Wayne Taylor Racing

Rolex 24 champs come up short in close finish to 12 Hours of Sebring

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Had the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. passed just one more car in the closing laps of Saturday’s 12 Hours of Sebring, the team would have won all three of North America’s premier sports car races in succession.

With Jordan Taylor closing the race behind the wheel, the No. 10 finished second to Action Express’ No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R. by just 1.030 seconds – the closest overall finish in race history.

WTR entered the weekend coming off back-to-back victories in the 2018 season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and this year’s Rolex 24 season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Despite finishing second, it was all smiles for Taylor, who shared the entry with Renger van de Zande and Mattieu Vaxiviere.

We had a third-place car all day, so to finish second was good,” Taylor said. “I think we overshot what we were capable of today. It was a good points day. We would have loved to win Sebring again, but I didn’t think it was worth a huge risk for the points to make a move there at the end. I am happy with second, and we will go on to Long Beach.”

Indeed, the team’s runner-up finish was an achievement to celebrate. They began the race with an unscheduled pit stop to correct an overheating problem. Not long after, there was more bad luck with a pit-road speeding penalty, forcing the car off the lead lap for a time.

But with plenty of hours remaining, the team was able to get back up front by the second half of the race, and Taylor found himself in position to take the win from Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 on the final restart with 7 minutes to go.

However, Nasr quickly stepped on the gas coming to the green, leaving Taylor in his dust and ultimately pulling away to the checkered flag.

Even so, WTR knew it was still a great day in regards to the DPi championship. Having traded wins in the first 2 races with the No. 31 Action Express team, the teams are tied atop the class standings.

“It was a long race and I think we did well in the end,” van de Zande said. “We missed out a little bit on speed compared to the guys who won, but we made the most out of it apart from that. Being second here is good points. It kept our podium streak alive, and there were a lot of positives. We would’ve loved to have won this one, but you can’t always have it all. It’s fine. It’s OK.”

The next race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix, which will take place on the streets of Long Beach, California, on April 13. Coverage will begin at 4:30pm ET on NBCSN.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”