Wayne Taylor Racing Pushes To Rolex 24 Victory

Jeff Gordon, Ricky and Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli shown in victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Jeff Gordon, Ricky and Jordan Taylor and Max Angelelli shown in victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wayne Taylor Racing pushed its way to victory in the closing moments of the 55th running of the Rolex 24, winning the prestigious race by a scant .671 seconds. With Ricky Taylor at the wheel, he fought gamely with leader Filipe Albuquerque as the race neared the finish and bumped his way into the lead with six minutes left enroute to victory.

“To win was really cool,” said Taylor about the ending. “I learned my move from (teammate) Max Angelelli. I had been working on this move for a while. This is the Rolex 24 and you have to take a risk to win it. The way I saw it he had been struggling in turn 1; he saw me coming and was committing, so why did he close the door. I didn’t want to wait until next year.”

The winning car was the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, giving the new Cadillac it’s first-ever Rolex 24 victory, coming in its maiden outing.

The Taylor team completed 659 laps around the 3.56-mile road course.

Cold weather prevailed throughout the grueling race with light, to medium to heavy rain falling for an estimated 14 of the 24 hours. And 20 caution flags slowed the long race.

The winning co-drivers were Ricky and Jordan Taylor, veteran Max Angelelli and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. Except for Angelelli, the others scored their first Rolex 24 win. Angelelli and team owner Wayne Taylor won the race once previously in 2005. Gordon ran with the Taylor team in 2007, finishing third.

In winning, Gordon became fourth driver to win the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 500, sharing the achievement with the legendary drivers A. J. Foyt and Mario Andretti along with Jamie McMurray.

“We had unfinished business to complete and we did it. Max and I won this race in 2005 and today, he won it with my kids, which is very special to me. I don’t think anything can top this,” said an emotional and proud father Wayne Taylor.

“I am so proud to be part of this team,” Gordon said. “I have always dreamed of driving an amazing car that can handle like this. This is very surreal to me, and to have this on my resume is so special, but more than anything this was about building this bond and friendship that I didn’t expect to have. Winning this race is so special to me.”

Said Angelelli, “I am speechless but so happy to end my career like this.”

The finish had a controversial tone with Albuquerque taking the youngest Taylor to task for the bump in turn 1.
Albuquerque and teammates Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi took second place in another Cadillac-powered car, the Mustang Sampling Racing entry.

Said Albuquerque, “I got hit. I had some GTs in front of me and I couldn’t brake so late. The officials made their decision, and that’s the way it is. We finished second.”

Third place went to the local VisitFlorida Racing Multimatic Riley with drivers Marc Goosens, Ranger Van Der Zande and Rene Rast.

Three other classes of cars also put on a great show with two of these finishes garnered at the end.

In the GTLM class one of four Ford GTs from the Ford Chip Ganassi stable won for the legendary car owner, that being the Ford GT that led much of the race with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais winning out by two seconds over a factory Porsche 911 RSR handled by Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner and Frederic Makowiecki.

The victory was the 19th for Ford and the seventh for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Commented Hand, “I had a good feeling about this one, that we could win it. We had a good car and it even ran well in the rain, which was the some of the toughest stuff we have dealt with. We did what we had to do.”

Said Bourdais, “We didn’t do anything wrong and it paid off. Dirk just did at the end. He passed two cars in the final minutes.”

Third went to the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and James Colado.

Alegra Motorsports and its Porsche 911 GT3.R claimed the GTD win with drivers Carlos de Quesada and his son Michael, Michael Christensen, Daniel Morad and Jesse Lazare. The win marked the team’s second Rolex 24 class win.

The PC class win went to the Performance Tech Motorsports team of James French, Kyle Masson, Nicholas Boulle and Patrick O’Ward.

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