WTR, which has won three of the last four editions of the Rolex 24, has this year switched from the Cadillac DPi-V.R to Acura’s ARX-05, which won the last two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship titles with Team Penske.
WTR’s single-car entry will be raced full-time by reigning champion Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque this year, with IndyCar ace Alexander Rossi joining them for the four Michelin Endurance Cup rounds, and Helio Castroneves – who shared the 2020 championship with R. Taylor – as fourth man for the Rolex 24.
As the 2020 season only finished in mid-November, due to a much-delayed Sebring 12 Hours, Taylor said this put his team on the back foot for 2021, describing its schedule as: “Chaos, complete chaos.
“First of all, we’ve run at Sebring for a day, then we’re going to the ROAR, then we’re going to have a [qualifying] race. Then we’ll come back and have a 24-hour race. We really got lucky that [IMSA] changed the ROAR from the beginning of January to the weekend before the 24 Hours because we’d never have been ready.
“When we received the two cars after Sebring, they’d been driven until the end of their lives, there was nothing basically on the car that could be used. So, we ordered two new cars, and at the same time rebuilt an existing car with new components, then we built another new car. We didn’t go and test, because we needed the time, and the guys have literally been working 24/7 – they are really, really tired – and we tested at Sebring [on Tuesday] with just one slight little issue, not really a problem. It’s hats off to all the guys for doing such a great job.”
Taylor says his revamped driver lineup, which includes the return of his son Ricky from the IMSA-exiting Penske squad, helps the team get a better understanding as it switches to the Acura.
“This is the hardest race to prepare for and we have to learn the car,” said Taylor Sr. “Between Alexander, Helio and Ricky – having been in the car for three years – they’re actually teaching us some stuff that we haven’t learned yet.
“Filipe is lapping it all up, and he’s really easy to work with, so the big job is now up to the team to execute. And this is critical. But one thing I can say for sure is that we have the right driver lineup, 100 percent.”
Taylor also believes the switch to Acura, which will see it pool knowledge with fellow ARX-05 runner Meyer Shank Racing, will be an advantage at Daytona.
“When we were racing with Cadillac, it’s like we were racing against each other,” he said. “Now that’s out of the equation, the Cadillacs can go away and fight with themselves, and hopefully we can come along on the outside and blow everybody away.
“The support from HPD is like nothing I’ve experienced in the past – just really good.”