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Wayne Taylor Racing wins another Rolex 24

by The Associated. Press | February 1, 2021 at 1:56 a.m.
Filipe Albuquerque, of Portugal, drives the Acura DPi to Victory Lane as teammates Alexander Rossi, left, Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves, and team owner Wayne Taylor celebrate after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Wayne Taylor Racing won its record-tying third consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona, using a new car and a new lineup to beat some of the best racers in the world.

Filipe Albuquerque held off Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande -- both part of WTR's winning teams the last two seasons and both seeking to become the first winners of three consecutive Rolex races -- to give the overhauled Taylor team its fourth win in the last five years at Daytona International Speedway.

Albuquerque was challenged over the final 25 minutes by van der Zande, driving a Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing, until the team suffered a second tire failure with seven minutes remaining.

Kobayashi cycled into second but didn't have enough to catch Albuquerque, who closed out the first overall victory for Acura in the prestigious twice-round-the-clock endurance race.

WTR left General Motors after 28 years at the end of last season to become a factory Acura program, and the team needed every minute of the last two months to get its car ready for Daytona. Wayne Taylor replaced his entire lineup for the move to Acura and hired Albuquerque, as well as his oldest son, Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi. The trio all drove the Acura the last three seasons for Team Penske but needed new jobs when Penske closed at the end of last year.

Ricky Taylor and Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, are the reigning International Motor Sports Association champions and had the familiarity with the Acura to ensure the team was prepared despite no offseason testing.

It was WTR's fourth Rolex win in five years and fifth overall, one behind Ganassi's record six victories. The three consecutive wins tie Ganassi's mark.

It's the first Rolex for Castroneves and Rossi. Albuquerque won in 2018 driving a Cadillac and Ricky Taylor won in a Cadillac for his father's team in 2017.

Ricky Taylor, who closed out the 2017 Rolex win for WTR, was in the car late and had the option to finish the race but decided to turn it over to Albuquerque because the Portuguese driver was rested and could tackle track conditions that included increased wind speeds.

"We decided we wanted somebody as fresh as possible in the car," Ricky Taylor said. "He got in there and was an absolute monster and carried it at the end."

Jordan Taylor, youngest son of the winning team owner, was also a winner in the GT Le Mans class and closed the victory for Corvette Racing. The lineup included Nicky Catsburg and Antonio Garcia, who General Motors said after the race it had pulled from the car because Garcia tested positive for COVID-19 as part of his preparations to leave the United States. Garcia drove nearly eight hours in the race and was last in the car Sunday morning.

The BMW entry that included former Little Rock resident John Edwards as driver finished third in the class.

The Konica Minolta racing team, from left to right, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi, team owner Wayne Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor celebrate with the championship trophy after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The Konica Minolta racing team, from left to right, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi, team owner Wayne Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor celebrate with the championship trophy after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The Konica Minolta racing team, from left to right, Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
The Konica Minolta racing team, from left to right, Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Helio Castroneves waves the checkered flag after he and driving teammates Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Alexander Rossi won the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Helio Castroneves waves the checkered flag after he and driving teammates Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Alexander Rossi won the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Team owner Wayne Taylor, right, hugs his son Ricky after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Team owner Wayne Taylor, right, hugs his son Ricky after winning the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Filipe Albuquerque crosses the finish line in his Acura DPi to win the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Filipe Albuquerque crosses the finish line in his Acura DPi to win the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Filipe Albuquerque drives his Acura DPi out pit road to the track after his last pit stop in the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Filipe Albuquerque drives his Acura DPi out pit road to the track after his last pit stop in the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Kamu Kobayashi, of Japan, drives the Ally Racing Cadillac DPi during the final laps of the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Kamu Kobayashi, of Japan, drives the Ally Racing Cadillac DPi during the final laps of the Rolex 24 hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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