Date: June 1, 2019
Event: Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix (Round 5 of 10)
Series: Daytona Prototype international division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: The Streets of Belle Isle in Detroit (2.36-mile, 13-turn temporary circuit)
Start/Finish: 6th / 9th (Running, completed 57 of 58 laps)
Winner: Dane Cameron and Juan Montoya of Team Penske (Acura DPi)
Point Standing: 5th (135 points, 17 out of first)
The Streets of Belle Isle circuit near downtown Detroit has been the scene of several of the greatest moments in the history of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, whose current co-driving tandem is Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande. Saturday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix was not one of them.
Contact on the day’s final restart after just having cracked the top-five with less than 20 minutes remaining in the one-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race led to a broken rear wing, sending Taylor to the pits for a new wing and dropping him off the lead lap and to what ended up being his finishing position of ninth.
It was a disappointing end to the weekend for the team that won here four times in a five-year stretch from 2013 to 2017, and dropped it from third to fifth in the championship, 17 points out of first with half of the 10-race season remaining.
“The whole weekend didn’t start out that well and it kind of ended that way, too,” said Taylor, who took over from van der Zande at the 36-minute mark. “When I got in, we were seventh. I got a position on the restart and, from there, it was kind of just damage control, just to try and get as many points as we could with strategy because it’s so difficult to pass. And as soon as the other guys all started to pit, we saw that as a good opportunity to make positions on strategy, so I was pushing on that lap to try and get a gap on the guys in the pits and made a small mistake. It was kind of unfortunate, but the promising thing this weekend was that at least our car was competitive. It’s too bad we leave here having taken a big hit in the points.”
From the sixth position he earned in qualifying Friday, van der Zande did his best to hold his ground at the start of the race, dropping a spot on a lap-five restart but then keeping his grip on seventh place until pitting for the driver change on the day’s second caution on lap 20 at the 36-minute mark.
Taylor regained sixth place on his first restart two laps later and stayed there until the leaders ahead of him started the final round of fuel stops under green on lap 33 at the 59-minute mark. The team asked Taylor to push for one more lap to try and make up time before calling him on the next lap, but he dropped some rear bodywork after a brush with a tire barrier to bring out a yellow during his fuel stop. He resumed in seventh and again moved up to sixth just before the final, fateful restart.
“There’s really not a lot to say,” van der Zande said. “On my stint, it wasn’t a brilliant stint but we kept at it. There was a lot of chaos on track. We expected rain but there was no rain. By the end of the race, we had a couple of incidents, lost a lap making the repair. About the only positive we take out of here is that we learned a lot about the car but, otherwise, it was not a good points day. We have the second half of the season to make it up.”
The polesitting No. 6 Team Penske entry co-driven by Juan Montoya and Dane Cameron scored the victory for the second race in a row, holding off the runner-up No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani – the championship points leaders – by .820 of a second. The No. 7 Team Penske entry co-driven by Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves was third.
Round six of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the annual Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International on Sunday, June 30. Live video coverage of the six-hour endurance marathon is slated for streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App beginning at 9:35 a.m. EDT. A condensed, three-hour, same-day-delayed broadcast on NBCSN is set for 7 p.m.