The 2017’s 24 Hours of Daytona will always be remembered for the moment when Ricky Taylor took out Filipe Albuquerque from the track, and from the victory. However, it would be unfair if the race were only remembered for this incident.
First of all, it marks the beginning of a new era, with changes in regulations that aim to bring the Dpi closer to the LMP2. This change, by itself, led to the emergence of a whole new generation of prototypes where the Cadillac Dpi V.R stood out. Although with rain, the Multimatic / Riley has shown that this wasn´t the end of the story by New Yorker company.
As we all know, these prototypes are young and lack development; So the superiority of Cadillac does not mean that in the future things will stay that way. It shows only that it started better in the first race (with about 2 seconds difference between the best times performed with dry track).
New brands, Accura, Lexus and Mercedes, decided to be present in the competition in the GTD class, and they did it with significant performances.
The Accura, by the hand of Michael Shank (Michael Shank Racing), was the one that surprised us the most. Assuming the fight for the command of the race after eight hours of racing, it even had the two cars in the top three when rain came. Accura remained in the fight until the last hour of the race when the nº93 of Lally, Legge, Wilkins and Rahal, suffered an accident and gave up. It is worth noting the importance of this accident in the end of the race, because it is due to the situation of FCY from it that the Cadillac Dpi V.R No. 10 of Waine Taylor Racing, catch up with the Cadillac Dpi V.R No. 5 of Action Express.
Another aspect to highlight was the fight for the top four in the GTLM class, with an epic finish in which the top four, Ford GT, Porsche 911, Ferrari 488 and Corvette C7.R, finished separated by less than 5 seconds.
An IMSA commentator highlighted the rain as one of the most influential factors in the race, yet not a decisive one. The weather conditions played an important role, making it clear that in a race situation with rain everything is more balanced, losing the Cadillac all the advantage they have when the track is dry.
The rain also gave rise to what could have been the big strategic mistake of the race when six hours later, Wayne Taylor’s team opted, contrary to their opponents, to keep tires dry. This decision forced the Cadillac Dpi V.R No. 10 to stop a few laps later, even losing a lap to the top two.
Let’s talk about the Albuquerque vs. Taylor’s in its two aspects : 1º The hit of Ricky Taylor’s car in Filipe Albuquerque’s; 2º The decision of the race direction.
To Ricky Taylor’s position that the responsibility of the incident should be shared with Filipe Albuquerque, we counter what the regulation says when stating that the driver who follows in the front has priority in the choice of trajectory. However as João Barbosa commented, these are situations that happen often in race. According to João it would be good if the pilot who gave rise to the incident waited for the opponent. However we all know that reality is not so and that beyond the sporting ethic there are other interests involved.
On the other hand, we have the decision of the race direction . The director of the event has access to data that amateurs, journalists or members of a team do not have. What I find not so clear in this process was the speed of decision. As far as I know the decision does not have to be taken at the moment, the direction of the race would have time to analyze and ponder the choice, so why settle in such a short time?
About this subjet, Christian Fittipaldi said in the IMSA interview:
“Beau in the briefing was very clear about if you generate a problem or if you generate contact, you will probably be penalized for it”.
We asked to the Portuguese expert and journalist Ricardo Grilo to give us his opinion about this subject:
“Ricky Tailor is 27 years old, he was certainly very excited with the fight for the triumph and tried the impossible by putting the car in the small opening that Filipe Albuquerque left, even though he knew that he was going to give a hit (to the adversary’s car). But as Tailor did also a lot of races he should know that in case of contact in a curve like that, who is outside will lose the balance, especially when the hit is given next to the rear wheel of the opponent Cadillac.
On the other hand, even with facts that we may not have, the direction of the race surprised me by the quick response saying that there would be no penalty, because according to Christian Fittipaldi, in the briefing with the race director, he had warned the drivers that they should be careful with the hits, as these would be worth a probable penalty — as has sometimes happened in recent years to João Barbosa, even by hits much more inconsequent than this. Deciding like they did , they influenced the outcome of the race, and I am not sure if they have been totally fair. ”