Bookending the 2019 season with another win to go with its victorious opening effort at the Rolex 24 At Daytona is one goal for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R duo of Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, along with added third endurance driver Matthieu Vaxivière, at this weekend’s Petit Le Mans at newly named Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Another goal for the two-time and defending Petit Le Mans race winners will be clinching their first-ever Michelin Endurance Cup championship-within-a-championship where teams score points based on their performance during key time intervals at the season’s four iconic endurance events – Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, and Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans.
So, not only will where in the field the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R’s takes the checkered flag be of utmost importance, so will its track position Saturday at the race’s four- and eight-hour marks. The team arrives at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course with a two-point advantage over the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Endurance Cup standings. Nine points back in third is the No. 55 Team Joest Mazda while the twin Team Penske Acuras are tied for fourth, 11 points back.
If the team is successful in replicating its dramatic, last-lap victory in last year’s Petit Le Mans, in which van der Zande chased down Filipe Albuquerque of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and passed him for the lead just two turns from the checkered flag, the Endurance Cup will be a forgone conclusion. A win Saturday night would also enable the team to go from sixth to fourth in the season-long championship, leapfrogging the Team Joest Mazdas who are currently tied for fourth in the standings, just one point ahead of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Last we saw in North America of Vaxivière, the 24-year-old French driver who competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, he helped orchestrate the team’s solid runner-up finish at this year’s Sebring round in mid-March alongside Taylor and van der Zande that made the team an early favorite to win its second season-long championship in three years.
While those overall championship hopes eventually left the team’s grasp, a fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen the last weekend of June kept its Endurance Cup title hopes very much alive.
Saturday’s race, the team’s milestone 150th since it came to be prior to the 2007 season, offers more than its fair share of motivation. And, for what it’s worth, when the team celebrated its 100th race at the 2014 Petit Le Mans, it ended in most fitting fashion as Taylor, his older brother Ricky Taylor and veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli powered their way to the its first-ever victory in the iconic event. Safe to say, the team is poised to pull out all the stops to try and ensure the season finale is yet another memorable one.
Practice for the Petit Le Mans begins Thursday with DPi-class qualifying set for 4:45 p.m. EDT Friday with live streaming video at IMSA.tv and the IMSA mobile app beginning at 3:45 p.m. The green flag for Saturday’s 10-hour race flies at 12:05 p.m. with live television beginning on NBC at noon. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and the IMSA mobile app.