Wayne Taylor Racing confirms all-new driver lineup for 2021 IMSA season

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Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi sent Acura Team Penske out on top.

Now, they’ve all joined the team they held off for this past season’s DPi title in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Ricky Taylor will partner with Portugal’s Filipe Albuquerque to run the full season in Wayne Taylor Racing’s new No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05.

IndyCar regular Rossi, who supported Ricky Taylor and Castroneves as their entry’s third driver for Endurance Cup races, will now serve in the same role at WTR.

And Castroneves, who finally earned the first championship of his career, completes WTR’s lineup for the Rolex 24 on Jan. 30-31 at Daytona International Speedway.

“I am extremely excited about securing the three drivers that have been driving the Acura ARX-05 the past few years, as well as Filipe Albuquerque, who has been driving a similar car in Europe with great success,” team owner Wayne Taylor said in a statement.

“With us as a team changing manufacturers, I wanted to have consistency in the drivers and with this group, that is one thing we can tick off the list.

” … It is certainly a new challenge, but I believe we have the right people and the right drivers in place to be competitive and win races.”

Ricky Taylor, the oldest son of Wayne Taylor, returns to the family team after previous stints from 2010-2012 and 2014-2017.

Ricky and brother Jordan Taylor, now at Corvette Racing, won the 2017 IMSA Prototype title for WTR before Ricky departed to Team Penske in 2018.

“I grew up with (WTR) and they helped develop me as a driver,” Ricky Taylor said. “It was a very difficult decision to leave the team in 2017 and join Acura Team Penske, but I was able to grow more.

“It’s always great to go somewhere and bring value to the team, so now that I feel like when I return, I can do that.”

Albuquerque ran a partial IMSA schedule for Action Express Racing in 2020, but had a banner year overseas.

Driving for the United Autosports team, Albuquerque claimed LMP2 titles in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, and an LMP2 class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As for Castroneves, his Rolex 24 run adds to a busy 2021 for him that includes six IndyCar races for Meyer Shank Racing and appearances in the Superstar Racing Experience, the new all-star series from NASCAR Hall of Famers Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham.

WTR has made a full changeover from its 2020 roster, which included Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande (full season), IndyCar champion Scott Dixon (Endurance Cup), and Kamui Kobayashi (Rolex 24).

That foursome won in January at the Rolex 24, while the trio of Briscoe, van der Zande and Dixon won last month’s Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Briscoe and van der Zande ended up finishing second in this past season’s DPi standings to Castroneves and Ricky Taylor by a single point.

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”