Wayne Taylor was noticeably emotional atop the pit box as Kamui Kobayashi guided his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R across the start/finish line to the overall win the Rolex 24 At Daytona – the second straight for Wayne Taylor Racing and the fourth total for the team.
And the first without one of Taylor’s sons in the driver rotation.
Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande filled out the Cadillac’s lineup with Ricky Taylor racing for class rival Acura Team Penske and Jordan Taylor making the move to the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with Corvette Racing this season.
“I can’t explain it,” Wayne Taylor exclaimed when asked what the win meant to him.
The team became the first to repeat as overall Rolex 24 winners since Chip Ganassi Racing won three straight Rolex 24s between 2006 and 2008. Dixon was part of the winning lineup for that 2006 victory, which was his first in the twice-around-the-clock.
“When they come into this little team of ours, they are just so focused, and so passionate about winning,” Taylor added. “And unfortunately, we are really bad losers. So, when we win like this…I have got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, van der Zande. Kobayashi – I mean, the guy is a superstar.”
Only van der Zande and Kobayashi returned from the race-winning effort the year before, which also included two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso and Jordan Taylor.
Kobayashi was as effusive as Taylor in his praise for the team.
“We worked together to build the car,” he said. “We focused in the race, we came back from the Roar, we found something good so we bring it back for race weekend. And once we rolled out, it was fast. This win is all about people helping each other, bringing the speed, bringing the car together. I think the team really felt like family.
Following the mid-way point in the race, it appeared to be clear sailing for the reigning race winners as they led at the hour mark for the next six hours. But Briscoe’s final turn in the car proved to be a true test for the team.
“That was a roller coaster,” he said.
After taking over for van der Zande in the 18th hour, Briscoe faced mechanical issues that caused a loss in power steering as he navigated the bus stop. He was able to pull to the apron, recycle the electronics and avoid pitting to stay in the lead.
But while pitting from the lead under caution at just over 18 and a half hours into the race, Briscoe missed the red light on pit road upon exiting his pit box, landing the team a stop plus 60 seconds penalty.
That put the No. 10 a lap down when Loic Duval in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi overtook Briscoe as he was leaving pit road after serving the penalty. Briscoe was relegated fourth place overall with just over five hours remaining in the race.
Briscoe said the proximity of the team’s pit box to the red light on pit road contributed to the miscue.
“I actually left the pit box and we’re right down at the end there, so the red light is over to the left as soon as I pull out of my pit box,” he said after finishing his final stint. “And when I pulled out, I was actually checking my mirrors to see where the competition was.
“It’s my bad, I just didn’t see it.
“Thankfully, we had a couple yellows fall our way, we were able to get back on the lead lap and just go to work.”
It was Briscoe who regained the lead from Mustang Sampling, with Joao Barbosa behind the wheel, just minutes after the clock turned to 20 hours completed. And other than a brief trading of the lead during final pit stops, the team never looked back as they drove to a dominating win.
Although the pole-sitting team of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi held the lead after the opening two hours of the race, they didn’t lead at an hour mark after the eighth. And, ultimately, couldn’t break the streak of Rolex 24 wins by the Cadillacs since the start of the DPi era (2017) as they finished second.
Barbosa, Duval and Sebastian Bourdais were the other main challengers in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, finishing third in the race.
The race was a record-breaker. The previous lap record of 808 (set in 2018) was bettered by 25 laps for a total of 833 laps and 2,965.48 miles.