Taylor, Albuquerque Win Acura’s Fifth in a Row at Mid-Ohio!

The intensity of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was clearly evident on a warm spring Sunday afternoon at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Ricky Taylor (No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura DPi) came out best in a tense door-banging clash with the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi driven by Renger van der Zande following a restart after the only full-course caution of the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio.

The clash in Mid-Ohio’s famous Esses just past the halfway point of the 2-hour, 40-minute contest left van der Zande spinning through Turn 6 across the path of eventual second place finisher Tom Blomqvist in the No. 60 Meyer-Shank with Curb Agajanian Acura DPi, while Taylor accelerated away to a lead he would not relinquish.

The son of Konica Minolta Racing team owner Wayne Taylor crossed the finish line 2.098 seconds ahead of Blomqvist to claim his fourth Mid-Ohio victory in the last five years in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class of the WeatherTech Championship.

The Acura ARX-05 DPi prototype is an undefeated five-for-five at a track that Acura and parent company Honda consider a home course. Honda employs more than 16,000 women and men in the state of Ohio.

“It’s amazing to be in Acura’s backyard and Honda’s backyard and there were a lot of associates out here today,” said Taylor, who is a two-time DPi class champion (2017 and ’20). “It’s great to win and represent the brand, because you want to do them justice for how much support they give you.”

IMSA reviewed the contact between van der Zande and Taylor and declared no incident responsibility. Van der Zande and his teammate Sebastien Bourdais, who qualified the No. 01 Cadillac on pole and started the race, were philosophical after finishing fifth.

Blomqvist and teammate Oliver Jarvis were downcast after finishing second to the No. 10 Acura for the second race in a row. “We lost that one,” lamented Jarvis.

“I’m kind of sick of that,” Blomqvist added. “They executed a better race than we did. But looking at the positives, we have a quick car and I think it’s only a matter of time before we win.”

Pipo Derani and Tristan Nunez finished third in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, followed by Alex Lynn and Earl Bamber in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi.

GTD

New Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame inductee Bill Auberlen thought it was too good to be true for the car that crossed the finish line first Sunday to win the GT Daytona (GTD) portion of the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio. It turns out that it was.

The No. 70 inception racing McLaren 720S GT3 had its maiden IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory nullified when the car was found underweight in post-race technical inspection. The No. 70 was moved to the rear of the class finishing order, which advanced Auberlen, Robby Foley and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 to the victory.

The win pushes Auberlen’s all-time record victory total in IMSA’s top-level series to 65, six of those coming at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Foley picked up career win No. 7 as he and Auberlen repeated their Mid-Ohio GTD triumph from 2021.

Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW moved up to second place in the results, with the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 shared by Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz taking third to round out the podium.

Auberlen said this isn’t the first win he’s been handed after the trophies were handed out.

“I think so,” he said, “and I’ve lost a win like this too. I’ve had them come and take the trophies away and I’ve had them give the trophies to me. I’ve already had a call from Bryan Sellers. He’s like, ‘Where’s my second-place trophy?’ I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, I need the first-place trophy!’”

The situation unfolded when Jordan Pepper coaxed 56 laps (six under the only full-course caution of the race) out of the No. 70 McLaren in its final stint on the 2.258-mile 13-turn road course to take the checkered flag first, passing Sellers, Auberlen and five others along the way to move from eighth place to first in the final hour. The No. 96 BMW crossed the line second and the No. 1 BMW third.

A pact made between the two BMW teams kept them close behind the McLaren.

“Bryan Sellers and I made an agreement on the radio – our teams were talking – that we were going to work together to save as much fuel as we could and leave it to about a lap and a half at the end,” Auberlen explained. “That’s how much fuel we would have that we could race at least one lap to try to defend.

“The McLaren caught us too early, so we had to just let him by, and we thought for sure he wasn’t going to make it, no way. Turns out he’s underweight, and we did the best we could. We barely finished with fuel.”

It was early race strategy that put the No. 96 in position to gain the first WeatherTech Championship win for the new BMW M4 GT3. Foley started from fourth position but was called in for an early pit stop to put on new tires and have clear track while the leaders were turning slower laps in traffic on older tires.

On a day when Jan Heylen and Ryan Hardwick brought the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R home a distant ninth in the revised results, the GTD standings have a new leader in Stevan McAleer and the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes, which finished sixth Sunday with co-driver Mike Skeen.

McAleer holds a 12-point advantage over Heylen and Hardwick heading into the next round of the season, the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 4. Foley and Auberlen are 76 points behind McAleer.

Sellers, Snow and the No. 1 BMW retained the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup lead, 34 points ahead of Auberlen, Foley and the No. 96 BMW.