The owner of Wayne Taylor Racing details why IMSA somewhat lacks American drivers
2019 Wayne Taylor Racing drivers for Rolex 24: Jordan Taylor of the United Stated (27), Renger Van Der Zande of Amsterdam (32), Fernando Alonso of Spain (37) and Kamui Kobayashi of Japan (32).
Wayne Taylor Racing are the defending winners of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. For 2019, they have four drivers from four different countries in their cockpit.
“Well, I think if you look in North America now you only really have one sportscar series, which is IMSA. So, there’s not a lot of opportunities for American drivers,” team owner Wayne Taylor explained to the media.
“There’s a ton of European drivers who run in the WEC’s and Japanese series around the world. Because IMSA has done a good job of getting this race to be so competitive, you’ve really got to find the best of the best.”
“As much as I know, we’ve got some really good drivers here in the US who just haven’t had the chance. But, I can’t take the chance on anybody [new] when I’m representing a company like Konica Minolta and Cadillac.”
“I have to have the best of the best. I think without a doubt, I have the best of the best.”
“I’ll tell you one thing, I hate leaving America. So, I don’t ever watch it from the other side.”
“I think it’s become something where F1 drivers and WEC guys have got nothing to do in January. In there’s been so much interest.”
Wayne Taylor on signing Fernando Alonso
Last year, Fernando Alonso made his debut in the IMSA series. He drove for United Autosports and finished 13th with mechanical issues with the brakes.
“Last year at the 24 hour, Zak Brown introduced me to Fernando. Obviously, I knew who he was.”
“A couple of weeks after that I called Zak. I said, ‘Would he be available?’ That took about three months before we could talk about because they were in the middle of their season.”
“All of the sudden, it started coming together. Then, it went away again. There was some issues going on and it looked like I wasn’t going to get Fernando.”
“That was going to be a little disappointing. Then, all of the sudden, I get a text asking if I still had a seat for him.”
“Well, of course, there’s always going to be a seat for him. Very quickly, we made a deal through Zak, McLaren and Fenando.”
Wayne Taylor on signing Kamui Kobayashi
I thought, I’ve got to get a third driver,” Wayne Taylor continued.
“My crew looked through all of WEC to see not only who was the fastest over one lap but over long periods of time.”
“Clearly, the person that was at the top of that was Kamui Kobayashi. I never met him in my life before. Never even seen him before.”
“I suddenly phoned him at around 3 o’clock in the morning. I put the phone down because I thought I was going to wake him up.”
“He calls back!”
“I said, ‘Would you be interested in coming to drive for me next year?’ He says, ‘Yes! What do I do?’ I said, ‘We’ll contact you and discuss contract.’ “
“That happened overnight.”