Prior to the conclusion of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Wayne Taylor joked that Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s ongoing expansion to a two-car Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class effort for the ’24 season was a handy distraction from the championship battle its drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor were embroiled in.
Now that the season is complete, WTRAndretti is fully consumed with building out the two-car program for the 2024 campaign just two months away.
After joining forces with Michael Andretti’s growing motorsports empire as the calendar turned from 2022 to ’23, WTRAndretti announced plans in May to double its GTP effort in ’24, fielding two hybrid-powered Acura ARX-06 prototypes.
From that moment, WTRAndretti was flat out on two fronts – planning and hiring staff for the next year while contesting the balance of the ‘23 WeatherTech Championship schedule. Despite not winning a race, the No. 10 Acura took the title tilt to the final hour of the season, until Albuquerque came out second best from a clash at Turn 1 of the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with eventual champion Pipo Derani and the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing V-Series.R.
While WTRAndretti left that race disappointed in the outcome of the 2023 campaign, it also departed feeling extremely positive about its future prospects. The team’s 2023 endurance driver, Louis Deletraz, who will partner with Jordan Taylor in the new full-time No. 40 Acura in 2024, earned the Motul Pole Award at Michelin Raceway in the No. 10, and the car was in contention for the race win until the accident with an hour remaining.
Deletraz is one of the hottest young prospects in worldwide sports car racing, winning three consecutive Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) titles in the European Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) competition. It’s a golden opportunity for the highly rated Deletraz to step into a full-time factory prototype ride at the age of 26.
“Having four races this year was the perfect way to get ready for it, and this winter we will be testing and preparing to work with Jordan in the new season,” said Deletraz. “The team is growing each day. We have new people joining from HPD (Honda Performance Development), from WTR as well, and there are new things to learn every day with these cars.
“You can see the challenges of having two cars,” he continued. “You have to have twice as many people. It’s a lot bigger organization, and we also have to work together. There’s no point to having two cars if you can’t get along together and work together to win together. That’s all part of teamwork. We will work all four (full-season drivers) together as one to put one car on the top.”
A Homecoming for Jordan Taylor
Opportunity is also the watchword for Jordan Taylor, who could have easily maintained his lengthy relationship with General Motors and Pratt Miller Motorsports coming out of the reorganization of the Corvette Racing program. Instead, Wayne Taylor’s younger son is returning to the family fold.
Jordan Taylor will be familiar with many faces within the team, but he’ll be readapting to prototype racing in a GTP platform that is much more technically sophisticated than the Daytona Prototype (DP) and Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars he raced from 2013-19. It’s also the first time that Jordan and brother Ricky will not share the same car while under the WTR umbrella.
“I just know there’s a lot to learn,” Jordan Taylor said. “It’s jumping into another competitive class, a class that’s kind of known for all the new electronic bits that are complicated to learn. But that’s the exciting part because I like that new challenge. It’s new tools that a driver can use to hopefully your advantage.”
Jordan Taylor got his first taste of the Acura GTP last week when WTRAndretti tested its two cars at Sebring International Raceway. (Photo posted by Filipe Albuquerque on X)
“It’s nice to have a couple months after Petit Le Mans to start studying that stuff and start talking with the engineers and those guys that are developing that stuff on the tech side,” he said. “Talking with Ricky and Filipe and Louis about what they feel when they turn this knob, what it does technically and what it does from a driver perspective, or what it feels like to get an understanding of all those little details. There’s going to be a lot to understand, but I think it’s a very, very fun part of the new challenge.”
For Wayne Taylor, a champion sports car driver in his own right before he branched into team ownership, the challenge is to orchestrate the sudden expansion of an organization that has grown slowly and organically over the last 25 years.
Taylor revealed that WTRAndretti is aiming to employ some 84 people for its two-car effort in 2024. He marveled at the rapid growth of his team but downplayed the difficulty of effectively doubling the size of the organization.
“I’ve got people who know what they’re doing – I’m just a figurehead!” he joked. “It’s just all about the people, no matter what you do, and we’ve got really good people. Some of them have been with me for 17 or 25 years. We’ve got a good management structure and everybody knows what their job is, so all it means is we’re just doubling up.
“It’s not an easy task,” the Taylor patriarch added, “but certainly being joined with Andretti has helped in terms of resources and stuff.”
That’s been most evident in the team’s addition of endurance drivers for 2024. A pair of Andretti drivers in the IndyCar Series – Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson – will see action in the WTRAndretti GTP cars in 2024. Herta will join Deletraz and Jordan Taylor in the No. 40 Acura for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, with 2009 Formula 1 champion Jenson Button on board for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner Ericsson joins Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor and endurance stalwart Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 Acura for the Rolex 24.
WTRAndretti’s first official appearance as a two-car team will come at an IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway on Dec. 6-7. The 2024 WeatherTech Championship kicks off with the Roar Before the Rolex 24 at Daytona from Jan. 19-21. Rolex 24 race week action runs Jan. 25-28. For ticket information, visit daytonainternationalspeedway.com.