Taylor Brothers, Lynn Victorious at Sebring
Convincing Win in 12-Hour Classic Backs Up Season-Opening Rolex 24 Triumph in Just Second Race for New Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R Prototype
Date: March 18, 2017
Event: 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (Round 2 of 10)
Series: Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
Location: Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway (3.74-mile, 17-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 6th / 1st (Running, Completed 348 of 348 laps)
Winner: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor and Alex Lynn of Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R (Cadillac DPi-V.R)
Point Standing: 1st (70 points, five ahead of second)
Call it a remarkably trouble-free sweep of the “36 Hours of Florida” for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R duo of brothers and full-time co-drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, who with new third co-driver Alex Lynn of Great Britain scored a convincing win Saturday in the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the heels of the team’s resounding season-opening victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona the last weekend in January.
Once again, it was older brother Ricky Taylor who started and finished Saturday’s endurance classic on the treacherous Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway 3.74-mile, 17-turn road circuit, this time crossing the finish line a convincing 13.614 seconds ahead of the runner-up No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque with the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R of Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Mike Conway coming home third, albeit a lap down, to make it an all-Cadillac podium.
“A 1-2-3 for Cadillac is unbelievable,” said Ricky Taylor, who made a late-race pass of Albuquerque to secure the Rolex 24 win seven weeks ago and Saturday took the lead for good over Barbosa on the final exchange of pit stops with 33 minutes remaining and stretched his margin over the final 19 laps to the checkered flag. “To say that a brand-new car out of the box has run 36 hours of racing absolutely flawlessly, I don’t think that has ever happened. It is a testament to Cadillac and all of the development partners. It says so much about the brand and the serious effort they have brought to sportscar racing. The Cadillac is the toughest car to beat. The (No. 5) Mustang Sampling and (No. 31) Whelen cars are fast. I am sure they are going to bring it at Long Beach and the rest of the season.”
Taylor’s ability to stay ahead of Barbosa after the final exchange of pit stops was what turned out to seal the deal for the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, which patiently stayed within relative striking distance over the first two-thirds of the 12-hour endurance marathon but worked a brilliant strategy to take charge of its destiny over the final third and benefitted from some brilliant driving by the Taylor brothers and the 23-year-old Lynn.
While the No. 5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R dominated the first seven hours of the race and ultimately finished with a race-high 168 laps led, a string of stints during which the Taylor brothers stretched the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R’s fuel mileage several laps beyond that of the No. 5 car’s set the stage for the pit stop that turned the tide. With a scheduled driver change at the seven-and-a-half-hour mark, the team opted to pit early on the same lap as the No. 5 car. Needing much less fuel at the time, the team was able to replace Ricky Taylor with Lynn behind the wheel and get the car back on track well ahead of the No. 5 car. Lynn was able to maintain a comfortable margin over the No. 5 car until Albuquerque was able to slip past for the lead near the end of the stint.
Jordan Taylor took over for Lynn with just over three hours remaining and, within 30 minutes, he regained the lead by passing Albuquerque while maneuvering onto the front straight. From there, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R led all but four laps and finished with 106 total laps led.
“It is absolutely unbelievable,” Lynn said of the victory in his first career North American sportscar start after a stellar start to his young career in mostly open-wheel cars in his native Europe. “I am at a loss for words to describe it. Jordan and Ricky are amazing teammates. They drove an awesome race today. The team was flawless. It is 36 hours of zero problems for Cadillac on the racetrack. The team has won the two biggest races in America and a podium sweep for Cadillac today. A great result for all concerned.”
For Jordan Taylor, it completed a career grand slam of the world’s four iconic endurance events – the Rolex 24, the Sebring 12-hour, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Petit Le Mans – something his father and team owner, three-time sportscar champion Wayne Taylor, also achieved in his illustrious career.
“It was a great run,” Jordan Taylor said. “It is more proof that this platform is great. We’ve run 36 hours of racing without a single problem. It is great to have Konica Minolta in victory lane again, and to celebrate that with Ricky and Alex is really special.”
Saturday’s victory also gave both Taylor brothers the distinction of sweeping both the Rolex 24 and Sebring 12-hour events in the same season, a feat their father also completed 21 years ago to the day en route to his first sportscar championship in 1996.
“I came into this weekend actually thinking how great it would be if my sons could duplicate the milestones that I was able to achieve in my career and to see those things actually happen is just unbelievable,” Wayne Taylor said. “I’m just so happy for them, for Alex to be able to come here and win his very first race in America, for our entire team that has worked so hard, as well as our partners Konica Minolta and Cadillac and GM who we’ve been with for so very long. Without all of them, none of this would be possible. It took a while for it to sink in that we finally won the Daytona 24-hour. Now, I think it’s going to take a bit for it to sink in that we won Daytona and Sebring back-to-back – with our brand new Cadillac. It’s already been a season of memories that will last the rest of our lives.”
Round three of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) seaside street circuit Saturday, April 8. The race will be broadcast live on the FOX network beginning at 4 p.m. EDT. The Taylor brothers won the event in 2015 and 2016 after finishing second in 2014.
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Sources: Laz Denes/True Speed Communication