Nasr knew Taylor wouldn’t make corner in IMSA title-deciding lunge

Felipe Nasr says he knew Ricky Taylor wouldn’t succeed in his IMSA SportsCar Championship title-deciding passing attempt on the final lap of the Petit Le Mans season finale.

Nasr knew Taylor wouldn’t make corner in IMSA title-deciding lunge

The battle for Prototype championship honours came down to a final-stint battle between Nasr's Action Express Racing Cadillac and Taylor in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 that had led the standings coming into the Road Atlanta race.

Whoever ended the race ahead would take away the championship title.

After surrendering the race lead to Harry Tincknell's eventual race-winning Mazda with just over 20 minutes remaining in the 10-hour contest, Nasr came under increasing pressure from Taylor.

The two-time IMSA champion went for an ambitious lunge at Turn 10 on the last lap, but arrived too fast and went across the gravel, allowing Nasr to reclaim second on corner exit to clinch the crown for himself and full-season team-mate Pipo Derani in the car they shared with Mike Conway.

It marked the second IMSA Prototype title in four seasons for ex-Formula 1 racer Nasr, who is leaving AXR ahead of a widely-anticipated move to join Porsche ahead of the German manufacturer’s LMDh effort.

“That was intense,” said Nasr, who previously won the title with Eric Curran in 2018.

“I’m at a loss for words. I have to say we’ve worked hard for this moment – the whole team.

“I’m so proud of everyone from Whelen Engineering for putting in a great drive today.

"Winning the race was possible. I got a little unlucky with traffic [when the Mazda passed] and then I saw the #10 car [Taylor] coming. Why does it have to be so hard?

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi, DPi: Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Mike Conway

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

"Coming down into the final corner, I saw the #10 make a very late move and I knew he wasn’t going to make the corner. So, I just focused on getting the exit and we got the job done.

"I have so much love and respect for the boys that I work with. This will be my final race here, that gives me a lot of emotions too.

“I want to thank Mike, Pipo and every single member of the team. I want to thank Cadillac as well. They gave us everything we needed to fight for this championship. I’m just so happy.”

Derani, who won the IMSA Prototype title for the first time, added: “I just can’t believe we’re champions. It was such a difficult end to last season and a difficult beginning to this year.

"With a lot of belief in God, and in my family, I rebuilt my trust and here I am a 2021 IMSA champion. It’s just incredible.”

Taylor and his team-mate in the #10 WTR entry, Filipe Albuquerque, narrowly missed out on making it three titles in a row for Acura, although the pair and their endurance co-driver Alexander Rossi did come away with Michelin Endurance Cup honours.

“I mean, we’re racing really hard," reflected Taylor.

"The championship literally came down to the last corner. After last year, I’m happy for those guys [AXR]. They deserve it; they had a great year.

"I hate it for Filipe; he drove such a great stint to pass them. I made a little mistake on my out lap [after the last pitstop].

"I’m really bummed, but Daytona is close. This is a short offseason, and we’re a great team.”

shares
comments

Related video

IMSA Petit Le Mans: Mazda wins race, AXR Cadillac takes title
Previous article

IMSA Petit Le Mans: Mazda wins race, AXR Cadillac takes title

Next article

Jarvis signs for full IMSA season in Meyer Shank Acura

Jarvis signs for full IMSA season in Meyer Shank Acura
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The British pair at the heart of Lexus's IMSA push Plus

The British pair at the heart of Lexus's IMSA push

Have you heard the one about two northerners driving for a Japanese manufacturer in America’s top sportscar series? Time to sit down and talk with Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat about racing across the pond… and your accent being mistaken for Australian

IMSA
Mar 16, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Plus

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why two names for the same thing could cloud sportscar racing's new golden era Plus

Why two names for the same thing could cloud sportscar racing's new golden era

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the World Endurance Championship. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Plus

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic Plus

How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic

Helio Castroneves continued his fine start to life with Meyer Shank Racing that netted the 2021 Indianapolis 500 victory by prevailing in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours together with team-mates Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud. As Cadillac fell by the wayside, the Brazilian veteran won out in an all-Acura duel to the finish

IMSA
Feb 1, 2022