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Team Insight: Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti

22 3月 2024

The name Wayne Taylor really needs no introduction if you know your IMSA scene. The charismatic, ultra-competitive and no-nonsense South African has been a staple of American motorsport since founding his eponymous team two decades ago.

A five-time IMSA champion, winner of the Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and a class winner at Le Mans, there’s isn’t much Taylor doesn’t know about success, and his team’s association with Lamborghini Squadra Corse is no different.

Wayne Taylor with Andretti has been competing in the one-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America championship since 2014 and has amassed race victories and titles across the four classes in the intervening years, most recently taking back-to-back crowns with Danny Formal and Kyle Marcelli in 2022 and 2023.

WTRAndretti and Lamborghini is, therefore, a tried and tested recipe which has subsequently expanded into the GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“Travis and I built a relationship with Lamborghini a long time ago, even before Super Trofeo started in North America,” explains Taylor.
“I got flown out to Pebble Beach to meet some people from Lamborghini and we were talking about a GTP programme, and that’s how that relationship started, and that’s where we got into the Super Trofeo. And now it’s growing.”

One of the reasons WTRAndretti has managed to hit it off so well with Squadra Corse is the team ethos and culture, which Taylor and his team manager of the Super Trofeo and GTD operations Travis Houge, believe are built out of the same mould.

“We’ve been pretty close since we started off in Super Trofeo in 2014/2015, and since we’ve moved into GTD that relationship has only gotten stronger,” says Taylor.
“We have Lamborghini employees with us at every race, we have our guys at the shop communicating with them daily. And what makes it even more effective is that the feel and the working environment of WTRAndretti and Lamborghini Squadra Corse are very similar which is what makes it a pretty successful partnership so far.”

Houge adds: “Each programme has their own group but it’s all the same team, so all of our staff can work on everything if needed. So, we can divide and conquer.
“Our technical director helps across both cars, we have technical director who works on the GTP side and another one who works on the GT side, which is overseeing GTD and Super Trofeo. And then we have a layer of team management, and it just trickles down from there.”

Like a lot of Super Trofeo teams these days, the expansion into GT3 was the natural next step for WTRAndretti. The rationale was simple: using what they had as foundations in Super Trofeo provided a clear pathway to the top echelons of GT racing in the United States, for both team and drivers.

“There are a lot of similarities which are topped off with a bunch of differences, between the Super Trofeo and the GT3,” says Houge.
“As WTR, and our relationship with Lamborghini has grown, we have kind of developed the Super Trofeo first and then the GTD car, and we built both teams identically. The difference is, with Super Trofeo you have shorter races, and the car is probably a little more difficult to drive because you don’t have all the tools, but it is a good learning car to get everybody into GTD.
“In GTD, it’s the top category so there’s a lot more engineering, it’s a lot more R&D work, it’s a lot more driver fitness and all those things because we got to 24 Hour races and 12 Hour races. So, when we started in 2014 and 2015, we asked ourselves: ‘how do we make the jump from Super Trofeo to GTD but do it in the right way?’.
“We’d used drivers who had come through Lamborghini, we’d use drivers who had just started, and [18-year-old] Graham Doyle (who is contesting the full IMSA Endurance Cup season after a single season of car racing to his name) is a prime example of someone who has started in Lamborghini and has come up to GTD, so this proves how the two series and cars merge together.”

How that is done on the track is aided by the class structure of Lamborghini Super Trofeo and the spec-series regulations which allow for drivers to learn their trade in identical machinery, making sure they – and not the car – makes all the difference in the end.

For someone like Doyle, whose father and grandfather raced alongside Taylor

“One of the things you can’t teach is the commitment, because for someone to go from Trofeo to GTD is really demanding for someone like Graham,” continues Houge.
“Going from Super Trofeo sessions to IMSA session, having the pro drivers alongside him in the team is a big benefit. Guys like Danny Formal and Kyle Marcelli, who have a lot of experience and know what it takes to compete at the top level of IMSA, having them in the team and leading by example makes a big difference.”
“There isn’t a whole lot we can do mechanically with the Super Trofeo, but the key is attention to detail, the smaller things we have done over the years.
“The way we operate is essentially that we have a workhorse car, that we use for all of our setup, that does everything for us so that gives Graham and other drivers plenty of seat time, and as we work on the car, we can move those and teach them things like: ‘here’s what we changed on the car, can you feel the difference?’. Because that’s what we need Graham to be doing in the GTD in the future.”

Such has been the success of WTRAndretti in recent years, the opening round of the 2024 Super Trofeo North America season at Sebring last week did not quite hit the same heights of their double title successes prior.

Formal remains in the #1 Huracán as he goes in search of a third consecutive crown but is joined by Ryan Norman, who moves sideways in the team from a solo entry. The pair recorded a third and fourth place finish in the two races to sit third in the Pro standings.

It’s something of a transition start to the campaign for WTRAndretti, which is embracing the task of juggling three programmes (GTP, GTD and Super Trofeo) this year.

“There are a lot of logistics to get here, and the trick is to build the team around people who can do the job. If I can do my job right, everyone else makes me and Wayne look good,” says Houge.
“All in all, we had nine transporters at Sebring, we had 100 people working between everything, so the continuity between all three of our programmes makes everything work the best it can. Sebring was the first time we had all of our awnings, we had five of them and a lot of moving pieces.”

With a full IMSA season (Sprint and Endurance Cup) plus Super Trofeo North America with six cars, WTRAndretti is certainly keeping busy within the Lamborghini Squadra Corse. And knowing the man himself, more success is surely right around the corner.

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