Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli inched closer to the Daytona Prototype championship Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as the Wayne Taylor Racing duo scored a dominant win in the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival.
The penultimate round of the Rolex Sports Car Series offered up plenty of on-track action, but it was a battle in the pit lane that got the No. 10 Velocity Worldwide-sponsored Corvette DP out front early.
Quick pit work put the second-generation racer out front ahead of the pole-sitting No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of brother Ricky on lap 22. However, as the Coyote-chassied machine faded with grip issues, Jordan Taylor came to life, leading a race-high 72 laps and en route to a 2.692-second victory.
“Once we made the strategy call on the first stop and once we were out front, the car was unbelievable,” Jordan Taylor said. “You could see by the gap we were able to pull and maintain that through traffic and everything.
“When I pulled a gap, I was just trying to maintain it and save the tires and save a little bit of fuel because we knew if a yellow came out, it would just be a restart and everybody would be starting from zero. Once we made the final stop, I knew we were in a pretty good position.”
Taylor held off a late charge by the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-BMW of Scott Dixon, who relinquished second place to his championship-contending teammate Scott Pruett on the penultimate lap.
The No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty finished fourth, while the No. 4 8Star Motorsports crew of Sebastien Bourdais and Emilio DiGuida celebrated their first top-five finish after gambling on fuel.
It was a race to forget for two title contenders.
The No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Riley-BMW of Ryan Dalziel and Alex Popow suffered gearbox issues and a pair of penalties, relegating the once championship-leading pair to a 13th place finish.
Christian Fittipaldi’s title quest was also deflated when co-driver Joao Barbosa slammed their No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP into the pit wall while pitting from the lead. The duo had to settle for a 7th place finish.
The bad luck and misfortune for some padded Taylor and Angelelli’s championship lead, now 8 points heading into the season finale at Lime Rock Park. But as the 22-year-old points out, anything can happen.
“Eight points sounds like a lot, but you saw with the 2 car and the 5 car today that a lot can happen,” Taylor said. “I almost hit a GT car, which could have taken us out of the race. Little random events happen, so I think we’ll go into it trying to do what we do and see where we come out.”
It was also a championship-defining day in the GT ranks, as Magnus Racing scored its first class win of the season and regained the points lead.
A gutsy call to stretch the fuel on the No. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Andy Lally was rewarded with victory for he and co-driver John Potter. Lally, who led the final 26 laps, finished less than one-second ahead of the No. 93 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 of Billy Johnson and Michael Marsal, who scored a season-high second, while also gambling on fuel.
Two late-race yellows played into both cars’ advantages.
“The last yellow, I had my heart in my throat,” Lally said. “I knew we were going to be close. [Engineer Lars Giersing] played out a great strategy. We really didn’t have the pace on these guys. We went [with the] yellow map pretty much from the get-go. I had to drive a little wide and hold a couple of guys back when we were on that map. But we were able to go a few more laps than everybody else.
“When it got down to it at the end there, I was actually hoping it had stayed green. Lars wasn’t sure we were going to make it or not. But when the last yellow came, it was kind of a blessing but I also knew they would be coming for us. We had four manufacturers between the Corvette, the BMW, the Audi and the Ferrari coming. We were able to hold them off, get a good restart and bring it home.”
It not only marked Magnus’ first win of the year but also the first for Porsche in the production-based ranks. Lally and Potter now sit 8 points ahead of Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan, who salvaged a 5th place result after getting hit by the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette of Eric Curran late in the running.
Curran and Boris Said completed the podium in third, while the No. 73 Magnus Racing Porsche of Patrick Long and Patrick Lindsey came home fourth in class.
Mazda scored its eighth consecutive victory in GX, with the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda6 of Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long edging out the Spencer Pumpelly and Dr. Jim Norman-driven No. 38 BGB Motorsports Porsche Cayman by less than 5 seconds.
The No. 11 SDR Lotus Evora GX, making its series debut, completed the podium after early-race transmission problems for the pole-sitting No. 00 Visit Florida Racing Mazda, which came home in a distant fourth.