Corvette Racing at Road America: Another 1-2 Finish for the C8.R Corvette Race Teams!
While there has been a lot of speculation around how well a mid-engine Corvette race car would fare in open competition, the past couple of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races have certainly proved the cars more than capable of holding their own on the racetrack.
Corvette Racing took its second consecutive 1-2 finish in the GT Le Mans (GLTM) class during today’s race at Road America. Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia won for the second time this season in their No. 3 Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R following a late-race pass in torrential rain. Following close behind was Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the sister No. 4 Corvette C8.R for the second-place finish. Today’s victory marks the eighth time that Corvette Racing has found victory at Road America and is also the first time the team has won there since 2016. Interestingly, both Garcia and Taylor had their first IMSA win at Road America. Today’s win will extend the team’s GTLM class lead by 10 points. Similarly, Chevrolet increased its GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship by eight points. With today’s second-place finish, Gavin and Milner unofficially moved to third in the GTLM standings.
Today’s victory at Road America means that Corvette Racing has now had three consecutive wins this season in the GTLM category. However, things weren’t looking promising for either car during the first half of the race.
Jordan Taylor, who had qualified the No. 3 Corvette C8.R in second, led the race early but lost position due to tire degradation. Additionally, the No.4 Corvette C8.R experienced electronic issues that left drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner without traction control.
Rain proved to be a pivotal factor in the final hour of the race. Garcia, who had taken over the No.3 Corvette for the final leg of the race with just two hours to go, recognized the storms were rolling in before any of the other class drivers and brought the Corvette into the pits for rain tires while running in sixth place. Two other GTLM cars followed Garcia into the pits but the remainder of the field stayed out on the track, including the then-leading #912 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Earl Bamber. Bamber stayed out for another lap but ended up sliding off the track into the Turn 1 run-off, which resulted in a full-course yellow flag.
As they say, timing is everything…and Garcia had unknowingly made the right call. He had ended up on pitlane just moment before the pits were closed due to the caution and he left the pits running on rain tires, setting the No. 3 Corvette to handle the slick conditions created by the downpour that caused the 911 to wreck. Milner and the No. 4 Corvette remained on slick tires during the first deluge of rain that caused officials to halt the race with 43 minutes left on the clock. The clock continued to click down as the rain pounded the track. Then, as abruptly as it had started, the rain relented.
With 25 minutes remaining on the clock, the race continued, once the red flag had been lifted. As teams navigated their final pitstops to grab wet tires, racing resumed with seven minutes left to go. At this point, Garcia was in second place.
A second, even more severe downpour began with just minutes left in the two-hour, 40-minute race. Garcia, vying for first in GTLM, was locked in a back-and-forth duel with Porsche’s Nick Tandy just before the GTLM leader slid off the track late in the lap. Similarly, the third-place 911 followed suit. Both Garcia and Milner managed to navigate around these treacherous events and keep their cars on the track. This accomplishment is even more impressive considering that Milner was operating a Corvette without any traction control.
In the end, the Corvettes took the checkered flag under a race-ending, full-course caution period in a one-two lineup that couldn’t have been predicted – or believed – at the midway point of the race.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the GT-only Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 22.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER:
“It was super tough. Because of the wave-by, we were at the back of all the GTD cars. So the spray we had back there was amazing. It was impossible to see anything. The first thing was to go by a couple of LMP2 cars while fighting (Nick) Tandy to catch up to the 24 BMW. It was a very intense three laps. I knew from Sebring practice that the Corvette C8.R was really good in the wet, even if today was beyond wet! I had Nick all over me, and we had many times when we were together… almost just sailing together instead of racing together. I knew the Carousel and the Kink were going to be really bad, and the line I took on the previous lap seemed to work. Luckily enough for me it was the same and I was one of the few cars to make it through. It’s another 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing, which is amazing. It’s finally my first victory at Road America, so it’s been a very good weekend.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE OF THE BMW AHEAD OF YOU? DID HE SPIN ON HIS OWN?
“The Carousel and the Kink were almost impossible to go through that part of the track. There is really nothing you can do there. It depends on the depth of the water. The Corvette C8.R survived it better than the rest. I don’t know if it was due to the race line I took. I was following the car behind me and saw the BMW lose control. The race still wasn’t done because I had to do another lap through there. It’s a credit to how good the C8.R is in the wet. Thanks to everyone at Team Chevy because this car seems to be working in all conditions.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS THIS WIN TO EXTEND YOUR POINTS LEAD?
“We didn’t know starting the season how the C8.R would be. With the fourth at Daytona, we saw the potential of the car. Our team did a great job during the shutdown with fixing things that needed to be corrected. We’ve had a chance to win the last three races, and we’ve converted those. We need to keep putting pressure on everyone and make the rest of the field make mistakes. On our own, we need to be there in the end and maximize our points opportunities. The next one is VIR, where we have tested with the new Corvette. We will do what we can to keep this momentum and carrying on winning.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM RACE-WINNER:
“It was a wild day…very unexpected. The race started off strong for us. We took a different strategy to go with three stops from the beginning. Thankfully it worked out well with the timing, the rain, and track position. Antonio never gave up. It was a tough fight in tough conditions, but he did a great job of surviving for our second win of the year and third of the year for Corvette Racing.”
THIS RACE WAS ON THE NATIONAL NBC NETWORK. WAS THIS THE KIND OF EXCITEMENT THAT WAS GOOD FOR NETWORK TV?
“It had a bit of everything. The start for me was exciting, and the battles were all good. I could see on the big screen across the front stretch that the prototype battle was often exciting and had a little bit of everything with the strategies. The weather was a bit different for those who probably turn into NBC for NASCAR where they wouldn’t run in the rain. There were probably too many crashes for everyone’s liking, but the show was very exciting with the battle for the win at the end. You like to see that between the manufacturers.”
TALK ABOUT WINNING ON THE SAME DAY AS YOUR BROTHER (RICKY TAYLOR):
“It’s definitely cool. I think this is the first time we’ve won on the same weekend. I know we’ve gotten a pole on the same weekend, but in all the years a win has never gone both our ways. It was cool to watch their battle at the end with the 10 car. I know my dad’s team hasn’t won here either, and we tried hard for many years.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SECOND IN GTLM:
“I take my hat off to the team every time for never giving up. It didn’t look like we were going to be finishing that high up in the dry. But as we all know, there was a chance of rain all around. In this part of the world when the rain comes, it comes big. You just have to take you chances and make the right calls at the right time. We got a little lucky with a few things, and ultimately the No. 3 Corvette made the right choice on the right tires at the right time. We didn’t quite get that break or make that decision at that time. But then as all the pit stops cycled through for that last restart, we knew we just had to flat-out race. Our car was compromised a little as we didn’t have any traction control as part of an electrical issue throughout the entire race that we couldn’t really get on top of it. I fought it all during my stints. I honestly don’t know how Tommy kept the car on the track when he driving around on slick tires behind the safety car. I mean… water that was three or four inches deep on slick tires with no TC was amazing. For us to come away, even with all the stuff that happened, with a one-two finish is pretty spectacular. Hats off to the team and the crew and also to the C8.R. It seems like it is a car that can live through some crazy circumstances and conditions on track and deals with it. It’s a very fine car.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SECOND IN GTLM:
“That was absolutely wild. We had kind of a tough day to start with, but it came back pretty well for us there at the end. Credit to the guys with their never-give-up attitude that Corvette Racing is famous for definitely paid off today. The conditions were unbelievably difficult. The call to stay out there on slicks just before the full-course yellow was just as much mine as it was the engineers. I thought it was the right thing to do to run one more lap to see how bad the rain was going to be. And it ended up being almost biblical in the amount of rain that came. In all the races I’ve done, this has been the most rain I’ve ever seen come down at one time. It was hard enough just keeping it on the track under yellow with slicks, and it was bad enough when it was still green just trying to survive. Then it went red flag so we had the opportunity to come in and change it to rain tires. That in itself was difficult. For me I knew I just needed to get to pitlane and survive. That was the name of the game there and see what happened at the end. Once we went green, it was the most difficult conditions I have ever driven in my life with the amount of spray and with traffic and having so many cars around. At times it felt like I was driving blind. I could have closed my eyes and would have had the same amount of visibility at that point. I just tried to use very bit of muscle memory and track knowledge I could as to where the track goes at certain points. In the end, luckily we just survived with a first and second for the team. The day didn’t start out well, but it ended as well as it could.”
(Not having traction control)
“Because I didn’t have it from the time I got in the car, I had to manage it from the start. In the dry, it’s definitely difficult because you are trying to not use the rear tires too much. I felt like I did a decent job in that first run but driving in the wet without it makes it that much more difficult. To be honest, the Corvette felt really good in the wet. Even though we don’t have a lot of time in the wet, the guys made the right call with tire pressure. When the Michelin wet tires are new, they’re really good. That gave me the confidence early on to really push, get through traffic, and trust in the car and tire to find the fastest way around.”