Wayne Taylor Racing announced their 2021 driver lineup on Monday afternoon and the lineup features some familiar faces.
Ricky Taylor, son of Wayne Taylor (Team Owner), moves back over to his dad’s team after recently competing with Team Penske in the Acura this season. Taylor competing for Wayne Taylor Racing will be the first time in three years since he last made the start for the team which came in 2017. That season, the Apopka, Florida native obtained five wins (Daytona Rolex 24, 12 Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Austin and Bell Isle), achieved seven podiums and averaged a finish of 3.2 with 803 laps led.
“I have a lot of history with Wayne Taylor Racing,” said Ricky Taylor who has 24 wins, 57 podiums and 28 pole positions in his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship career. “I grew up with the team and they helped develop me as a driver. It was a very difficult decision to leave the team in 2017 and join Acura Team Penske but I was able to grow more. It’s always great to go somewhere and bring value to the team, so now that I feel like when I return, I can do that. Alex, Helio and I have a lot of experience with the Arura ARX-05 and I know the team really well, it’s literally family. The addition of Filipe Albuquerque who is a world-class driver and has a lot of experience driving for big manufacturers and winning of the biggest races in the world. I think we have a very strong line-up.”
In addition to the lineup, 45-year-old veteran Helio Castroneves also comes to the team for the first time in his career. The move marks the first time in quite some time that Castroneves will compete for someone other than Penske. Despite losing his ride with Team Penske after Acura pulled support, Castroneves maintains with the Acura family.
“To be part of the WTR super team with a great group of drivers is like we are continuing what we left off from last year,” said Helio Castroneves who hopes to add a Rolex 24 at DAYTONA victory to his acclaimed resume. “Working with Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi and Filipe Albuquerque is just a great way to start 2021. Looking forward to working and racing with this organization with eyes on the Rolex 24 win, something they know very well.”
For the 2020 season, the Brazilian earned four race victories with those wins coming at Road America, the 2 hour and 40 minute Road Atlanta event back in the summer, Mid-Ohio, the 10 Hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October, and most recently at Laguna Seca. Castroneves shared the championship with Taylor after finishing eighth in the Daytona Prototype Class in the season finale at Sebring this past month.
Two other additions to the team include full-time NTT IndyCar Series driver Alexander Rossi and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Filipe Albuquerque. Rossi only competed in three events this past season, mainly focusing on endurance races duties which came at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 10 Hours of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta and finishing the season at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
“It’s a great honor to not only drive for WTR next year but also to continue to race the Acura DPi for the three endurance races,” said Alexander Rossi who has two podiums in his five IWSC races. “On top of that, to be able to stay united with Ricky and Helio will be a huge benefit to all as we make this transition. I look forward to working with Felipe for the first time and I am excited to get to work right away in January, and hopefully, we can bring home a Daytona win for HPD.”
Meanwhile, Albuquerque has made on and off starts throughout the last couple of years in his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar career. The Portugal driver collected one podium this year in the 2 hours and 40 minutes race at Road Atlanta.
“I am really really happy with this new project,” commented Albuquerque with six victories and 19 podiums in IWSC. “Wayne Taylor Racing is one of the best teams at IMSA, they are always at the top at every event. My motivation couldn’t be higher. Regarding my teammates, I think it’s hard to have picked better ones. I fought them in the past and now they are my teammates, it takes away a lot of pressure. WTR could not have chosen better. Between us all, we have won everything: IMSA, Daytona, Le Mans, ELMS, WEC, Indy500.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series looks to begin their 2021 season with the annual 24 Hours of Daytona, which is slated to begin Saturday, Jan. 30. However, there will be a “Roar before the 24 test” as well just a couple of weeks before on Friday, Jan. 22.