Garcia and Taylor Earn Third Win for Corvette Racing at the Virginia International Raceway!
On Saturday, August 22, 2020,Corvette Racing earned their third win at the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor piloted the No. 3 Mobil 1/Sirium XM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R to victory in the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). This victory follows their earlier win at Road America just three weeks ago, making this their second win in a row, their third win of the season and the fourth consecutive win for Corvette Racing – the first time the team has accomplished this level of successive wins since 2014! The win at VIR extends Garcia and Taylor’s points lead in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) Driver’s Championship to 19 – 165-146 – over the defending GTLM champions Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor of the No. 912 Porsche 911. It also increased Chevrolet’s points lead in the Manufacturer’s standings.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner placed fourth in their No. 4 Mobil1/SiriusXM Chevrolet C8.R. Despite missing a podium finish this round, their results were good enough to keep the No. 4 team third in GTLM points as they head to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in two weeks.
Although Garcia and Taylor are now on one of the hottest winning streaks that the team has experienced in years, their win at VIR was anything but assured. Much like the race at Road America, the duo gained track position as a result of late-race misfortune for the race leader. This time, however, the team also had to overcome their own obstacles in the final 20 minutes of the race.
Jordan Taylor started the race in fifth place but was able to work his way up to second within the first 30 minutes of the race before making his first pit stop at the 30-minute mark. An unfortunate error in pitlane sent the No. 3 Corvette back to fifth position. However, Jordan’s determination and strong driving (along with some bad luck for his fellow competitors) allowed Taylor to push the No. 3 Corvette to take the lead in GTLM class in short order. One of those “unfortunate competitors” was the No. 4 Corvette, which went off-track shortly after a race restart when Gavin picked up debris on his tires prior to the race’s third (and final) restart after a full-course caution just one hour into the race. Despite his efforts to clear the front of the car from the collected debris, Gavin lost control of the Corvette at the final corner before the pits, sending the car onto the grass across from the pitlane entry.
Despite this minor setback, Gavin was able to recover quickly and get the car back in contention in just seven laps, making his way thru the GT Daytona cars until he was trailing the No. 3 Corvette. He pulled the car in for fuel, tires, and a driver change with 65 minutes to go. Virginia native Tommy Milner climbed into the cockpit for the final leg of the race. Both drivers remained optimistic that they could further strengthen their position with a late-race caution.
Meanwhile, the No.3 Corvette, now being piloted by Antonio Garcia, had settled into second place behind race leader Nick Tandy following the final GTLM pit cycle. Garcia trailed Tandy by 13-seconds as the field entered the final twenty minutes of racing. Garcia took the GTLM lead at the 18-minute mark of the two-hour, forty-minute race as Tandy was unexpectedly forced to enter the pits due to a cut left rear tire. It seemed like victory was almost certain for the No. 3 Corvette, although Garcia recognized that he would have to hold off a late-race charge from Bruno Spangler’s No. 25 BMW M8 GTE. No sooner had Tandy entered the pits that Garcia noted – and reported – a vibration from the rear of the car.
“It took me a little bit (to know what was wrong), but the whole car was shaking a lot,” Garcia said. “About 200 kph, the whole car was shaking a lot. It was coming from the rear.”
The issue turned out to be a broken rear diffuser.
“I thought it was terminal because it was vibrating really bad,” Garcia said. “But once I got used to it and knew it wasn’t interfering with the performance, I knew I could handle it. With the gap I could manage to the BMW. It was stressful not knowing what would happen if the rear diffuser would have fallen off, but the C8.R held on.”
Garcia managed to pilot the wounded Corvette C8.R for the remaining minutes of the race. Despite Tandy’s unexpected pitstop, his sizable lead enabled him to jump back onto the track and to begin pressing down on the No. 3 Corvette. Now fighting to maintain the lead, Garcia had to contend with two fierce competitors – Tandy and Spangler – while trying to maintain control of the Corvette. He succeeded and managed to take a 3.521-second margin of victory for the team’s third and (second back-to-back) podium finish!
“For sure, it felt like an endurance race with all the issues people were having,” Taylor said. “Mistakes, going off the track, damage issues, tire issues. It was about minimizing mistakes. It’s not like an IMSA race to have that many issues. For us, we had the least amount of mistakes and that’s why we won.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the TireRack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sept. 4-5.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – RACE WINNER:
“Things are definitely going our way. We can’t complain about that! To do this, you need a fast car and a team to perform the whole time. We have that. We had our issues like the other teams did, but the main thing is that the ones we had were early so we could recover right away. Jordan did a really good job in his middle stint to drive back and maintain the gap behind the leaders. When I jumped in, the race was pretty much done. All I could do was keep some pressure on the 911 and not let him get away and have an easy race to the end. But we had our issues at the same time. They lost another tire and we had an issue with our diffuser. At first I thought it was terminal because it felt really bad. Once I got used to it, I could tell it wasn’t really interfering with the performance. I had enough of a gap to the 25 by about 12 or 13 seconds. With that, I could manage that in a way. It was very stressful to keep going but not knowing what would happen if the diffuser came off. Thankfully the C8.R is very strong all around! I’m very grateful for everyone at Team Chevy and Corvette Racing again. We just need to keep this momentum.”
DID YOU HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH ANYONE OR DID THE DIFFUSER COME LOOSE BY ITSELF? “It just went. It was literally when I was watching the 911 go into the pitlane. At the same time, I had a massive vibration and I thought I had a tire blowing up. It was scary because it would have been a full lap back to the pits. Then I realized it was speed-related and wasn’t bad all the time. It took me three or four laps to be kind of cautious. Once I realized it was hanging on, I stepped up my pace a little bit more to make it difficult for the cars behind me to catch up. I was happy that traffic wasn’t too bad at that time and I could manage to stay ahead.”
WHAT WERE YOU FEELING SPECIFICALLY BEHIND THE WHEEL, AND DID YOU KNOW WHAT IT WAS? “It took me a little bit, but the whole car was shaking a lot. At about 200 kph, the entire car was shaking. I knew it was coming from the back, but even the front end and front grip were moving around. The rear grip definitely was the same so maybe we were a little bit faster down the straights after that! Who knows. It was challenging to drive. Once I figured out what lines to use and not hit the curbs to keep both tires on the ground, it went my way a little bit.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – RACE WINNER:
“My time in the car was good. The Corvette C8.R has a pretty good cooling system, so it was nicer in there than it was watching! Heading into the race, our main objective was points. Seeing how strong the Porsches were on pace, we knew they were going to be hard to beat. We focused on our own race, and it came to us in the end with attrition and not making mistakes. We made one little hiccup in the pits but we were able to recover from that pretty quickly. At the end, Antonio was able to maintain a gap to second when he needed to, even with the vibration at the end. He did a great job of overcoming that. It’s an amazing day for Corvette Racing – the fourth win for the C8.R and third win for us. I’m definitely happy with this part of the season.”
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT THIS WAS A RACE OF SURVIVAL? ALMOST EVERY CAR HAD A PROBLEM AT ONE POINT. “It felt like an endurance race with all the issues everyone was having. A lot of guys were making mistakes… going off-track, pit stop issues and tires. For us, it was about damage control and minimizing mistakes. Today was out-of-character in IMSA to see this many issues happen. I think we had the least amount of mistakes, and that’s why we won.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FOURTH IN GTLM:
“For us, it came down to the wave-around after the last caution where one of the Lamborghini GTDs had to pass me to get back on his lead lap. I had to move off-line and run through a whole lot of pick up and I got my left side tires in it. Apparently I didn’t get them completely clean. Then on the restart it wasn’t completely clean, then I got into the Oak Tree corner and the car began to slide wide again. Maybe the tire wasn’t completely clean… there are just such fine margins here between having grip and no grip. Jordan (Taylor, No. 3 Corvette) nearly got by me as we came out but I stayed in front of him. On the brakes into the next corner, things were pretty messy. As I got into the final corner, I just lost the front of the car, got out on the curb and then was into the grass. Once you are in the grass there, you are a just passenger. It’s frustrating for sure. All I could do is apologize to the guys on the team because we had a great car today. We were fast, we were competitive. Looking at where we were and how things ended up, you could say the win was in the cards for us. But it wasn’t to be. A lot of people had troubles and made mistakes. The only ones that ran trouble-free was the No. 3 Corvette. It’s amazing that we now have four wins in a row and that sets them at the top of the championship as leaders. Hats off to those guys. They have been fast and haven’t made mistakes. That is the name of the game. Others made mistakes and were punished for it. It is so competitive and there is no margin for error in this class.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FOURTH IN GTLM:
“Today was certainly a very weird race. I would say it’s very uncharacteristic in our class for everyone to have some sort of a problem. This is one that I think every team and driver pairing will look back on this one and wonder, ‘What if’. Obviously we’re super happy for the No. 3 guys. Antonio and Jordan drove a great race. They didn’t make any mistakes except for one little hiccup on one pit stop, but ultimately it didn’t have a huge bearing on their race. Congrats to those guys for keeping the Corvette win streak going and keeping Corvette on top. Our competitors are probably sick of seeing Corvette there but we aren’t. We went a very long time – more than two years – without a win, so we are just catching back up. I feel bad for Olly, and obviously he is bummed. We’ve all been there… one little mistake and that can end your chances for the day. I’ve made my share before, and we will both make them again. He was just unlucky today. His situation happened at a part of the track where then terrain makes it difficult to get back on the circuit. We win or lose as a team. We always help each other and support each other through things like this. We will be better for it and for the rest of the year.”