In 2017, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. won five straight races to open the season, ultimately leading to a Prototype driver and team championship. As part of Wayne Taylor Racing, sons Ricky and Jordan Taylor became the winningest drivers in WeatherTech Championship history with 12 wins each. The Taylor brothers were joined with Max Angelelli and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, rounding out a team that was among the best in recent memory.
However, things have drastically changed within the team for the 2018 season, as Jordan Taylor will remain the only returning driver. Angelelli decided to retire on top after a 30-year racing career, while Gordon will return to the broadcasting booth with Fox Sports.
"Kicking off the 2017 IMSA season driving the Cadillac prototype and winning the 24 Hours with Wayne Taylor Racing was such a thrill for me," Gordon said in a press release. "I’m going to enjoy watching the season-ending IMSA event from the booth, and analyzing the racing in this series presents a fun new challenge to me."
The bigger story was Ricky Taylor leaving Wayne Taylor Racing to join Acura Team Penske, where he’ll team up with Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Dane Cameron.
“It was a great experience getting a chance to test an Indy car with Team Penske, but to get a call from Roger Penske offering the opportunity to drive one of his race cars full time….well, that’s a life-changing opportunity,” said Taylor. “We have had a lot of success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship the last few seasons with my dad’s team, including winning both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Championship this year. I’m definitely ready for the next challenge in my career and I couldn’t be more excited to join Team Penske and work with Helio, Juan and Dane to launch the new factory Acura effort and start winning with the ARX-05 in 2018.”
As for the Wayne Taylor Racing team, filling out the new squad will be Renger van der Zande and past IndyCar Series champion and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. Van der Zande comes from Visit Florida Racing where he won in September at Laguna Seca, and was highly sought after by team owner Wayne Taylor. Van der Zande has been very successful, scoring nine wins and 18 podium finishes during the last three years. He’ll now have an opportunity to continue that success on a championship-winning Prototype team.
As far as the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac repeating as Prototype Class champions, a lot will come down to comfort and chemistry within the new team, especially when replacing a family member in Ricky Taylor. To his credit, Van der Zande seems to understand the challenge and relish the opportunity.
“In the last four years, my career went up from a guy trying to make a name in the sport to someone asked to race in the cars of championship-caliber teams," van der Zande said. “I feel very privileged to be in that position. Now, being contacted by Wayne and getting asked to drive for this championship-winning team, that’s the crown for driving all sorts of cars all over the world for so many years. Yes, there will be pressure on the track, and even more by replacing a family member. But pressure is always there -- it doesn’t matter. I’m the type of driver who’s willing to take the risks. Of course, you have to be smart and do it in a clever way, but I’m racing the way I’m racing and I think it’ll fit very nicely."