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Twenty-four hours of racing came down to ten minutes for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R of Wayne Taylor Racing. Ricky Taylor made a move with just three laps of racing remaining to “finish the business” that his father started with Cadillac back in 2000 as the team won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 55th running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona today.
The Cadillac DPi-V.R prototypes were at the top of the timing sheet all through free practice on Thursday. Later that afternoon Joao Barbosa put the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R on the overall race pole, a first for Cadillac in top-level sports car racing and the first for IMSA’s new-era of prototype race cars.
At the 2:30 p.m. ET start yesterday, the Cadillac prototypes were a fixture at the front of the field. The Cadillac DPi-V.Rs’ endurance and agility is credited to the almost two-years of development by Cadillac, Dallara, ECR Engines, Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing.
As the race progressed from early sunshine and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to rain and 45 degrees overnight, the Cadillac teams had to negotiate 52 other race cars on the track and Mother Nature. Just 20-minutes into the race, Ricky Taylor took the lead in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac. Since that time, the Wayne Taylor led team had only a few hiccups during the 24 hours, one for a fire bottle pit lane infraction and a few late on-track miscues. Other than those minor racing incidents, the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R never came to the garage and only needed gas, oil, tires, and a fresh driver.
Meanwhile, the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R team used strategy and speed to get to the back of the No. 10 in the early morning hours. At 10 a.m., Joao Barbosa filled Max Angelelli’s mirrors. As the raced progressed into the last hour the combination of Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque made it a two Cadillac DPi-V.R battle for the coveted Rolex Daytona watches. With 16-minutes left, Ricky Taylor made a run at Albuquerque
into Turn 1. The two had their Cadillac DPi-V.R prototypes touching side panels as they put the power down from the 6.2L V8 Cadillac engine.
With 10-minutes remaining Ricky Taylor drove his Cadillac DPi-V.R to the apex of Turn 1 to make a pass on Albuquerque in the Mustang Sampling Cadillac. Taylor and Albuquerque touched, Abuquerque spun and Taylor went on to win the 55th running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona.
At the finish, the Mustang Sampling Cadillac team of Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque finished second making it a Cadillac DPi-V.R one-two at the World Center of Racing. The second Action Express Racing entry, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R soldiered onto a sixth place finish.
Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president, General Motors, and president, Cadillac Division:
“Victory at the renowned Rolex 24 At Daytona is never easy. To do so in our debut, with a new car dominating the race, is a tribute to the efforts of our engineers, teams and drivers.”
“Cadillac’s return to endurance racing represents a tangible expression of our new product philosophy, in which technology and superlative engineering meet to challenge conventions and end the trade-off between luxury and performance.”
Mark Reuss, executive vice president General Motors – Global Product Development and Purchasing:
“It is hard to bring a brand back into racing. I was just over-the-moon to come down to Daytona for the first time and drive a brand new car, and a brand new chassis. Dallara did a great job with that chassis, and our engines were strong. ECR Engines really hit is out of the park with our new Cadillac 6.2L engine.
“It was one of those historic things. You are witnessing it in a historic place, and you are watching Jeff Gordon get into a prototype for the first time, and you watch him win it with Ricky and Jordan. You watch Max in his last race and watch him win it. Those are times you never forget, and that is what Daytona is all about. That is why this place is so special, because every time we come here for these races, special things happen.
“The battle was good. We had the good and the bad, and this weekend a lot of good. It was stuff we will never forget for the rest of our lives.”
“I was particularly happy for Wayne Taylor and his sons because we’ve come here and run hard and finished second in this race – this is a hard race to win. To come here for the first time, with all the things he has done for Cadillac and now in the DPI class to bring that back with a new manufacturer, he won it through his efforts. I really express my extreme joy and gratitude to him because I know how passionate he is and puts his whole life in it. And now his sons are in the
cars, so to watch them win it for us with our new car. To watch them convincingly win it was great.”
Max Angelelli, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, winner, second time – 2005:
“Wonderful. I was speechless. What is better than this? I finished my career with a big win Jeff and the boys. I want to thank the Taylor family. He said I was the worst teammate, he really means it. This is a really special way to end my driving career.”
Ricky Taylor, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“It is unbelievable, I am still shaking. There are so many different story lines. The unfinished business of the first go around. Starting the season with a win. Cadillac’s fist win. Max has been a part of our family for years. We used to have class with Max the Axe. He would tell us about downforce and over taking. My pass today was just like Max. To win today was really cool. To win it with Jeff is surreal experience. The pass I was working on him we came to GT traffic and they didn’t look to good in Turn1. I thought about doing this for years and years. Drivers tend to release their hands a little in the break there and it opens up.”
Jordan Taylor, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“The past four years – and now five with this year – we’ve had flawless runs. We never went in the garage. We never lost a lap. It’s always been tires-fuel-driver. Thankfully we had another one of those days today. Unfortunately one of our guys who wasn’t with us today was someone had been with us for every one of those races – Adam Banet. He actually left Thursday morning because his wife had their first child. He was watching the race on TV though. It was kind of scary for all of us because he was the guy who wired the entire car. Any little glitch… he was our guy. Lots of people came together for us from some of our other partners. I know I was scared going into it with him not being here and not knowing what all he does for us. He designed the entire wiring loom for all the Cadillacs so it was a big deal. It was kind of sad he wasn’t here but he was definitely a big part of it.”
Wayne Taylor, team owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, winner:
“Max and I drove for Cadillac back in 2000. It ended shortly after with unfinished business. Jeff, Jordan, Ricky and Max finished it for me today. Max and I were teammates for so many years, the worst I ever had. We won the IMSA championship in 2005 and he wins the 24 hour with my kids. Very special. I don’t know how anybody can top this, I really don’t.”
Jeff Gordon, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“This is unbelievable! I haven’t been this emotional for a win and an experience like this for a very long time. The reason is because I know what this means to this team, Wayne [Taylor], these kids [Ricky and Jordan] – Max. Oh my gosh! This is amazing! Daytona has always been special, but this one sent me over the top. I’m just blown away right now. When he told me about the Cadillac program, I was amazed. It is an amazing beautiful car with a lot of technology. To win in that car in a race like this is amazing.”
Filipe Albuquerque, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R second place:
“The last hour, when we put new tires back on it for the last stint, it ran really well. The car was behaving good and I was feeling comfortable. Unfortunately, the safety car just killed us. We were suffering with heat cycling because when the tires cooled off behind the safety car I was sliding more. I could not brake as late as the car can. But, still I was defending. The move he did on me, I don’t think it is fair. I think many people agree with me. The officials don’t agree and they’re the most important guys. But, it’s what it is. He didn’t even wait for me. He just spun me left. That’s what it is. Great job by the team. We hand a puncture. We were always there and the car was amazing. Congrats to Cadillac for the amazing car they gave us. Congrats to them, Action Express, Joao and Christian. I don’t feel like I lost the race. I was just pushed off to lose the race.”
Joao Barbosa, driver, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“It was great work by Action Express to put us in the position to fight for the win until the last few minutes. It’s just a shame it had to be decided the way it was. They could have really risked the result of both Cadillacs. But, the race director didn’t do anything. So, I guess it’s OK. Second place is still a great way to start the Championship.”
Christian Fittipaldi, driver, No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“I’m a little bit speechless right now it went all the way down to the wire. First of all, I want to thank Cadillac for all of the effort that they put into the program. I think, performance-wise, it showed out on the track. All three Caddys were running flawlessly. I want to thank Action Express. [I want] to congratulate the 10 car on their performance throughout the whole race. They were very strong in the wet and very strong in drying conditions. For that, they deserve congratulations. But, was it a clean pass? No, it wasn’t a clean pass. So, what else can I say? Turn the page and move on to the next one.”
Dane Cameron, driver, No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R, sixth place:
“It’s certainly a disappointing day for No. 31 Whelen Cadillac. We were off to a great start the first four or five hours, or more because I went to sleep. It went really well to plan. We were running right up front, led a ton of laps. I think almost every driver in the car got the chance to lead some laps. Everything was going great. The car was running flawlessly. We were just ticking the hours by and then we got caught up in a few unfortunate incidents. We had a few little troubles that snuck up and got us unfortunately. And, that buried us back to sixth. It’s a disappointing way to end such a strong showing at the Rolex 24. Again, we’re starting in a bit of hole for the Championship. But, it certainly has not slowed us down for the last two seasons. So, we should be OK. We had a great, really truly phenomenal debut for Cadillac. I think it’s an exciting season to come in the new DPi category.”
Eric Curran, driver, No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi-V.R:
“Overall, it was a great day for Cadillac. It’s bittersweet really for us. It’s good to see Cadillac 1-2 here today. We had a fast Whelen Engineering car all day long. We just didn’t quite have the
luck today. We had a few little issues on track. And, we had some electrical issues in the pits. It’s too bad. But, hats off to Wayne Taylor and all of their guys. They work hard at it. And, hats off to Cadillac.”
The IMSA WeatherTech Sport Car Championship next heads to Sebring, Florida March 15-18 for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled By Fresh From Florida.