IMSA’s Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class recedes in style as the WeatherTech flagship class stage one of the most compelling title competitions in all of motorsports this year.
This is a statement based on quality, not quantity, because there are only two title contenders: the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 shared by Ricky Taylor and Felipe Albuquerque, and the similar No. 60 Acura by Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian led by Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis . Team Taylor heads to the 25th Annual Motul Petit Le Mans next weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with a 19-point lead over Meyer Shank, and in the absence of an extraordinary qualifying result, the top-ranked Acura at the end of the 10-hour competition will shut out. Even the crown of the season.
What made this race between the two horses so intense was the nature of the points-chasing back and forth. After Team 10’s win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on May 1, Acuras came to a standstill at the top of the standings. They’ve swapped out the championship lead after every race since, taking radically different paths in the process.
Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi join Bloomqvist and Jarvis to win the inaugural Rolex 24 of the season at Daytona International Speedway. But since then, the 60th seed has not had a win while the 10th seed has added wins at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car track, Watkins Glen International and Rhode America to his first victory in 2022 at Laguna Seca.
The strong 60 point was consistency, with six consecutive podium finishes, including four frustrated riders. By contrast, the ten record includes one more podium finish (second place at Daytona) and a pair of sixth place finishers. All this adds up to the unbridled scramble for the championship.
The Ten has a slightly better qualifying record, with three poles to two and a nine-point advantage – but 60 often seems to be faster than the Acuras on race day. However, the Ten often won those battles within the manufacturer on the right track – often after tense wheel-to-wheel battles.
For Blomqvist and Jarvis, the frustration of losing to the No. 10 in races they felt should have been won – sometimes heartbreakingly – is tempered by the fact that they are one of only two in the championship competition. They continually ran up front, and more often than not, they should feel like the breaks would definitely flip their path.
Of course, if this year’s point-swap trend continues after every 10 car race in the Atlanta Road, 60 will prevail…
“I feel like we were ahead most of the time, but when they had the opportunity, they took it, and a lot of the time it hurt like hell,” Blomqvist admits. “Most of the time we were leading the race and they were outperforming us. Maybe if some things weren’t done the way they did we would be in a different situation now in this championship. But everything went the way it did so we just have to deal with it in Road Atlanta.
“There is more at stake, but at the end of the day we just have to do the best we can and beat the other guys. Obviously we’ve been trying all year to do that. We just have to make sure our preparations are the best we can, and we leave no stone unturned. We flip it. If we go to this event thinking we have to do better than we did at every other event, we won’t do well enough all year. So the approach can’t change all that much. But it’s going to be great and it’s going to be fun. I’m excited. and excited.”
The competition on the track between 10 and 60 has been surprisingly intense this year’s times, given the manufacturers’ shared affiliation. But Jarvis noted that the drivers did an excellent job of policing themselves to avoid unnecessary clashes that would hurt Acura’s overall effort.
“I think we behaved really well between the two cars,” he notes. “I think HPD (Honda Performance Development) is probably in a good position, because I understand the champ will be us or the 10 car. So, they will be winners regardless. As long as we maintain the respect we have all year long, I see no reason for them to participate. It was a tough fight all year and there were close calls, but it was always fair and respectful.
“There is no easy way to win this championship. The way the points work, it always goes down to the last race. It’s tough, and that means who’s going to win it, whether it’s us or the car ten, you have to take your hat off to them, because it’s not just one race, it’s A whole year’s work, of performing at the top of their game.”
DPi produced an incredibly compelling final championship fight that IMSA and both feuding organizations can be proud of.
“We didn’t get (the points) on the lead in an easy way,” Taylor says. “We had to fight for every point. Felipe was very strong at the end of these races and the way we got the points lead is by fighting and pushing hard.
“All respect to the Car 60. They have been such consistent players who have had a really solid season. They have raced an amazing season. We always try to race as cleanly as possible, and it has been a really respectable year among Acuras. I think it tells us a lot about the brand and management that it allowed We raced hard. We pushed each other to 1-2 in the championship where we can now fight for it between us. That says a lot about both teams.”
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