In this edition of our WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (WTSC) round table we visit the longest track of the year, Road America. We spoke to Ricky Taylor, driver of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, and Ozz Negri, driver of the No.86 Michael Shank Racing w/Curb Agajanian Acura NSX GT3. Here’s what they had to say:
Q: What challenges does a track like Road America present?
R. Taylor: Road America is one of the most challenging tracks we go to from an engineering perspective because we have to make sure we have maximum top speed, while also having good mechanical grip from the car to get through the high speed carousel and hard braking corners. From a drivers perspective the challenge is mainly conserving tires because the surface at road America is very abrasive and eats up tires.
Negri: Road America presents many challenges, it's a fast, fast, fast track and also because of its length, race strategy and pit stops will be a key factor.
Q: What is the tire strategy for a track like Road America?
R. Taylor: This track is extremely hard on tires so having a car that is nice on tires is very important. Most other tracks we can do a stint and a half or maybe even a double, but at road America it is very tough. The only tricky thing might be people taking two or three tires on a stop to make the stop faster.
Negri: The left side tires get abused at Road America, especially at the Carousel. So if the time for refueling during the pit stop matches the tire change time, you can expect to get new tires.
Q: What is your most memorable moment from Road America?
R. Taylor: Unfortunately Road America has been very tough for us in recent years. The only good memory really was being on pole here in 2011 after limited practice with an engine problem.
Negri: My most memorable moments at Road America were finishing on the podium twice with my good friend, John Pew. We finished third in 2012 and then second in 2014. In both races we fought very hard and John had some of his best driving ever.
Q: What can fans expect to see at this year’s Road America race?
R. Taylor: I think this year’s race will be very interesting because of how many strong cars there are and how differently they do the lap time. In addition to that, this track is tough in lapped traffic because getting held up in the high speed portions like the carousel and kink can really bunch up the prototype field and create some wild passes.
Negri: Fans can expect a great close fight in the GTD class. GTD has the most number of cars and its mega competitive so with the championship getting towards the end and with how close it is in the championship points, it's going to be a mega fight.