IMSA: Taylors among several who extend win streaks at COTA

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R continued its win streak in the fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

Brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor dominated the weekend in Prototype thanks in large part to an incredible setup from the off from the Wayne Taylor Racing team.

This means they’ve now won more races in the first four races this year than they did all of last year, three, on four entirely different types of circuits and race lengths – in spite of various Balance of Performance adjustments assessed in the opening weekends.

“It was really nice today,” said Ricky Taylor. “It was one of the best race cars I’ve ever had. The team has just done an amazing preparation for this car. We’re just getting to know it more and more. Every race weekend we’re learning. This weekend, it shows how much we’ve developed through the year. We unloaded off the truck really strong, then qualified really well. It was fantastic.”

Action Express Racing returned to the podium after a nightmare Long Beach, with defending class champions Dane Cameron and Eric Curran second in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac ahead of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac.

The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson of Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg ended fourth for the third straight race with the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi completing the top five in the hands of Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown. The second Nissan, Ryan Dalziel’s and Scott Sharp’s, was poised for a podium before a late fire within the final seven minutes.

What looked like a golden opportunity for BMW Team RLL and its BMW M6 GTLM to finally break through in GT Le Mans went awry even after both cars survived a five-car pileup in class at the first turn of the first lap.

Corvette Racing seized its chance with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia moving forward early, Magnussen climbing from sixth to third at the first lap, and then taking the lead in his No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Once over to Garcia the car was never headed the rest of the day. It’s Corvette Racing’s third straight win as a team, with the No. 3 adding this win to its Sebring win, and what should have been a Long Beach win was picked up by the sister No. 4 car.

“I definitely made the right choice to pick the inside line,” said Magnussen. “Everything was happening on the outside and a few cars got in big trouble and had some heavy damage. I’m really happy I escaped all that without a scratch.”

BMW’s No. 25 and 24 cars finished second and third, short of a win but at least on the podium. The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR was fourth, and the other five cars in class were all damaged or out as a result of the first turn chaos.

GT Daytona saw the Mercedes-AMG GT3 win its third straight race, in the hands of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3 for the second time. This is Keating’s fourth class win in five COTA starts, and Bleekemolen’s third in five.

Scuderia Corsa banked another podium with defending champions Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan in their No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3, while the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored its second podium of the year with Tristan Vautier and Kenny Habul.

Performance Tech Motorsports also carried its win streak through to a third straight event, with James French and Pato O’Ward top of the three-car Prototype Challenge class in its No. 38 Oreca FLM09.

Next up for IMSA is Detroit in June, except for the GTLM class, which is off until Watkins Glen in July to allow teams competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to prep for that.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.