Detroit breakthrough brings a ‘huge sense of relief’ for WTRAndretti

Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque have been racing partners for four years, and have achieved much during that time. And there’s no denying the winning history of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti in its various guises over the years — championships, Rolex 24 At Daytona victories, Sebring wins … Wayne Taylor is one of the most successful owners in IMSA’s recent history.

There’s also no denying that 2023 was a rough year for the team. Running a single Acura ARX-06 in the first year of the new GTP formula, WTRAndretti suffered a rare winless year, although there was still a chance for a championship heading into Motul Petit Le Mans. Until the team won at Sebring with the second car it added for 2024 with Jordan Taylor, Louis Delétraz and Colton Herta, the most recent victory was at Road America in 2022. That was the last win for Ricky Taylor and Albuquerque.

Until Saturday. And not only did they win, they won it in WTR style, with a ballsy pass for the lead, courtesy of Ricky. Albuquerque had put the No. 10 in position with a fantastic start, and Ricky Taylor sealed the victory despite the apparent overwhelming strength of Porsche Penske Motorsport.


Winning the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on the streets of downtown Detroit — and, no, the irony of Acura winning in Detroit while Cadillac took the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach this year was not lost on them — ended a 21-month drought for Taylor and Albuquerque. That meant something.

“Filipe and I have been together for … this our fourth year,” said Ricky following the Detroit victory. “We’ve had a lot of success together and the 10 car was on a roll for our first three years together. We’ve had a really rough last year and a half. Really struggling, haven’t had a win in a long, long time, and it seemed like nothing could go our way. I think first of all everybody at [Honda Racing Corporation], Wayne Taylor Racing Andretti worked really hard to kind of put us back in the game. Street courses were not our thing. This year we haven’t been fighting really for wins outside of Sebring, and they turned it around here.

“We had we had performance in qualifying — it looked like Filipe and Jordan [Taylor] could have been fighting for a top three very easily. And then at the start of the race, starting from fourth on such a tight track, it’s so difficult to pass we thought a podium would be a bit of a win.”

This is a team and driver pairing that has gone into the finale solidly in the championship fight for the last three years, to the point that finishing a single position ahead of its championship rival would have garnered a title. And for three years they’ve missed that target. But race victories were always on the table, and always a check in the achievement column until last year. But not standing on the top step of the podium didn’t break them; it only made them more determined.

“It’s almost like in a family when you are struggling… in a family when something goes wrong, you just get more united,” said Albuquerque. “Head down; be more humble. Look at details and try to motivate each other on the bad days. So many times we would deserve to win, but things were not coming our way. Just comforting each other — never lose that faith, sticking even more together and knowing that the tables will turn and it’s just around the corner. We just never stopped believing it and I think that’s what happened.”

Albuquerque is no stranger to winning races. And while this one wasn’t one of the “big ones,” it definitely meant something, to the point that it nearly brought him to tears.

“I think this moment just made our team, our Konica Minolta 10 car just stronger. I nearly cried. I mean, it’s just a race … but it felt like almost like winning the 24 hours of Le Mans or Daytona, just because it’s so special. We’ve been suffering so much … I’m not saying unfair but it’s sometimes like we would deserve definitely some wins, but things didn’t come our way. But today came to our side and I’m just super happy that it’s out of the way and now I think it’s the relief of going forward.”

Albuquerque (left) and Ricky Taylor had to wait a long time for this one… Brett Farmer/Motorsport Images

The gap between victories shouldn’t have been that big. Long Beach in 2023 should have gone their way, but a slight miscue during the single pit stop and driver change scuttled their chances. The team learned from its mistakes and made some changes. On Saturday, the single pit stop in the 100-minute race went perfectly.

“The guys nailed the pit stop with the driver change … the driver changes aren’t about the drivers – we can only mess it up – they nailed the pitstop and all the little details went well,” explained Taylor. “Filipe had an amazing start. Without any little detail of that happening the way it did, we don’t win the race. All the tiny decisions on the systems — the set up throughout the weekend understanding all of our practice without IndyCar rubber, and how it evolved…. I can name 100 things that led to the way that the car was and what led to us getting the win.”

Those are the details that make the difference between winning or being runner-up or missing the podium entirely. And finally the No. 10 notched a victory in GTP.

“It’s a huge sense of relief. Every weekend we keep saying we just need to put it together and it’s little details at this level where it separates wins from from being off the podium,” Taylor said. “One thing we can say is we’ve always done our best we’ve never sort of given up and motivation kept increasing, like it doesn’t go down when you stop winning — it keeps going up and we wanted to win more than ever coming in here.”

Story originally appeared on Racer