2018 Long Beach Pre Race Report
2018 Long Beach Pre Race Report
Having won their last three street fights on the historic Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit, it’s anything but a “four-gone” conclusion that the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team will be standing atop that victory podium on Shoreline Drive once again at the end of Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Bubba Burger Grand Prix.

LONG BEACH, California (April 10, 2018) – Having won their last three street fights on the historic Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit, it’s anything but a “four-gone” conclusion that the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team will be standing atop that victory podium on Shoreline Drive once again at the end of Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Bubba Burger Grand Prix.

But co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and the team that stands behind them certainly have no reason to doubt they have what it takes to make it a Long Beach four-peat during Saturday’s first all-out sprint race of the season, despite perhaps the strongest field of Prototype-class entries – 14 to be exact – ever to contest for a Saturday race win on the famous seaside street circuit.

After Taylor and his older brother Ricky co-drove the No. 10 Prototype to a solid runner-up finish in their Long Beach debut in 2014 – to none other than Motorsports Hall of Fame driver Scott Pruett and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Memo Rojas – the Taylor brothers essentially took ownership of the event from 2015 through 2017. They qualified on the front row each time, including pole positions in 2015 and 2017, and led a remarkable 183 of 216 possible laps, or 85 percent, in those three consecutive victories.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the team has also shown similar dominance on the only other street circuit on the WeatherTech series – the Streets of Belle Isle in downtown Detroit – where the team has won four times in the last five years. Three of those were also by the Taylor brothers in 2014, 2016 and 2017, and the other, in 2013, by Jordan Taylor and retired Italian veteran Max “The Ax” Angelelli.

Enter van der Zande, the Dutch driving veteran who this year replaced Ricky Taylor after he left to join the new, two-car Team Penske Prototype-class effort. The 32-year-old is certainly slouch on street circuits, himself, having scored an LMPC-class podium finish at Long Beach in 2016, and back-to-back class victories at Detroit in 2015 and 2016, all with Starworks Motorsport. The No. 10 has not missed a beat with the arrival of van der Zande, who promptly qualified on the pole at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, and drove a stellar finishing stint in bringing home the team’s solid runner-up finish at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring last month.

Can Taylor and van der Zande and the No.10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team make it four in a row at Long Beach? Stay tuned.

Practice for Saturday’s Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach begins Friday morning with Prototype-class qualifying set for 9 p.m. EDT Friday. The green flag for the one-hour, 40-minute sprint race flies at 4:05 p.m. Saturday with the FOX network providing live coverage beginning at 4 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA smartphone app.

JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

After mixed results in the first two endurance events at Daytona and Sebring, you come to Long Beach this weekend looking to win your fourth race in a row there. Your thoughts overall?

“Well, obviously we are coming back after winning Long Beach three years in a row. Last year, we had a tough battle to win the race, but we were also able to win Detroit last year, so we come back with a lot of confidence on street-course events, in general. Since then, we’ve had a lot of time to develop our Cadillac, so I’m excited to see how strong our car will be after everything we learned throughout 2017 and the first two races this season. I think most of the field will be competitive. We look at the event last year and we didn’t have the fastest car in the race. We come back this year with even more cars and an overall higher-quality field. I don’t think there’s any one car or team that we’ve got our eyes on, but we can only really focus on what we’re doing. We need to try and maximize everything that we have control over and execute as well as possible in the race.”

Is there something about street circuits that suits you, considering you’ve been almost unbeatable on them in recent years?

“I don’t think there’s anything about street circuits in particular that suit me. I think the street circuits require a bit of patience, and you can get caught out quickly if you are too aggressive. The street-course weekends always have a very compact schedule, so you have to be on top of your game at all times to get up to speed and develop the car. The tough thing about Long Beach is how much it develops over the weekend. The track is only used one week out of the year so, from the first session of the weekend to the last, the track picks up a huge amount of grip and the balance of the car is constantly changing. Then you add in half the track being used by the Drift cars and covered in drift rubber, and you never have a consistent car. I enjoy the history of the event. I grew up watching onboard videos of the track and of the streets. It’s cool to be in the car seeing what those guys saw back in the day. Long Beach always brings a huge crowd. The event has a huge history dating back to Formula One, and the promoters always do a good job of providing entertainment on and off the track for the fans.”

RENGER VAN DER ZANDE, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

You head to Long Beach for the first time with the team that has won the last three races in a row there, and you happen to have tasted success, yourself, on the street circuits in recent years. What is it about street circuits for you, and what are your thoughts about this weekend?

“I love street tracks because of the danger, the evolution of the track gripping up during the race weekend, and adapting the car setup and driving to it. Macau is the craziest track of all and I love going there. It’s the same thing as Long Beach, where it comes together with a great city and atmosphere. IMSA slowed all the DPi’s down, which I totally get, to get the LMP2 cars more into the fight. I think they will have a good shot, now, which means there are more than 10 cars that can win. It’s about staying out of trouble and waiting for your chances. The competition will be rough. We performed to the max at Sebring and it just showed our potential that we had at Daytona. I believe we have good momentum and, looking at the track record of the team and Jordan at Long Beach, there is a lot of good information that I will love to take in and use.”

How do you like travelling to and racing in Southern California, in general?

“Apart from it being so far away, I very much love California. It’s an area I love to come over for, especially when it’s for racing. I think the street track setting gives that little extra racing feel when you hear the engines screaming between the buildings. And on top of that, I love to know that when we have the early practice session on Friday morning, we are the wake-up alarm for a lot of people in the neighborhood that morning.”

WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

Your overall thoughts about heading back to Long Beach this weekend?

“I’m always really excited to go back to Long Beach, and if for no other reason this year than because we’ve won it three times in a row. It’s great to be there with Cadillac and Konica Minolta. For Cadillac, it’s always going to be a big weekend. And it’s going to be another special one for Konica Minolta in the place we announced our partnership four years ago. We had a rough start to the season at Daytona, but we certainly bounced back and looked very strong at Sebring, so the confidence level among the drivers and the team seems to be in a very good place. This may well be the most competitive Long Beach race, yet, in terms of strength of field from top to bottom.”