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Motul Petit Le Mans

October 13, 2018
2018 Laguna Seca Post Race Report
2018 Laguna Seca Post Race Report
It was a tough day in the quest to bring a second consecutive championship to the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team for Jordan Taylor, and likewise for his co-driver Renger van der Zande’s quest to win a second consecutive America’s Tire 250 Sunday afternoon at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California.

Date: Sept. 9, 2018
Event: America’s Tire 250 (Round 9 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California (2.238-mile, 11-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 1st / 12th (Mechanical, completed 18 of 103 laps)
Winner: Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek of Tequila Patron ESM (Nissan DPi)
Point Standing: 3rd (235 points, 19 out of first)

It was a tough day in the quest to bring a second consecutive championship to the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team for Jordan Taylor, and likewise for his co-driver Renger van der Zande’s quest to win a second consecutive America’s Tire 250 Sunday afternoon at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California.

A catastrophic mechanical issue on lap 18, just 39 minutes into today’s two-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, brought an abrupt and extremely disappointing end to the team’s day and, essentially, any hope for successfully defending its dominating run to the driver and team championships in 2017.

The finishing position of 13th dropped Taylor and van der Zande an almost insurmountable 19 points behind the championship-leading No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, which finished fifth here today, heading to next month’s season finale at Road Atlanta.

“Well, we had a catastrophic mechanical issue,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “I have no idea why. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this happen before. We had a really good car and I just feel really bad for everybody, especially from Konica Minolta and Cadillac. You know, you have good years and bad years. This, unfortunately, turned out to not be a good year.”

The weekend shaped up to be a prime opportunity to close the 12- and five-point gaps in the championship to the Nos. 31 and 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R entries as Taylor and van der Zande logged the fastest laps in two of the three practice sessions and Taylor blazed his way to the pole in his first and only qualifying run of the season while the rival Cadillacs qualified ninth and 11th.

Then, even before the majority of the field reached the start-finish line to start today’s race, the No. 5 Cadillac was involved in a multicar accident and retired.

Meanwhile, in a bizarre occurrence at the drop of the green flag, the polesitting Taylor watched the No. 6 Team Penske entry of outside-front-row starter Dane Cameron beat him to the start-finish line by more than a car length without incident, and then the No. 7 Team Penske entry of Helio Castroneves pass him in turn two under caution, also without incident.

Taylor remained in close pursuit of the Team Penske entries in third place for what turned out to be a brief opening stint before, shortly after crossing the start-finish line for the 18th time, he lost drive and struggled to complete the uphill climb through turns one through five before coming to a stop at the highest point on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit.

“A disappointing day, obviously,” Taylor said. “We had the strongest car all weekend – fastest in two practices and we got the pole – and it’s tough not to capitalize on a weekend like that. Right off the bat, in my opinion, the 6 car jumped the start. The polesitter should set the starting speed and he was two car lengths ahead by the time we got to the start-finish line, and then the 7 car passed me in turn two when the yellow was out. Other than that, we were looking good in the points with where we were running at the time. It’s difficult to have to end this race because of a technical issue. We’ll just go to Petit (Le Mans) and race for the win.”

Taylor’s co-driver van der Zande never had a chance to enjoy his first chance to be the finishing driver and successfully defend the race win he earned here with a dramatic pass for the lead through Laguna Seca’s iconic Corkscrew series of turns.

“It’s a big bummer,” he said. “We had the fastest car all weekend, out of the box. Both Jordan and I were probably fastest on the track. At the start, all kinds of things happened and we still had a good chance to win today. That would have been great for the championship. But it’s a technical sport and we’re losing here together. So, of course, no blame. We’re going to look at what the problem was and move forward to the last race of the season.”

For the core members of the team, it was just the 11th mechanical-related DNF (did not finish) in 177 races dating back to its Prototype-class debut in 2004.

It remained fourth in the championship, four points behind the third-place No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, 16 points behind the second-place No. 54 Core Autosport Oreca of Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett, who finished second today, and 19 points behind the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship concludes with the traditional Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance marathon at Road Atlanta Saturday, Oct. 13. Live television coverage begins on FS1 at 10:30 a.m. EDT.