Dixon Revved Up For New Season

Crew shown preparing the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Crew shown preparing the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

DAYTONA BEACH – After a seemingly long off-season, Scott Dixon can’t wait to shake off the cobwebs and he plans to do just that at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona, the prestigious opening round of IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. For the Rolex 24, the IndyCar champion has joined an international cast of drivers for Wayne Taylor Racing’s championship team.

Taylor’s team will once again field the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in the 24-hour event, a race it has won in convincing fashion twice in the last three years.

In addition to Dixon, who has been in the winner’s circle twice previously, the team’s driving duties will be shared with 2019 winning drivers Renger van der Zande (Netherlands) and Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) and 2018 class winner Ryan Briscoe (Australia).

“This race is important as it kicks off the new year,” Dixon said. “My passion for sports car racing started in 1999 and in 2004 when I started here. History is important to me and this race is one of the top-five in the world, which includes the Indy 500, the 12-Hours of Sebring and the 24-Hours of LeMans. For me, it is pure enjoyment and I love doing it and trying to win this race.”

Taylor welcomed Dixon with open arms. “Scott is very laid-back, which is what you need for endurance racing. He’s never out of control and always asks the right questions. And you know he’s not going to go off the road,” Taylor commented.

While Dixon is focused on the Rolex 24, his attention will change after the race to his primary job – the NTT IndyCar Series and the season opener in St. Petersburg in March. At the time Dixon and his fellow competitors will be adapting to the new windscreen. “It will create new challenges, particularly on the ovals,” Dixon noted. “Many will be experiencing it for the first time during an open test at COTA (Austin, Texas) in February.”

Dixon has tested it already and doesn’t see any major problems since every driver will be in the learning mode. Heat and visibility seem to be the two hurdles to the new innovation. “The big key to me is the joint venture that has going on for a couple of years with Red Bull Technologies for the F1 car. They have done a lot of the testing and flushed out the problems. With IndyCar and Red Bull working together, it made for a seamless integration of what we needed.

“Yes, there were some cooling issues to start with but they were resolved quickly. Heat doesn’t seem to be a factor now, but the difference will come when we get to Mid-Ohio in the hot summer months. The cooling addition to our helmet helps, too.”

Regarding visibility, Dixon said. “It has been really good. Depth perception on the peripheral side may take a bit to get used to on the street courses with the concrete walls and everything being so close.”

Overall, he thought the windscreen may add up to 60 pounds to the car, which will affect handling and cause tires to degrade quicker.

Regardless of the challenges that may arise, the safety factors are more than worth it.

For the 2020 season, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi team has added a third driver, Marcus Ericsson. “Marcus seems like a really nice guy, the same as Felix (Rosenqvist). I’ve known Felix for 5 or 6 years and he’s not only a nice person but he’s extremely fast. Also, he’s got a lot of technical intuition, plus his experience with other formulas has brought in a lot of fresh air.”

First things first, Dixon is committed to being ready for the Rolex 24 and his team’s quest to win the prestigious race. After that, his attention will be directed to the NTT IndyCar season.

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