Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti (WTRAndretti) debuted as a two-car factory team with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 and the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06 and came up on podium after a tough 24-hour battle.
The 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opened the season with the sportscar classic: the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti (WTRAndretti) debuted as a two-car factory team with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 and the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06.
In their debut as the second entry for WTRAndretti, the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06 fought tooth and nail to throughout the 24-hour event. As the veteran inside the GTP driver’s seat for the No. 40, Louis Delétraz handled the opening of the stints after qualifying fifth on the grid. With multiple cautions in the early hours, strategy quickly became quite important. About two hours in his stint, Delétraz and the No. 40 team were able cycle to the lead of the race through pit stops and strategy calls. Handing the controls over to Colton Herta, the INDYCAR driver had the goal to try to stay within the range of the GTP as best as possible. During Herta’s stint, the team had to make an unanticipated pit stop that sent the No. 40 to the rear of the GTP field and laps down, but with a long caution period shortly allowed for the team to regain their laps. Trading places with Herta, Jordan Taylor climbed inside the No. 40 for his first laps at the Rolex back in a prototype car. As cautions continued to happen, strategy remained key, and Taylor kept the No. 40 within range of the top five contenders of GTP. Following Taylor’s stint, Formula One Champion Jenson Button took over inside the No. 40 for the first time behind of the wheel of the Acura ARX-06 GTP in his first Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Staying clear of any trouble, the No. 40 DEX Imaging team entered the crucial hours of the 24-hour event: the overnight stint. As Delétraz was cruising through the night, the team had to bring the car back to the garage to check out an issue after Delétraz stopped abruptly on track. Thankfully, the WTRAndretti team was able to work quickly to solve the issue and send Delétraz back out on track only one lap down from the leaders. With the luck of some cautions throughout the early morning hours, the No. 40 team was about to get back on the lead lap. Herta again took over from Delétraz and suddenly the red and black No. 40 DEX Imaging machine seemed to come alive, running as high as second throughout those early morning hours. Continuing to hold within the top six of the GTP class, Jordan Taylor, Herta and Delétraz traded spots at the control of the No. 40 as the clock wound down. For the final “sprint race” portion of the 2024 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Delétraz held steady behind the wheel with the GTP leaders in sight to ultimately finish third on the podium.
Ricky Taylor took the green flag from sixth position in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 where he quickly maneuvered to first position after a strategic pit stop and a slew of cautions in the first two hours of the race. The No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura continued to find its rhythm with Brendon Hartley at the wheel as the sun set before passing off to Filipe Albuquerque around six hours into the marque event. The Portuguese driver ran consistently strong in third position before an unfortunate mechanical issue caused the car to stop on track. While the WTRAndretti crew worked as swiftly as possible to fix the issue in the garages, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 was too many laps down to contend for the win and spent the remainder of the race running to gain points for the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by finishing in ninth position.
Following the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the WTRAndretti next heads to another lengthy endurance event, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 16, 2024. Full-time drivers of Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque will be joined again by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 and Jordan Taylor and Louis Delétraz will have Colton Herta back in the cockpit of the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06 for 12 hours of intense racing at Sebring International Raceway.
Wayne Taylor, Team Principal, WTRAndretti: “This was an extremely difficult event to come to. I don’t know if I told anyone how worried I was because in a new two-car team and new mechanics, new engineers, and new drivers and then everything that happened. They changed our car for the race weekend. We knew we didn’t have a car that could run with the Cadillacs or the BMWs or the Porsches. We said that if we execute properly and the drivers do a good job and don’t make any mistakes, we could maybe get a podium. And then we had really bad lunch with the No. 10 car and unfortunately, they had to pull out. It’s just getting the No. 40 car on the podium is a big deal. So, we are really happy. Thank you to all our partners for always continuing to support us, Konica Minolta, DEX Imaging, Acura, HRC, Harrison Contracting and Gainbridge. Really looking forward to switching focus to Sebring.”
Louis Delétraz: “I think we should be very happy of the result as a team. These last ten days have not been easy. Acura, HRC and the whole WTRAndretti team have been working amazingly. We made the most of the situation. The No. 31 and the No. 7 were obviously faster than us. We never gave up. We lost a few laps, and we always came back and gave them a fight to the last minute. It is great. I am very grateful to everyone’s hard work, and it is great to start a championship with strong points. We are looking at an overall win at the end of the year and hopefully a few racing victories along the way for the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06 team.”
Jordan Taylor: “If you would have told us we were on the podium at the start of the Roar or even the start of this week, we would have been extremely happy. So, we can leave here happy with a good points day, but obviously you want to leave the Rolex with a new watch. We overcame a lot of adversity throughout the week with an overall lack of pace, but the entire WTRAndretti team did an amazing job and the drivers executed in the race, no real mistakes, strategy was perfect, and the No. 40 DEX Imaging guys built us a perfect Acura. We had one little technical glitch in the middle of the night but went only one lap down and got it right back in order to stay in the hunt the whole race. We can be pretty happy with this when we look back at the whole championship when we are at Petit Le Mans and say we had a good points day when it counted.”
Colton Herta: “It is a great start for the year. It is an incredible opportunity for me to be able to come to this race and drive an amazing race car. I am very grateful and very happy to have had the opportunity to be able to do this. WTRAndretti and the No. 40 DEX Imaging Acura ARX-06 team did an amazing job preparing the car and the race strategy We definitely punched above our weight limit and came up with a podium. I am happy with this weekend.”
Jenson Button: “Wow, that was an experience! I have done a few endurance races before but nothing like this. When there are 60 cars on track and the banking, it is like a game of chicken at 200 mph. A lot of fun and feel so privilege to do it with these guys at Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti. They all did such an amazing job. I am such a small part of this. It was a great experience and fair play to the whole team. Congrats to them for getting a podium. We didn’t have the pace for a win here but with WTRAndretti you always know they are going to get the maximum out of the car. And they did just that this weekend. Congratulations to the whole Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti organization.”