Lexington, OH – Jim Taggart marked his best ever Pirelli World Challenge finish with a second place run in perhaps one of the most unique races to unfold in his sports car driving career. A day later, the Porsche 911 GT3R of Taggart Autosport backed it up with a third place result at the tricky Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Qualifying put Taggart fourth on the GT-A grid in his first Pirelli World Challenge event since St. Petersburg in March. At the wheel of the No. 7 Porsche during the race, Taggart was watching the cloud get darker as the entire field was on slick Pirelli tires.
Then the skies opened – literally – a deluge of water came down turning the track into a river. With advanced traction control and a spotter in driver coach Tom Long, Taggart was among a brave few who were able to make up positions in the rain on dry tires before the race ultimately ended under a red flag for standing water.
“Saturday’s race was crazy,” said Taggart, who is originally from Ohio and considered the event his home race.
“The race started dry then light rain started to fall. Tom Long was in the stands near china beach spotting for me. That turned out to be a life saver. On the first lap of rain, the leaders started to slow down, but Tom gave me the ‘go faster command’ knowing the track was still dry at that particular portion. Then the next lap the rain turned into a deluge. Still on slicks, I slowed down, but Tom warned me, sternly, to slow down even more. Cars were going off the track like crazy. I had the Porsche in first gear crawling, slipping and sliding all over.”
The race would go full-course caution before a red flag brought it to an end, but the pass that put Taggart into second happened in the rain, when he was able to sneak past a Lamborghini in turn one.
“It was so slick with the track surface and the rain, along with deep puddles, I was even concerned about making it up some of the hills at Mid-Ohio,” Taggart added, with the driver later celebrating at a make-shift podium out of the rain in the track’s media compound.
A day later, Taggart would start fourth on the GT-A grid, behind a similar Porsche, along with a Viper, Lamborghini and Audi. Proving his second-place rain run was not a fluke, Taggart drove a heads up race and brought the Porsche home third – making it two trips to the podium and his two-best ever World Challenge finishes in a deep field at a tricky race track.
TV: The Mid-Ohio rounds air on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, August 10 at 1:30 p.m. (re-air Saturday, Aug. 16 at 12 a.m.) (all times listed are eastern.)