Ricky Taylor delivered a fourth consecutive IMSA victory for Acura at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, holding off a furious last-lap charge by Felipe Nasr to remain atop the results and points standings Sunday.
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura finished 0.368 seconds ahead of the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac as Taylor masterfully conserved fuel while maintaining enough pace on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio.
Taylor and teammate Filipe Albuquerque remained atop the DPi standings in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship through three races having also won the Rolex 24 at Daytona season opener.
It was the second consecutive victory and third at Mid-Ohio for Ricky Taylor (who won with Team Penske in 2020) but the first for his father’s IMSA team at the circuit. Road America is the only active track unconquered by Wayne Taylor Racing, which has 44 IMSA victories.
“For Acura, four in a row at Mid-Ohio is just fantastic,” Ricky Taylor told NBC Sports pit reporter Parker Kligerman after his 26th career victory. “Everybody’s here from Acura. The fuel economy of this Acura was just outstanding.
“All credit to the guys, really. I was only pushing as hard as they told me I could, and they had all the numbers in their head, and I was just praying and trusting them. Filipe gave me the car in an awesome position. We got a little unlucky with that yellow that the 31 was able to dive in (to the pits), but we were determined to get four in a row for Acura today.”
Nasr and teammate Pipo Derani finished a season-best second, followed by the pole-sitting Mazda of Oliver Jarvis and Harry Tincknell.
The only yellow flag in the two-hour, 40-minute race flew with just over an hour remaining, and the six DPi cars all pitted on the edge of their fuel windows. Nasr led on the restart, but Taylor quickly made what became the decisive pass for the lead.
Nasr also had to mind his fuel economy in the closing laps.
“That was the name of the game: saving fuel,” Nasr said in a team release. “I have to credit Whelen Engineering Racing. They did an awesome job on strategy, especially on getting clear track and having enough fuel to go to the end.
— IMSA (@IMSA) May 16, 2021
“But I have to say it was a little too extreme. That made me lose that position. We wanted to win that race. It was hard to do everything at the same time – save fuel, keep temperature in the tires. We knew the Acuras had a little more in their two tanks. So, they had a margin to play [with]; whereas we were on the extreme limit.
“I think I saved the most fuel I ever have in a race. I’m happy and sad at the same time because once you feel you can grab the win and then let it go. It’s hard. But that’s racing. We made the most of what we had. We came away with a lot of points, (and) we haven’t been up on the podium yet this year.”
Said Albuquerque after starting the race in the No. 10 and earning his first Mid-Ohio victory: “Unbelievable race, this is all about IMSA. It was an amazing show for everyone. Two hours and 40 minutes of craziness. I fought hard during my stint and then it continued like this until the very last corner.
“It was an amazing strategy with the fuel, because everyone was tight. We were saying ‘Ricky you need to save fuel and hold position.’ We were asking everything from him, and he pulled it off.”
In other divisions:
–LMP3: The No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 with drivers Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga scored its second victory of the season and 15th class triumph at IMSA. It’s the team’s first win at Mid-Ohio.
It also was the first career victory for Fraga and the second for Robinson (both this season). Both drivers won for the first time at Mid-Ohio.
–GTD: The No. No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley won for the first time in 2021 and the 22nd class victory (fourth at Mid-Ohio) for the team, which extended its streak to 22 seasons with at least one victory.
With his sixth win at Mid-Ohio, Auberlen extended his record career victory total to 63.
— IMSA (@IMSA) May 16, 2021
POINTS: Through three races the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing leads the DPi points standings by 55 over the No. 55 Mazda (1,070-1,015) through three races. The No. 5 Cadillac is third in the points with 925.
Acura leads the manufacturer standings with 1094 points, ahead of Cadillac (1,090) and Mazda (1,017).
The No. 74 is tops in LMP3 over the No. 54 (715-690). In GTD, the No. 96 leads by seven points (920-913) in the team standings over the No. 23.
STATS PACKAGE FOR ACURA SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE AT MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE:
NEXT: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will resume with the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle Park, June 11-12.