IMSA Crowns WeatherTech Champions

0
252
IMSA
Jordan and Ricky Taylor were officially crowned the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype class champions on Monday night. (IMSA Photo)

BRASELTON, Ga. – Champions across the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship came together Monday night to be recognized for their achievements and to celebrate the conclusion of a thrilling 2017 season.

Held at the Chateau Élan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Georgia, drivers, teams and manufacturers received awards for their performances throughout the year. The four class champions received new TUDOR watches to honor their titles.

Receiving awards for their championships in the twelve segments at the series’ four endurance events were the four Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup champions.

Those races include the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans.

FOX Sports personalities Justin Bell and Brian Till hosted the proceedings, which began with a one-hour reception, followed by a two-hour presentation ceremony, before ending with a lively after-party featuring live music from The Business.

“Of course, the four teams, drivers and manufacturers that we honor as class champions earned that right through near flawless execution and extraordinary performances against fierce competition on and off the racetrack,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton as he opened the ceremony. “I’m fortunate to be among the first to offer my congratulations here this evening. To our champions: Well done, all of you.”

In the Prototype class, brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor as part of their father’s team, Wayne Taylor Racing, dominated the first half of the season in their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. to take home the Prototype driver and team championship. After winning five straight races to open the season, the Taylors are now the winningest drivers in WeatherTech Championship history with 12 victories apiece.

“This is something that obviously our family has been around my whole life, and I built it up in my mind what it’s going to be like,” said Ricky Taylor. “This is obviously a dream come true. I never would’ve imagined that I’d get to share this experience with my family and such a great group of guys and great group of partners we all have here tonight. I’m just really going to soak this in. It’s nice we’ve got another three months until Daytona to enjoy being the champions.”

One of the highlights of the evening was when Wayne Taylor came out on stage to receive his team owner’s award. He was wearing his trademark blue glasses and before his interview started Till reached into his suit pocket to produce his own pair of blue sun glasses. The crowd laughed and then enjoyed an emotional speech from Taylor about his family and their life in racing.

Cadillac also took home the Prototype and Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer championships with additional wins from each of the two Action Express Racing teams. Those teams were the No. 31 Whelen Engineering team of Dane Cameron and Eric Curran and the No. 5 Mustang Sampling team of full-time drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa with Filipe Albuquerque who won the Patrón Endurance Cup team and driver championships.

Performance Tech Motorsports came just shy of winning everything the Prototype Challenge (PC) class had to offer in 2017. The team won seven of eight races, while James French took home seven TOTAL Pole Awards and co-driver Patricio O’Ward posted the fastest lap at each event. Performance Tech, French, O’Ward and endurance driver Kyle Masson received the following awards – the Patrón Endurance Cup driver and team championships in PC’s final year of WeatherTech Championship competition.

In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, Chevrolet and Corvette Racing outlasted intense competition to bring home all three class championships. In what many consider to be the closest GT racing in the world, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R duo of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen recorded a top-five finish in every race this season, including three victories. These championships were the second consecutive for the manufacturer and team.