Corvette Racing Faces Big Challenge at Road Atlanta This Weekend
• Second event of 2020 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for Corvette Racing
• Program remains first and second in GTLM Drivers Championship
• Garcia, Taylor enter on two-race win streak
• Corvette Racing with eight class victories at Petit Le Mans
• Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta site of C8.R’s first public laps in 2019
In a normal season, Corvette Racing would be preparing for Petit Le Mans and the finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. But this is 2020 after all, so this season has been anything but normal. That means for the first time since 2009,Corvette Racing returns to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with the annual 10-hour Petit Le Mans not serving as its final IMSA event.
We say ‘returns’ because it’s the third time since early September that Corvette Racing and its pair of mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs have been at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn facility. It finished second in GT Le Mans (GTLM) category of the TireRack.com Grand Prix on Sept. 5 and then tested at the track two weeks ago. It served two purposes: validate engineering and Chevrolet simulator findings from the September race and give its two endurance drivers for Petit Le Mans some much-needed track time in the Corvettes.
As they have for most of the season, teammates Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor hold the GTLM points lead, as does Chevrolet in the Manufacturers standings. So far through eight rounds, Garcia and Taylor have won five times in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, including the last two races at Mid-Ohio and Charlotte. Nicky Catsburg will rejoin them at Petit Le Mans for his first race with the team since January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.
In the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner will look to finish one position higher than their runner-up class finish in September’s race. Gavin and Milner sit second in GTLM points and will be reunited with Marcel Fässler.
The test day at Road Atlanta was especially valuable for Catsburg and Fässler, who last drove the Corvette C8.R during a February test at Sebring International Raceway. They also will drive the Corvettes at the season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in November.
Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is one of Corvette Racing’s most successful stops on its annual racing calendar. The program has 10 victories to its credit at the circuit with eight coming in Petit Le Mans.Corvette Racing won for the first time at Road Atlanta 20 years ago with a thrilling, late-race pass by Andy Pilgrim.
There has been plenty of success in recent years although victory has eluded Corvette Racing in that span. At least one Corvette has finished on the GTLM podium in five of the last six races.
Petit Le Mans also was the site of the Corvette C8.Rs first public laps ahead of the 2019 race. The mid-engine C8.R is based on the strong foundation of the 2020 Corvette Stingray with both developed simultaneously. There is a deeper level of technology transfer between the race car and production Corvette than ever before, which helps contribute to many of its advancements. As a result, the C8.R shares the highest percentage of parts between the production and race car than any previous generation.
Initial design and development on the Corvette C8.R – with Corvette Racing engineers working alongside Corvette production personnel – began more than five years ago with track testing starting within the last 18 months. Heavy emphasis on wind tunnel and simulation aided in the testing program.
Petit Le Mans is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 17 with live television coverage on NBCSN from 12:30-6:30 p.m., and 9:30-11 p.m. ET. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will offer live streaming of the full race. In addition, IMSA Radio will broadcast the race on IMSA.com, which also will host live timing and scoring. The race also will air on XM channel 202 and SiriusXM Online 972.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:“There were a ton of things we learned from the race at Road Atlanta in September. There was a lot of tire degradation that we found, and I think it hit most of the cars. That’s one thing that really changed from years past. So we will need to monitor that. In this race, being consistent and not running into any problems or issues gives you an advantage over the rest of the field. It will be colder for sure and we will run into the night. Because of that, there are a lot of things we need to be proactive toward and make good progress ahead of the race. Finishing in the hotness of the day in September wasn’t very easy. Going into the night will be easier on the equipment although we will be in a long race.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:“Petit Le Mans is always one of the highlights of the year and one everyone wants to win. Understanding the tires is the biggest part of this race. It’s one of the toughest tracks we go to in terms of high G-loads. Since we aren’t going to Watkins Glen or Canadian Tire Motorsport Park this year, this is probably the highest-load track we go to. Understanding what tire to use and how to manage it will be important. The conditions will be different than when we were there for the Six Hours. It was good to do that race. From a reliability standpoint, understanding what curbs we can hit without damaging the car is always important for a 10-hour race. It was good preparation.”
NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:“The track is not the longest one but it’s super-nice with its change in elevation. It’s a very American track, and by that I mean there is no runoff and every mistake will be punished. Obviously the race will run into the dark, so you have that added element where it’s difficult to see. I’ve only done the race once, and it was difficult in the dark. It will not be easy for me to come back and easily adjust to the car. But it’s good we had the test a couple of weeks ago to help prepare. I’ve been watching Corvette Racing from home and they are really strong and fighting for the championship. Let’s not jinx it but it seems like a very strong first year for the C8.R. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “The Six Hours in Atlanta was really a great dress rehearsal for Petit Le Mans. We gathered a large amount of data from that race, and you get to see how you stack up against everyone else. The encouraging thing for Tommy and I is that we came away with a very strong second place. If a couple of other things had fallen our way, then we could have very easily come home with a victory. We now know what we have ahead of us for Petit Le Mans. We know where our car is strong, where our competition is strong and where they are weaker, where we can pass people… we have some things we need to tidy up, and the recent test was very positive and we came away with a few things. Since the end of the lockdown, we’ve kept finding setups, working through the car and areas where we can maximize things to make the C8.R a drivable, raceable sports car. I’m confident we’ll have a very strong car there.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:“It’s nice to have the Six Hours under our belts before coming back to Petit Le Mans. We definitely learned a lot about the car, the track and the tires. It should be a little bit cooler for the race but not by much. When we’ve tested here in the summertime, it’s quite hot and it’s not quite as hot when we come back for the race. So there’s much better data for that. Our test earlier this month was a chance to put to test some of the theories and ideas the engineers have to improve the car a little bit in places. I’m excited to come back for the race. The car was really good in the September race. It’s good to have gotten Marcel and Nicky some time in the car. That was important with the weekend always being too short once practices start. Having them up to speed will be super important.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:“It was a long time since I was last in the new Corvette – in February for our Sebring test – before the recent session at Road Atlanta. It was nice to be back in the cockpit. It took a moment to get used to everything but I could feel how the car has improved since then, and our test went very well. For me, it was important to get back up to speed as quickly as possible. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve been in the car, and I’m looking forward now to the race. Petit Le Mans is a race I like very much. It looks like our Corvettes will be very competitive. The hope is to have a good weekend, and my goal is to help out my teammates Olly and Tommy to have a good result in the championship. There is still a chance of that, and I hope I can help them out somehow. I’m looking forward to it.”
Driver Standings 1. Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 261 2. Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner – 237
3. Bruno Spengler/Connor De Phillippi – 234
4. Jesse Krohn/John Edwards – 231
5. Fred Makowiecki/Nick Tandy – 197
6. Earl Bamber/Laurens Vanthoor – 196
Team Standings 1. No. 3 Corvette Racing – 261 2. No. 4 Corvette Racing – 237
3. No. 25 BMW Team RLL – 234
4. No. 24 BMW Team RLL – 231
5. No. 911 Porsche GT Team – 197
6. No. 912 Porsche GT Team – 196
Manufacturer Standings 1. Chevrolet – 272
2. BMW – 258
3. Porsche – 216
4. Ferrari – 28
CORVETTE RACING AT MICHELIN RACEWAY ROAD ATLANTA: By the Numbers • 1: As in one team, one manufacturer and one model of car for more than 20 years: Corvette Racing, Chevrolet and the Chevrolet Corvette. • 4: Generations of Corvette Racing entries at Road Atlanta since 1999 – Corvette C5-R (1999-04) Corvette C6.R (2005-2013), Corvette C7.R (2014-2019) and the new-generation Corvette C8.R (current), which made its Road Atlanta debut during September’s six-hour IMSA race. • 6: Career victories at Road Atlanta for Oliver Gavin – all with Corvette Racing. His first came in 2003 (Grand Prix of Atlanta), and five have come in Petit Le Mans (most among active drivers). • 10: Number of Road Atlanta victories for Corvette Racing dating back to 2000 – eight of those at Petit Le Mans. • 10: Petit Le Mans wins for Chevrolet – eight in GT and two in Prototype. That ranks third among manufacturers in event history. • 12: Manufacturer Championships for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing since 2001. • 21: Number of GT Le Mans wins in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing since the start of 2014. • 25: Tracks at which Corvette Racing has won races – Baltimore, Charlotte, COTA, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport, Daytona, Detroit, Houston, Laguna Seca, Le Mans, Lime Rock, Long Beach, Miami, Mid-Ohio, Portland, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Sonoma, St. Petersburg, Texas, Trois Rivieres, Utah, VIR, Washington DC and Watkins Glen. • 29: Number of drivers for Corvette Racing since 1999. • 113: Victories worldwide for Corvette Racing – 102 in North America and eight at Le Mans. • 235: Event starts by Corvette Racing since 1999. • 37,307.76: Number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing in its 24 previous trips to Road Atlanta. That represents 14,911 laps or more than 580 trips around Interstate 285 – Atlanta’s Perimeter. • 308,329.98: Total number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing since its inception. To put that in perspective, Corvette Racing is nearly halfway to the distance traveled by Apollo 13 – the longest manned spaceflight in history – at 622,268 miles.
Corvette Racing at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta 1999
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/John Paul Jr. – 5th in GTS
No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Scott Sharp – 4th in GTS
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/Justin Bell – 3rd in GTS (Fellows pole) No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 1st in GTS
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Scott Pruett – 9th in GTS No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 1st in GTS (Pilgrim pole)
2002 No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Oliver Gavin – 1st in GTS
No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 3rd in GTS (Pilgrim fastest race lap)
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell – 3rd in GTS No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Oliver Gavin/Kelly Collins – 1st in GTS
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Franck Freon – 5th in GTS
No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Oliver Gavin/Kelly Collins/Andy Pilgrim – 3rd in GTS
No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Max Papis – 2nd in GTS No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen – 1st in GTS (Gavin pole, fastest race lap)
2005* No. 3 Corvette C6.R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell – 1st in GT1 (O’Connell pole, fastest race lap)
No. 4 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin – 2nd in GT1