2019 LONG BEACH PRE RACE REPORT
2019 LONG BEACH PRE RACE REPORT
The championship-leading duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team hit the seaside streets of Long Beach, California, looking to start a couple of new winning streaks during Saturday’s opening sprint race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix.


The championship-leading duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team hit the seaside streets of Long Beach, California, looking to start a couple of new winning streaks during Saturday’s opening sprint race of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix.

Taylor, van der Zande and their new third endurance co-driver Matthieu Vaxivière of France came within 1.030 seconds of the team’s third consecutive victory when they had to settle for a runner-up finish at last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. That margin of victory by the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R team represented the closest finish in the 67-year history of the Sebring endurance marathon, and it ended the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team’s run of consecutive victories at last year’s season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and this year’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Still, Taylor and van der Zande arrive in Long Beach with a share of the points lead thanks to the Daytona victory they co-drove to with Formula One veteran Fernando Alonso and former Formula One and current FIA World Endurance Championship regular Kamui Kobayashi, and the runner-up finish at Sebring. They are tied atop the championship with the No. 31 Action Express team, the Rolex 24 runner-up, with the No. 7 Team Penske entry third in the standings, eight points back.

A year ago this weekend, Taylor and van der Zande co-drove to a third-place finish on the 1.97-mile, 11-turn temporary street course that was the team’s fifth consecutive Long Beach podium finish. Sandwiched between last year’s third-place finish and the runner-up finish by Taylor and his older brother Ricky Taylor in 2014 was a remarkable three consecutive Long Beach victories by the Taylor brothers from 2015 to 2017. During that three-year run of dominance, featuring wins from the pole in 2015 and 2017 and from the outside-front-row starting position in 2016, the Konica Minolta team led 183 of 216 laps – 84.7 percent.

Riding the momentum of three consecutive top-two finishes and banking on the team’s success on what is arguably its most successful event, Taylor and van der Zande certainly have every reason to be optimistic a pair of new winning streaks can start this weekend.

Practice for the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix begins at 10:40 a.m. EDT Friday with DPi-class qualifying set for 9 p.m. Race time for Saturday’s one-hour, 40-minute event is 5:05 p.m. with live television set for NBCSN beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday qualifying will be streamed live on IMSAtv.com and the IMSA Mobile App beginning at 8:30 p.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and via the IMSA smartphone app.

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

After 36 hours of racing to start the season, you head to Long Beach for a one-hour, 40-minute sprint for the first time this season. Talk about how differently you have to approach things while attacking a short weekend and a sprint race.

“Long Beach is always an intense race and a big change of pace from the first two races of the year. Daytona and Sebring are all about survival for the first portion of the race, and then you go racing in the last few hours. Long Beach is an all-out sprint race and street fight from start to finish. There’s no time to hang around and no reason to race cautiously.”

The team has been extremely successful at Long Beach since it started racing there in 2014. What are some of your favorite memories of your races at Long Beach?

“Every year we’ve been to Long Beach has had a nice memory in some way. Our first trip there was when we announced our partnership with Konica Minolta and we were able to stand on the podium. Then, winning the next three years was obviously great. Two of those years we made moves on track to pass for the win, and 2017 was an exciting one where it came down to the last few minutes. Last year, we had a tough race, but it was also a fun battle with Ricky (Taylor) over the last spot on the podium.”

How do you like the Long Beach event, in general, and what are some of the reasons you like racing there and being in and around Southern California?

“I have always enjoyed going to Long Beach. Maybe part of it is because we have had so much success, but it is an intense weekend. There is no room for error or mistakes if you want to have a good finish. From qualifying to the race, you have to be on top of your game.”

You’re leading the points and will have the first pit stall. How big of a deal will that be for this race, and what will it take to get back to winning again at Long Beach?

“It’s always a nice feeling when you go into a race as the points leader. With track position being so important, having the first pit stall can make or break your race in the pit stop cycles. With how competitive the series is, any little advantage you can get goes a long way.”

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

After 36 hours of racing to start the season, you head to Long Beach for a one-hour, 40-minute sprint for the first time this season. Talk about how differently you have to approach things while attacking a short weekend and a sprint race.

“I always enjoy the short race weekends. Long Beach is very short, which is more like a sprint race. It’s about being super accurate, as it’s a street track, a short race, and because the competition is very tough, especially with the new BoP (Balance of Performance) that came out, which is not in our favor. There is no time to lose in moving forward with the setup during the weekend and you need to position yourself well in the race because it’s short.

The team has been extremely successful at Long Beach since it started racing there in 2014. What are some of your favorite memories of your races at Long Beach?

“I had a bad one in 2017, where we had a brake failure and could not even start the race, so last year is my favorite, for sure, with the podium finish.”

How do you like the Long Beach event, in general, and what are some of the reasons you like racing there and being in and around Southern California?

“Every race weekend in California is nice. The whole trip is good and the fans that come out are always excited. Everyone you talk to about Long Beach knows about the history of the event and it’s a real privilege to race around the streets there.”

You’re leading the points and will have the first pit stall. How big of a deal will that be for this race, and what will it take to get back to winning again at Long Beach?

“Being at the end of the pits will help the engineers to judge the strategy better, so we better make use of it. To win this race will first be about not making mistakes, It’s easy to end up in the wall or get in trouble. Also, tire wear was a big issue last year, so keeping the tires alive will be a key factor.”

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, especially when you’re in the position we are in the championship and, if for no other reason, because we’ve done so well there. 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 as it’s where we announced our partnership five years ago. We had a great start to the season at Daytona and Sebring, so the confidence level among the drivers and the team seems to be in a very good place. I say this every year, but this really may be the most competitive Long Beach race, yet, in terms of strength of field from top to bottom.”