2019 12 Hours of Sebring Pre-Race Report
2019 12 Hours of Sebring Pre-Race Report
Seven weeks removed from its second victory in its last three Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance marathons, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team featuring full-time co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and new third driver Matthieu Vaxiviere has a chance to make history at Saturday’s 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, round two of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at legendary Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway.


SEBRING, Florida (March 12, 2019) – Seven weeks removed from its second victory in its last three Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance marathons, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team featuring full-time co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande and new third driver Matthieu Vaxiviere has a chance to make history at Saturday’s 67th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, round two of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at legendary Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway.

Prior to its wet and wild season-opening win on the high banks of Daytona, where Formula One star Fernando Alonso and former Formula One and current FIA World Endurance Championships (WEC) regular Kamui Kobayashi joined Taylor and van der Zande behind the wheel of the sleek, black No. 10 prototype, the team closed out its 2018 campaign last October with a thrilling, last-turn-of-the-last-lap pass by van der Zande that brought home the win at the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

A win this weekend would not only be the team’s second in its last three Sebring 12-hour events, but would make it the first to pull off a unique endurance-racing trifecta. A sweep of North American sportscar racing’s three most iconic events – the Petit Le Mans, Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring – has never been done in back-to-back-to-back fashion. That would be 46 hours of racing events with three wins to show for it.

Two years ago, the team pulled off a sweep of the “36 Hours of Florida” to kick off a remarkable five-race win streak to start the 2017 season that catapulted Taylor and his older brother Ricky Taylor to the championship. The Taylor brothers were joined by veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli and four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon for the Rolex 24 victory, then followed with a dominating Sebring 12-hour win alongside British driver Alex Lynn before sweeping the next three events at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit, and the Streets of Belle Isle circuit in downtown Detroit.

To say this team is streaky might be quite the understatement, and it is certainly looking to benefit from a mountain of momentum when it hits the grueling 3.74-mile, 17-turn Sebring layout this weekend, where it has scored top-two finishes in three of the last four Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring outings. The Taylor brothers and Angelelli broke through with a runner-up finish in 2015 before an electrical issue cut their 2016 Sebring effort short despite the added firepower of fourth driver Rubens Barrichello. The Taylor brothers and Lynn dominated the 2017 event before Jordan Taylor, van der Zande and former IndyCar Series and Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay brought home another runner-up finish last year.

The addition this year of Vaxiviere, a 24-year-old French driver who most recently has made his mark in Europe racing in the WEC and the Blancpain Endurance Series, leaves the team optimistic it can continue its winning ways this weekend. Vaxiviere’s North American racing debut will be all the more noteworthy as, in addition to his duties with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team for Saturday’s 12-hour endurance marathon, he’ll also join the No. 28 TDS Racing LMP2-class entry for Friday’s eight-hour WEC race in that series’ Sebring debut. Likewise, among the 10 IMSA drivers pulling double duty this weekend will be van der Zande, who will join the No. 10 Dragonspeed LMP1-class effort in Friday’s WEC race.

Come Saturday, there will be one focus for Taylor, van der Zande and Vaxiviere as they’ll be looking to make a little history of their own for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team with all eyes of the sportscar racing world on Sebring International Raceway.

Practice for the 67th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Thursday morning with DPi-class qualifying set for 10:45 a.m. EDT Friday. Race time is 10:40 a.m. Saturday with live television set for CNBC from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by two hours on the NBC Sports App from 1 to 3 p.m., and concluding on NBCSN from 3 to 11 p.m. Friday qualifying will be streamed live on IMSA.com and the IMSA Mobile App beginning at 9:45 a.m., with Prototype-class qualifying set for 10:45 a.m. Live timing and scoring during all on-track sessions is available at IMSA.com and via the IMSA smartphone app.


JORDAN TAYLOR, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

How has the long layoff been for you since your second win in three years at Daytona?

“It feels like we’ve had another offseason since we raced at Daytona. I think if we didn’t have a good result at Daytona, it would have been a little too long, but it has been nice to enjoy the success that we had and prepare for Sebring. We had some testing at Sebring in the meantime, as well as some nice time off, so I think everyone is ready to get going again.”

Obviously, it’s much better showing up at Sebring with a Rolex 24 win in your pocket as opposed to the huge points deficit you arrived with last year. Does that change your mindset and that of the team in any way in how you approach the Sebring race?

“I don’t think it changes anything. Everyone wants to win Daytona and everyone wants to win Sebring. Obviously, these races are part of a bigger picture with the championship, but heading into the weekend, the plan is to go for the win. If we find ourselves in a spot where we can’t compete for the win, then we will go into championship mode, but at this point, we want to win another Sebring 12-hour. We won there in 2017 and finished second last year. These endurance races always suit or team’s strengths, so I can’t wait to get started.”

How did the Sebring test go for the team last month? Anything new with this year’s package that will affect how you expect the race to go for the team?

“Our Sebring test was very positive. It was our first test there with the Michelin tire and our first chance to work with Matthieu (Vaxiviere). It was good to get him some time in the car before getting to the track on race weekend. It’s hard to know how we were on pace but, from the driver’s seat, we were very happy with how the car felt and the changes we made throughout the test. Matthieu fit in perfectly with the team. He’s obviously had a lot of success in Europe in this form of racing, so it was nice to get his feedback and new perspective on what he thought about our car and how we were operating. He’s going to be a busy guy over the race weekend, going from car to car, but he has the right mindset for it.”

Talk a little bit about your dad’s induction into the South African Hall of Fame, how that was for you, for you and your brother, for your whole family. Obviously, a life moment for you and the family.

“It was an amazing trip for our family. I think growing up with my dad as a racing driver and then a team owner, you become so used to that lifestyle. You just look at him as your dad, winning these races and championships. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. So for him to be inducted into the South African Hall of Fame, it puts it all into perspective for what he’s been able to do in his life. Not just as a racer, but as a person away from the racetrack, as well. It was a very proud day.”

RENGER VAN DER ZANDE, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

How has the long layoff been for you since your big win at Daytona? Where would that win rank for you in your racing career?

“Winning Daytona definitely something special. It’s one of the biggest sportscar races in the world, like Le Mans. They’re in a class of their own, and winning Daytona is something that will right up there at the top of the list of my racing achievements, and I am proud to have been a part of it with this team and the incredible lineup of drivers that we had.”

Obviously, it’s much better showing up at Sebring with a Rolex 24 win in your pocket as opposed to the huge points deficit you arrived with last year. Does that change your mindset and that of the team in any way in how you approach the Sebring race?

“Sebring is a very difficult race so, no matter the situation you have to give it your maximum effort and have everything go your way if you are going to win it. This team has shown over the years that it knows the winning mindset as far as how to run these long endurance races and how to do them successfully. This year, it will be business as usual, once again. We came close last year after they won it the year before, so I’m hoping we can make to the top step on the podium once again.”

How did the Sebring test go for the team? Anything new with this year’s package that will affect how we could expect the race to go for us?

“I think it was a good test for everybody on the team, very interesting. We ran the Michelin tires there for the first time and I think we will be in good shape as far as that goes. Matthieu got some good time in the car and he’s right there with us as far as pace is concerned so, like Daytona, I think it will be good that all of us will be able to do what the team needs overall to fight for the win this weekend.”

You’re doing double duty by also racing in the WEC race. How do you approach the weekend so you are able to give full attention and full strength to both efforts? How difficult will it be to jump back and forth from one car to another mentally as far as getting top performance on the racetrack in each car?

“I think it’s going to be pretty incredible to have the two top sportscar racing series at the same track on the same weekend, and at such an iconic racetrack like Sebring. It’s going to be busy, for sure, for the drivers doing double duty. It’s really not that difficult to go back and forth between the two cars. The schedule is pretty friendly, as far as that goes. But it will no doubt be an accomplishment, both mentally and physically, and I have definitely been preparing for it as best I can. I’m really looking forward to the challenge and hoping for good results.”

Talk a little bit about Wayne’s induction into the South African Hall of Fame. Any special thoughts?

“It’s definitely cool to drive for a sportscar racing legend. I admire all the things Wayne has done in so many areas – as a family man, as a championship-winning driver, as a championship-winning team owner, as a business man. He knows how to do things right and it’s truly an honor to be working for him and his team. He deserves all the success because he’s definitely worked hard for every bit of it.”

MATTHIEU VAXIVIERE, driver, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

You watched this team win the Rolex 24 at Daytona. How does it feel to be joining Jordan and Renger and the team for another big sportscar race at Sebring, and what do you expect?

“First, it was great for me to discover IMSA races at Daytona and how the team works. It feels great to be joining them at Sebring. It will be a big challenge for me – racing in the USA, with the leading team, at the most difficult track, and I have another race with my WEC team on the same weekend. My expectations are really high with the Konica Minolta Cadillac. This should be normal when you’re racing with the best team and if you are a competitor. But, first all, the team will do its best and we will see what kind of a result we can bring home.”

How did last month’s Sebring test go for you with the team? How was it working with Jordan and Renger, and what do you think about the Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R?

“The test at Sebring went well for me. I adapted to the Cadillac with a couple of runs, and so far all is good. It’s a pleasure to work with the car, the crew and the drivers. My two teammates were really kind with me, helping me to adapt even quicker to the car. We are ready. I enjoyed driving the Cadillac with a different engine than an LMP2 and more things to work with.”

Your thoughts about the Sebring racetrack after the test, and how do you feel about racing on it for 20 hours this weekend?

“I first drove the track in December in the LMP2 and I have mixed feeling for the track. The first few laps, I learned the track and I completely loved it. But, after a couple of runs, I was not a big fan. So I’m a bit torn about how I ultimately feel about the track. Maybe after 20 hour of racing on it for me, I will like it a lot.”

Sebring presents a huge physical challenge for drivers in addition to the mental challenges. How do you prepare and what do you expect during not one but two big races like that? How do you jump back and forth from one car to the other and make sure you are able to give maximum performance to both teams?

“I’ve been preparing in a big way, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Let’s see after both races how I will end up. I will be at maximum for both races. As for the 12-hour race Saturday and how they will turn out, you can never predict what will happen in long races like this, so I really don’t have expectations about how the race will go.”

WAYNE TAYLOR, owner, No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R:

You’re headed to Sebring with a very high-profile Rolex 24 win in your pocket, like two years ago. What are your thoughts about this weekend’s 12-hour endurance marathon?

“It’ll be good to get back to racing again. Quite frankly, we were ready right after the Daytona win, which was truly a special achievement with the incredible driver lineup we had, the tremendous support from our partners, and another flawless effort from everybody on this team. It was great to give everyone the chance to celebrate. In the time since, I had the honor and privilege of being inducted into the South African Hall of Fame, which was the moment of a lifetime for me and my entire family. Truly humbling. Like I said, it’ll be great to get back to racing again on such a high note. Sebring is a very challenging race in its own right, and it’s a track where we’ve done well since we started racing there five years ago. Everything came together for us there two years ago after coming so close before that. And we rebounded from a bad result at Daytona last year with another podium finish at Sebring last year. We’ll have Matthieu Vaxivière driving with Jordan and Renger for the first time and we are really looking forward to keeping the Daytona momentum and our Sebring momentum going with him. We had a good test last month and we’re just looking to do what we know how to do this weekend and hope it all amounts to another win for our drivers, our team and our partners.”

How was the whole experience of being inducted into your native country’s South African Hall of Fame last month?

“It was a little overwhelming. It’s a great honor. To go back to South Africa after decades of racing around the world is probably the highlight of my career. To see the turnout and the level of people who were there at the ceremony, and the questions that were asked, made it very, very special, especially with so much of my family and friends there. It was something that’s going to last a long time for me. Anybody who wants to live a dream and achieve whatever they want, as young as they are, if they just put all the integrity, all the passion, all the vision and all the hard work into it, you can achieve anything in life. In South Africa, I’ve seen such a big change over the years – and it’s such a beautiful country – I believe South Africa is at the level now that it can make such difference around the world. If we can just inspire all the kids to do what we did, they can all do it.”