2018 Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix Race Report
2018 Mobil 1 Sports Car Grand Prix Race Report
The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande powered their way to a much needed podium finish of second in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, leading a race-high 71 laps along the way and creeping to within 10 points of the championship points lead.

Date: July 8, 2018
Event: Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix (Round 7 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (2.459-mile, 10-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 4th / 2nd (Running, completed 116 of 116 laps)
Winner: Colin Braun and Jonathan Bennett of Core Autosport (Oreca LMP2)
Point Standing: 3rd (188 points, 10 out of first)

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande powered their way to a much needed podium finish of second in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, leading a race-high 71 laps along the way and creeping to within 10 points of the championship points lead.

It was the team’s third podium of the season and first since back-to-back finishes of second and third, respectively, at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (Fla.) in March and the Bubba Burger Grand Prix on the Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix street circuit in April.

The way the race evolved into the latter stages, it appeared Taylor and van der Zande were on their way to the team’s first victory since 12 races ago – in June of last season – on the Streets of Belle Isle circuit in downtown Detroit. Van der Zande led the final 18 laps of his opening stint and Taylor led 53 of the first 55 laps of his closing stint before Colin Braun of the No. 54 Core Autosport Oreca LMP2 slipped past him and into the lead just before the race’s final full-course caution with just 13 minutes remaining in the two-hour, 40-minute race.

Braun’s victory was the first in the Prototype class in WeatherTech Championship competition for his Core Autosport team and co-driver Jonathan Bennett, and it came in worst-to-first fashion. Braun qualified on the pole Saturday, shattering the track record over the 2.459-mile, 10-turn racing circuit, but the team elected to have Bennett start the race and leave the closing duties to Braun, sending the No. 54 car to the back of the Prototype-class grid for not starting its qualifying driver.

A pair of late-race cautions tightened up the field and erased comfortable leads under green-flag conditions enjoyed by Taylor, and Braun was able to slip past him from the second position on a lap-108 restart, then pulled away for the win over the final eight laps of the race.

“I think we had a dominant day, all things considered,” said Taylor, who scored his fourth podium finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the last five seasons, including a victory in 2015. “Renger was able to control things from the front once the 6 car (Team Penske entry) went off strategy. We were basically in fuel-saving mode and staying out of trouble. Renger had a flawless stint and pulled a good gap. And, once I was in, we were still able to control things and had good pace. But, as soon as the 54 car came through the field, there was no stopping them. All things considered, a second-place finish is good for the championship. I think it should’ve been a win, but that part of it was out of our control. So, we’ll go to Road America and keep fighting and hopefully contend for some wins.”

Van der Zande qualified fourth Saturday and started the race third after Bennett and the polesitting No. 54 Core Autosport car was moved to the back of the Prototype grid. The Dutch driver immediately jumped into second place behind the No. 6 Team Penske entry of Dane Cameron and stayed there until the No. 10 team’s first fuel-and-tire stop under caution on lap 20. Van der Zande resumed in the top-five while Cameron’s team elected to stay on track. The Penske car finally pitted for the first time 16 laps later, at the 50-minute mark of the race, and van der Zande took control of the race for the next 18 laps before turning the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R over to Taylor.

“I had a good time,” said van der Zande, whose qualifying effort of fourth was the team’s best since he qualified on the pole at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. “The start obviously was very good, we jumped up to second. We then considered it was going to be a fuel-saving race, so that’s what we went for. I started saving fuel wherever I could. We came out fourth after the first pit stop but, on the restart, I was able to go by the other Cadillac of (Felipe) Nasr, which was great, and I was able to pass the 99 car, which was lightning quick on the straight – there was no chance on the straight to even follow them, so it was a nice move for P2. Then Dane (Cameron, No. 6 Team Penske driver) had to come into the pits and we took the lead. I think in traffic, we had a good car, which was very helpful. I was coasting around and saving a lot of fuel and still was quick. This is what I come racing for in the U.S., because of those kinds of dogfights on restarts, that’s what I love to do.”

Taylor took the reins of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R on lap 50, one hour and 13 minutes into the race, and was able to stay in the lead thanks to quick work by his pit crew. His lead was never threatened until he made his final fuel-and-tire stop at the two-hour mark on lap 88, resuming in third place but quickly reassuming the lead two laps later after the field completed its round of stops.

Meanwhile, Braun kept creeping forward from the back of the Prototype order and positioned himself in second behind Taylor by lap 98 at the two-hour, 13-minute mark. Taylor held him off during a lap-102 restart and stayed in front until Braun slipped past just as the yellow flag waved once again five laps later at the two-hour, 27-minute mark.

Braun easily pulled away on the lap-109 restart and went on to cross the finish line 3.431 seconds ahead of Taylor, who over the final eight laps successfully held off the Nos. 31 and 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, which finished third and fourth, respectively.

“I wouldn’t say we’re the happiest team right now, but we cannot be unhappy with second place,” van der Zande said. “It’s good for the points and we did everything right today and I think we should be very, very proud of having a car that we could fight with. My stint was cool and Jordan did a great stint and the winning car was just in a different league today and that’s why we lost the race. I’m happy for the points we gained but unhappy that we lost, at the same time.”

With the runner-up finish, the No. 10 team pulled to within 10 points of the championship-leading No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R and within nine points of the second-place No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R with three events remaining.

“The team was the best in pit lane today, it executed perfectly, our drivers were fantastic, our strategy was perfect, but it was just a difficult pill to swallow getting beat by a car that came from last on the grid,” team owner Wayne Taylor said. “I’m proud of the team and am happy for Konica Minolta and Cadillac. We won the Cadillac race for the second week in a row, and the guys worked all weekend long to put us in a great position to win this race. I just feel bad for them to not get rewarded for all their effort. I’m a big fan of Colin Braun and all, and he did an excellent job, but it’s been really tough to compete against those teams. In the big picture, I’m proud we’ve been able to keep inching closer to the championship lead after we were 15th coming out of Daytona. We keep gaining points on the 5 and 31, lately. We have three races to overcome the deficit and we’ll just soldier on, keep our heads down and keep working.”

Round eight on the 10-event IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar for 2018 is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. FS1’s live race broadcast Sunday, Aug. 5, begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT.