WTR Andretti motors back to IMSA victory lane in Detroit

On a tight street course where passing was considered to be at an absolute premium, Ricky Taylor proved it was possible in scooting past Mathieu Jaminet to deliver not only the first victory for the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06 of the season, but the first GTP victory for Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque. For the team that had gone without a win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since 2022, claiming the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in the first IMSA race on the downtown Detroit street circuit was an emotional occasion.

Meanwhile AO Racing’s Sebastian Priaulx and Laurin Heinrich scored their second-consecutive victory thanks in large part to every car that made it to the front of GTD PRO having an issue, starting with alternator trouble for the polesitting No. 3 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Z06 GT3.R, Antonio Garcia pulling the car into the pits for a lengthy stop right after the race start.

No surprise for a tight, 1.654-mile, nine-turn street circuit, the 100-minute race was marked by a surfeit of contact and full-course cautions, five in total, including one with a full track blockage after Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R hit and spun Richard Westbrook in the No. 85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 int he tight Turn 1. Many of the incidents affected frontrunners in both GTP and GTD, either as victims or perpetrators.


Starting fourth, Albuquerque made the first move toward the front at the green flag, getting a “buy one, get one free” as he described it by passing both Dane Cameron in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963, who was slowed getting passed by Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, and then getting by Bourdais as well. But in the early stages of the race, he had nothing for Nick Tandy in the No. 6 PPM 963.

“We were happy about this weekend,” said Albuquerque. “We had more pace than in the past, in other races, so we knew we could do well. But to be honest, after what’s been happening to us, we need to be humble and we’ve got to start somewhere, so a podium would be good for us. But in the end of the day, we are racers, we go where it takes us and whatever the opportunity takes. The start was a good example of that.”

Albuquerque was gifted the lead a short time later, but Taylor would have to get it back with his pass. Although the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963 had started on the pole courtesy of Tandy, the fact that Jaminet had the lead to lose was nothing short of remarkable and the result of a stroke of luck. Tandy had made contact with Daniel Serra in the No. 35 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 under braking for Turn 3 and spun the Ferrari. Determined to have responsibility for the incident, the No. 6 received a drive-through penalty, handing the lead to Albuquerque.

Dropped through the field, Tandy stayed out long after most of the GTP field pitted, most of which started as soon as the window to make it to the end of the race on fuel opened. Having cycled to the lead, he put in quick laps at the front. Pitting with just over an hour left, PPM was blessed with a massive gift — a full course caution for the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8 stopped on the Jefferson Ave. straight. That allowed Mathieu Jaminet to emerge from the stop in the lead, also helped by the fact that the Porsche needed less fuel to make it to the end.

It looked like Jaminet had what he needed to keep the point, but shortly after the penultimate restart, Taylor clearly had something for him. With Taylor sticking to the back of the Porsche, Jaminet seemed to let his guard down as the pair passed a GT car on the Jefferson Ave. straight. Taylor saw his opportunity and took it, diving to the inside and taking the line away from the Porsche on the entry to Turn 3.

“The Porsche was really strong on short runs on restarts,” explained Taylor. “So the longer it went, we could kind of claw our way back. The Acura guys and the whole team has made a really strong car in the braking and that was really where we’re able to do it. I think had it not been for that one GT car, if we’d had all those restarts after and the way the race went, that was probably my last shot to get him and I’m really relieved that that we took advantage of it because it was still quite a long ways to go. You would have thought there would have been more opportunities, but with how good they were on restarts, I don’t think I would have had another chance.”

Jaminet made no attempt to hide his disappointment with finishing second in a race that he believed the team should have won.

“I caught traffic at the wrong spot, Turn 1 and Turn 2, that gave him a shot and I underestimated how close he was,” Jaminet said “We were struggling a little bit on the brakes and it seemed to be their strength, so he used the opportunity and [Taylor] did a good move and kind of made it stop. Congrats to them. From my side, yeah, not happy with myself because this is definitely not one of my my best drives today. So something that will work on for the for the future that this doesn’t happen again.”

Bourdais and Renger van der Zande, winners in Long Beach, finished fourth in the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R. The No. 7 PPM 963 was fifth with Cameron and Felipe Nasr fifth in the No. 7 PPM 963, making a recovery drive after Nasr suffered a tire puncture and had to make a second call to the pits.

Cameron and Nasr extended their points lead in the GTP standings, holding 1669 points to 1599 for Bourdais and van der Zande, now in second after a tough weekend for the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing squad of Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken, who finished sixth and fell from second to fourth in the points. Jaminet and Tandy sit third with 1586 points.

The AO Racing Porsche came away with the GTD PRO win. Brett Farmer/Lumen

Like the GTP-winning Acura squad, Priaulx and Heinrich started fourth with the No. 777 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, Rexy sporting a new gold tooth after the team’s win at Laguna Seca last month. However, starting with the problem for Garcia, cars in front of them struck trouble.

That include a two-for-one incident that almost cost AO the race and left them to survive to the end with a broken splitter. Heinrich was pursuing the leading pair of Nicky Catsburg in the No. 4 Corvette Z06 GT3.R and Ben Barnicoat in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F GT3 when the two came to blows in Turn 3. Barnicoat dove inside the Corvette while Catsburg tried to close the door and the two cars made contact, the Corvette ending up backwards.

Heinrich had tried to go to the outside as the two combatants had moved toward the inside, but ended nosing into the Corvette.

“The Lexus and the Corvette they were going for it into the hairpin and I saw that, so I wanted to put myself in the best position I could be – A, to stay safe and, B, to capitalize on it,” explained Heinrich of the incident. “They got caught up in an incident and me being on the outside of a really sharp turn. Unfortunately, I hit the spun Corvette. It’s the characteristics of street circuit; there’s not much space to avoid.

“You had a hit, but you don’t know how the car looks from the outside. So immediately went on the radio asking how does it look on the TV images? How did the car look when I passed? At first glance it looked quite OK. But once I came back to the to the backstraight, the splitter was going up and down and touching the floor. It was horrendous inside the car at the end of the race. I couldn’t see any more, it was vibrating that bad. I could adapt quite well – we have some tools in the car with the TC, brake bias, ABS to to help this understeer which which will happen if you have splitter damage. I adapted my driving style quite well, and I think we didn’t have to compromise so much pace,” he continued.

Heinrich got away first to take the lead, pursued by Barnicoat. The Lexus hung with the Porsche for a while, despite missing the majority of the nose of the car and occasionally shedding bits of carbon fiber, but eventually faded from the fight, leaving Heinrich to drive unimpeded to the checker.

“I couldn’t be prouder of everyone on the team and just how they’ve been working this year,” said Priaulx. “It’s just amazing that we’ve had two wins with these pro guys and factory teams. We’re just a single-car team and I’m just sort of gobsmacked that we’re winning these races. And Laurin here … my teammate is actually awesome, did a mega job to get the car home with this damage that we had. He just wanted to get it round to be honest. So super proud of the guys.”

Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth ended up second place at the checker, followed by Alex Riberas in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo he took over from Ross Gunn.

Riberas was involved in an incident of his own that left the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports McLaren 720 S GT3 Evo in the tires in Turn 3 in the closing minutes of the race. Until that point, it looked like Marvin Kirchofer was poised to claim the first GTD PRO podium for McLaren.

Parker Thompson and Frankie Montecalvo, making a guest appearance in GTD PRO for Vasser Sullivan Racing in the absence of GTD, finished fourth in the No. 15 Lexus RC F. Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow were fifth in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3.

With their second victory of the season, Priaulx and Heinrich bolstered their points lead, their 1359 points 84 ahead of Barnicoat and Hawksworth. Gunn, who ran Laguna Seca without regular co-driver Riberas due to a WEC conflict, sits third at 1192. Sellers and Snow are fourth, while Catsburg and Milner are fifth ahead of teammates Garcia and Alexander Sims.


Story originally appeared on Racer