2019 MID OHIO PRE RACE REPORT

When the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R driving duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande hit the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit at the last round of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, all eyes were on Taylor and how he would respond to racing mere days after undergoing an appendectomy.

2019 MID OHIO PRE RACE REPORT

Funny how sometimes the things people don’t want to talk about are the ones that get talked about the most.

When the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R driving duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande hit the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit at the last round of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, all eyes were on Taylor and how he would respond to racing mere days after undergoing an appendectomy. Aside from some noticeable discomfort when entering and exiting the racecar, it turned out Taylor was his usual stellar self when wheeling it around the racetrack in practice, qualifying and his race stint. Thus, the appendectomy was not an issue.

As the team heads to the scenic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington for Sunday’s IMSA Sports Car Challenge, the farthest thing from the minds of Taylor and van der Zande will be the fact the No. 10 team is winless in 11 previous visits to the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural road course, as it’s something they feel has zero bearing on their chances of scoring a maiden Mid-Ohio victory Sunday.

A year ago this weekend, the team and the series returned to Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2013 and for the first time with the sleek, black No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R with which it scored the 2017 driver and team championships. Van der Zande qualified fifth and the hopes were high that a trouble-free race and some crafty strategy would finally lead to the team’s long-awaited maiden Mid-Ohio win. But the race went green from start to finish, and Taylor and van der Zande just could not find a way to the front without an opportunity to get creative with their strategy.

After three weeks of much-needed rest, Taylor is looking forward to a pain-free race weekend at Mid-Ohio, and van der Zande looks to erase the painful memory of an unexpected and unfortunate impact with the turn-10 wall early in the race at Long Beach that ended the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team’s day and cost an opportune chance to extend the points lead with which it began the weekend.

Fortunately, the championship ramifications of the Long Beach result turned out to be relatively painless as the team hits the track at Mid-Ohio fourth in the standings but just four points out of first place with plenty of season – seven events – remaining. A solid result this weekend would certainly be just what the doctor ordered.

Practice for the IMSA Sports Car Challenge begins Friday with DPi-class qualifying set for 12:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live streaming video via IMSA.tv and the IMSA Mobile App beginning at 11:30 a.m. The green flag for Sunday’s s one-hour, 40-minute race is at 1:40 p.m. with live television coverage by NBCSN set for 1:30 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:

First of all, how are you feeling and how has the recovery process gone for you since Long Beach week? What kinds of things have you had to do to ensure a complete recovery?

“It’s been a decent recovery. It’s taken longer to feel 100% than I was expecting. I went to see my Doctor a couple of days after Long Beach just to make sure I didn’t do any extra damage by driving, and thankfully she said everything looked perfect. She just asked me to keep taking it easy for a little while longer, so I’ve just been relaxing at home.”

Looking back, what was it like to soldier through Long Beach weekend just days after your surgery?

“I think the pure motivation to get back into the car and the adrenaline surrounding the weekend made it a lot easier. The couple of days after the race seemed more painful than the race weekend itself, so I think just being amped up about getting back into the car helped mask a lot of the pain that was actually there.”

The team suffered a rare DNF at Long Beach but fortunately didn’t suffer too badly in the championship as a result. What’s on your and the team’s collective minds as you head to Mid-Ohio?

“We just have to get back to where we were before Long Beach. Since Petit Le Mans last year, we had two wins and a second-place finish, so we have been operating as a team at a very high level. I don’t see why we won’t be back fighting for wins in Ohio. We got lucky at Long Beach that we didn’t lose too much ground in the championship, but we can’t have another one of those weekends.”

Mid-Ohio has probably been one of the most challenging tracks for the team, historically, all the way back to when your dad and Max were co-driving there. Mid-Ohio and Road America are the only two tracks where the team has yet to score a win – in fact, just one podium in 11 races there dating back to 2004. Why do you suppose it’s been such a challenge?

“I don’t think there is any one reason that we have struggled at Mid-Ohio. Each and every race weekend that you go to is unique and has its own story and Mid-Ohio is no different. We have had some strong cars there in the past where we were fast enough to win, but other things have happened to take that chance away. I think if we just go in with an open mind and not think we have a monkey on our back when we show up to that track, we’ll be just fine.”

Do you like racing on the circuit, and why or why not?

“Yeah I enjoy driving at Mid-Ohio. It’s a very natural and old-school road course. As a driver, it’s one of the most technical tracks that we go to, so it’s a big challenge to put a good lap together. It also can create some big questions on setup for the engineer, so finding the right compromise is always interesting.”

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

The team suffered a rare DNF at Long Beach but fortunately didn’t suffer too badly in the championship as a result. What’s on your and the team’s collective minds as you head to Mid-Ohio?

“Looking back at Long Beach, I think we suffered. It was a good chance to move up, but we didn’t move down too dramatically, which was fortunate. That’s the only thing I can say about it and all we can do is look ahead.”

Mid-Ohio has probably been one of the most challenging tracks for the team, historically, all the way back to when your dad and Max were co-driving there. Mid-Ohio and Road America are the only two tracks where the team has yet to score a win – in fact, just one podium in 11 races there dating back to 2004. Why do you suppose it’s been such a challenge?

“Mid-Ohio has not been the easiest one for the team. Last year, we finished behind the faster cars and we may have the same scenario if there are other cars stronger than us. So that will make it a matter of damage control, not losing too many positions, and stay close in the championship for when we have better race weekends to come. This year, we’re not banking on our ability to win, which was the case last year. But, who knows, maybe strategy-wise we will be able to make something happen. We’re not going to stay up front we’re not going to win, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a challenge and we’re going to give it our all to make the most out of it. Last year, there was zero safety car, which gave us no opportunity to make any strategy calls or whatever. Let’s see how the race unfolds this year and hopefully there will be some opportunities.”

Do you like racing on the circuit, and why or why not?

“I really like the Mid-Ohio track. Last year was my first time there. It was low grip, it was not easy. I think, setup-wise, we are able to do some improvements coming back to that track. From the driver’s perspective, there are lots of ups and downs and lots of interesting corners and, if you combine them in the right way, you are making up time. I like the place and, especially after our bad weekend at Long Beach, I’m really looking forward to getting back there.”

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

Your overall thoughts about heading back to Mid-Ohio this weekend?

“We’ve definitely had some up and down weekends there, but overall I’ve always loved the facility there. It’s a real road course. We weren’t competitive from a race-winning standpoint there last year – it went green from start to finish so we had no chance to make something happen, strategy-wise. Our guys have been doing every bit of prep work they can to get us ready. I can say that track position is more important there than almost anywhere else we race. Even the GTLM cars are difficult to get around because they have as much if not more horsepower than we do, now, and their handling and braking is so good. But, as is always the case, I guess we’ll find a way. As long as everyone puts in 110 percent, we should be just fine. (Laughs.)”