Ricky Taylor completes Penske/Acura DPi lineup
Recently crowned IMSA Sportscar champion Ricky Taylor will join the Team Penske/Acura sportscar project next season.
Taylor, 28, will partner three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves behind the wheel of the new Acura ARX-05, which is set to make its competition debut at the Daytona 24 Hours in January.
2016 IMSA champion Dane Cameron and former grand prix star Jauan Pablo Montoya were confirmed to share the sister car in August.
Taylor won the IMSA prototype title with brother Jordan in a Cadillac DPi-V.R entered by the family Wayne Taylor Racing team.
The pair dominated the opening five races of the campaign, winning both the Daytona and Sebring endurance classics, before wrapping up the crown at Road Atlanta last weekend.
“Adding a champion sports car driver in Ricky will help our team grow and develop,” said Roger Penske.
“Ricky had a phenomenal season in 2017. He brings a great deal of sportscar experience and his knowledge of the cars, the race tracks and the series overall will be a big benefit to our team."
"Having that experience, along with the winning pedigree of Helio, Juan and Dane, provides a great platform as we launch the Acura Team Penske program next season."
Taylor made first contact with Penske in February, when he tested Simon Pagenaud's IndyCar at Homestead-Miami.
That experience, coupled with his prototype exploits that also featured an LMP2 apperance at Le Mans, helped set the foundations for a full-time drive with the new Acura programme in 2018.
“It was a great experience getting a chance to test an Indy car with Team Penske, but to get a call from Roger Penske offering the opportunity to drive one of his race cars full time – well, that’s a life-changing opportunity,” said Taylor.
“We have had a lot of success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship the last few seasons with my dad’s team, including winning both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Championship this year."
"I’m definitely ready for the next challenge in my career and I couldn’t be more excited to join Team Penske and work with Helio, Juan and Dane to launch the new factory Acura effort and start winning with the ARX-05 in 2018.”
In addition to Taylor's full-season commitment, Penske announced that Pagenaud and fellow IndyCar driver Graham Rahal will join the team for the endurance rounds at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta.
Both are familiar to sportscar competition, with Pagenaud previously racing on the Peugeot LMP1 factory programme, and Rahal winning the Daytona 24 Hours outright in 2011 with Ganassi.
Pagenaud was rumoured to be part of Penske's plans for 2018 after the Frenchman joined Castroneves and Montoya for the team's toe-in-the-water Petit Le Mans entry last weekend.
“I’ve been hoping for the opportunity to work with Team Penske in the endurance races for next year and I’m excited to get the opportunity,” said Pagenaud.
“We had a strong first showing at Petit Le Mans last weekend and I feel like the team is on the right track.
"All of the drivers had some rust to knock off driving these types of cars and the team got a lot of great experience. I love driving sportscars and it makes me a better driver over in IndyCar as well.”
The Acura ARX-05, which is based on the global-spec ORECA 07 LMP2 chassis, has already undertaken several private tests in preparation for its debut early next year.