivers we’re just observing a very small part part of the puzzle. WTR has a great history of sports, car racing and this event in particular, and to come here, it’s been very much business as usual – adapting to a new car, obviously – with the support of some of Andretti’s technical team. I think as we go along, it’ll probably become much more integrated. But it’s been really cool to see already even if it’s not on the timing stand, support is there.”

At this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, WTR with Andretti Autosport is fielding the No. 10 Acura ARX-06 in the GTP class for Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz and Brendan Hartley. The team is also supporting the No. 93 Racers Edge with WTR Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 in the GTD class for Ashton Harrison, Kyle Marcelli, Danny Formal and Ryan Briscoe. In addition, Andretti Autosport is running the No. 36 Ligier in LMP3 for Jarett Andretti, Gabby Chaves, Dakota Dickerson and Rasmus Lindh.

You can see the full press conference here

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