Local Sports

Taylor Racing wins at Belle Isle

Ricky and Jordan Taylor didn’t have much time to soak in their victory Saturday in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers.

That’s because as soon as the checkered flag flew over the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP in Detroit, the clock started on the brothers’ second race of the day — the race to get to Le Mans, France, in time for Sunday’s testing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The brothers were joined by Spirit of Daytona Racing driver Richard Westbrook, and the ensuing trip made for some entertaining social media.

Despite some traffic and a slow bus driver, the three TUDOR Championship regulars made it to Le Mans on time.

OAK Racing celebrated its first visit to a TUDOR Championship podium at Belle Isle, with Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla placing third in the No. 42 Morgan/Nissan.

Yacaman started the race and gained third on the opening lap before falling back to fourth, which he held for the remainder of his 40-minute stint.

“We’ve had a podium car in every race, but luck hasn’t come our way,” said Yacaman, who won an Indy Lights race at Belle Isle in 2012. “Our next goal now is to win a race.”

Running at Detroit for the first time, Pla was fifth following the driving change with one hour remaining in the race. He quickly made his way to fourth and then passed Joao Barbosa’s No. 5 Corvette DP on the final lap to take third.

Action Express Team Manager Gary Nelson was philosophical after Joao Barbosa cut a tire after his final-lap battle with Ricky Taylor, in which he momentarily took the lead.

“Nine times out of 10 you don’t get a flat tire — you win the race,” Nelson said. “That’s what we do at Action Express. We’re here to do all we can to get to the front and that showed today.”

Jeff Westphal scored his first major sports car victory, teaming with Alessandro Balzan in the GTD-winning No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia.

He finished twice last year, co-driving with Balzan in the GRAND-AM Rolex Series.

“We went into the race knowing that we didn’t have the fastest car in a straight line, and it was going to be a difficult race,” Westphal said. “I’ve come really close with Scuderia Corsa before. Last year we finished second here, but first tastes so much better.”

Starting 12th on the GTD grid, Bryce Miller wasn’t overly optimistic entering Saturday’s race. Yet the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS of Miller and Christopher Haase battled to finish third — giving the team its second consecutive podium finish.

“Christopher just drove a phenomenal race,” said Miller, who worked his way up to sixth during the opening 35 minutes. “It was just an impressive drive and he made it a lot of fun to watch.”