Corvette Racing at Charlotte: Garcia, Taylor Win a Thriller
Fifth win for GTLM leaders, sixth for first-year Chevrolet Corvette C8.R
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2020) – Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor’s charmed season continued Saturday as they claimed another victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a victory in their No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
Garcia passed John Edwards for the lead with 21 minutes left and held on despite a late-race caution on a tricky and treacherous night at the Roval – the first time for Corvette Racing at the venue. The duo extended their GTLM Drivers’ Championship lead to 24 points over their Corvette Racing teammates Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin, who finished fourth in the No. 4 Corvette C8.R.
Chevrolet also saw its lead grow in the Manufacturers standings to 14 points.
Garcia and Taylor have now won five of eight races this year and four of the last five in the first year of the mid-engine Corvette C8.R. Taylor began on pole position Saturday for the second consecutive race, but conditions were much different at the green flag with a steady rain having pelted the track since mid-afternoon. The first 16 minutes featured two full-course cautions, and both Corvettes came in at 20 minutes running for fuel, tires and driver changes – Taylor to Garcia and Gavin to Milner.
On the restart, Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette ran second while Milner made a big move on the inside of the first corner to move from fourth to third. He fell back a few laps later before the track began to dry somewhat, and the Corvettes grew stronger during a long-green flag run. It culminated with Garcia moving in front with a move on Edwards to the inside of Turn 8 just before the infield section rejoined the banked oval part of the track.
Garcia pulled away quickly and led by as much as five seconds a handful of laps later. Milner, too, was making a charge back to podium position before part of the No. 4 Corvette’s right-rear suspension broke with 11 minutes remaining. Milner went hard into the outside wall but got out of the car under his own power and later was evaluated and released from the infield care center.
The race began again with five minutes to go, and Garcia pulled out to a one-second lead with a lap to go and rain falling again. He crossed the finish line with a 1.474-second margin of victory.
Corvette Racing heads back to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for next week’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans on Oct. 15-17.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – RACE WINNER:
“It was super, super stressful. Even if it felt like I was just following the 24, I was really hanging on. I probably crashed four or five times, just like everyone else. Jordan gave me some very good indications before he jumped out and before we went green to give me confidence in following the BMW. They were really strong right away, but I didn’t really give up. As soon as I felt like we stabilized on lap times, I kept pressuring him and using traffic to close up. They were very strong as you saw with their sister car. As soon as I saw they were struggling a little bit with tires – especially the 24 – I stayed patient even when the 25 was coming. I saw my opportunity and went for it. I don’t know if it was risky move or not, but at that point I didn’t think about the championship. I wanted to win the race. As soon as I got past, I put my head down, tried to open a gap and it worked. I’m very happy for Corvette Racing and Team Chevy. I’m glad Tommy is OK. We have a very fast car but also a very safe car. That’s a magnificent combination of car here. It’s great to be driving for the best team out there and keep winning races. We need to keep this mentality and go all the way to the end.”
DID THE TRACK IMPROVE FROM THE START? “The first two laps was close to how we finish. It was very difficult at the beginning. There was a massive river going across at Turn Three, and I almost lost it two or three times there. The conditions definitely improved, but lap by lap you know where to place your car, and following someone opens the water a little bit for you. Once we got into a rhythm, the track improved for sure but it started to rain at the end. Being in the wet in the dark also makes it difficult to spot standing water.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – RACE WINNER:
“At the beginning of the race, there obviously was a lot of water on the track, and with the lighting it was hard to see where the standing water was. Considering our championship position, it was kind of damage control for me, trying to stay on the track and handing off the car in one piece. It was easy to get caught up in battling with people at that point of the race, but there was really no point. You weren’t going to win the race in the first 20 or 30 minutes. I was glad to get through that phase and hand over the car to Antonio and let him go for it. He did a great job of keeping the car out of the wall for those first few laps and putting the pressure on the BMW. We would have been happy leaving here with a podium given the championship position with three races to go. But he kept the pressure on, never put a wheel wrong and was able to get by. It’s really awesome to maximize the points when we didn’t expect it. We can go into the last three races and race for the win, as well. It’s another great day for Corvette Racing. It’s good to see that Tommy walked away from that big hit at the end. It says a lot about Chevrolet and Corvette Racing and how safe they build the race cars and how strong they are. It give us a lot of confidence when we strap in that we’re going to be safe.”
ROLE OF THE CHEVROLET SIMULATOR IN RACE PREP: “If it wasn’t for the simulator, we probably wouldn’t have been able to put it on the pole and been able to stay out of trouble like that. So the simulator was a big tool for us. I’m glad this all worked out.”
LOOKING TO PETIT LE MANS: “We’re already thinking about it. It’s at the top of Antonio’s list of races to win. The focus has already shifted. The guys are driving to Atlanta tomorrow to prep the cars, but unfortunately they’ll have a lot to prep on the 4 car. We did a test day there last week where Nicky (Catsburg) and Marcel (Fassler) were able to get some laps. At the Six-Hour, we struggled with a few things and I think we found a few things at the test for some long runs and working on the different compounds of tires. This weekend was good to get in some mixed conditions. We haven’t had a lot of rain and mixed conditions in a race setting other than Road America. It was good to get a bit of everything. Now no matter what we see at Petit Le Mans, we feel pretty well prepared.”
DID THE ADDITIONAL INFIELD LIGHTING HELP? “Yes, we tested here about a month ago and the lighting was pretty difficult to see where you were going. They’ve definitely made some nice improvements. If it had been a dry race, the visibility would have been great. When you add in the water with the type of surface they have here, it’s very reflective when there’s a lot of water on it. It’s hard to distinguish what’s a damp section and what’s a deep section. It’s hard to pick out what’s what at night. It took some getting used to, but it probably made a good show on TV. It looked pretty spectacular when I got out and watched all the headlights reflecting off everything. This was definitely a cool event, and I’m glad we were able to win the first one back here.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FOURTH:
“This whole weekend has been a massive challenge. The format of this race and the way it has happened made for some quite difficult sessions. Then you add in the extra element of the weather conditions, it just seemed like it was culminating in somewhat of a bit of a perfect storm for us. The start of the race for me was crazy. There were massive amounts of standing weather everywhere. I was just hanging on, just driving the car around and trying not to crash. I had multiple moments every single lap thinking well I could finish the race by doing something daft, so I just got myself into a position where I could sort of survive. Others were spinning off and crashing, and we ended up in third when we came in for the pit stop and hand it over for Tommy to drive. It was looking okay for a while and Tommy had pretty good pace. Then we had the issue at the right-rear. We still are trying to figure out what exactly happened. It just seems if something can go wrong, it will go wrong for us unfortunately. But I am very happy Tommy was able to walk away. It was a pretty high-speed accident so that’s a great testament to the guys at Chevrolet and Corvette for how well they’ve engineering the road car and the race car. That was a really big hit and Tommy was able to walk away on his own. And of course, I’m happy for Jordan and Antonio in picking up another win. It’s another positive outcome for the team.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FOURTH:
“I didn’t have any indication at any point that there was something going wrong. Everything felt totally normal up until it wasn’t. I had almost finished on the banking, which is more G-loading than Daytona. It doesn’t really explain the problem, it seems like. At first I thought I lost a tire, like it just overheated or something like that for how quickly it went around. The first indications were that wasn’t the case. The track had some pretty gnarly weeps in the seams of the race track that would get you a little bit loose sometimes, but it was never really a huge deal. Upon further inspection, it looks like once the car got back to the trucks, we did have something at the right-rear and the wheel came off. Fortunately, this is a really strong and safe Corvette that we have and it held up really well. Selfishly I’m glad it is nothing I did wrong, but that doesn’t change the outcome. There is still a lot of work for the guys to get the car fixed and get ready to go to Petit Le Mans in less than a week. I feel bad for the guys for the amount of work they have to do. Obviously, the first thing we do as a team is to figure out what the failure is, how it happened and make the necessary changes to prevent that from happening again. The guys will go through that in the next couple of days and come up with a good plan.
“In the last part there, I don’t know if it was the BMW kind of fading or us getting better. I got a little bit unlucky at the start of my stint with traffic. I got balked pretty bad there going into Turn One and had a little moment and the No. 25 got around me. We knew that was going to be a big deal here. It seemed like the car was getting better toward the end. Once Antonio got around the No. 24, he was able to pull away with a little bit of a gap. I was just trying to put a little pressure on the two cars in front of me and see if we could make them make a mistake again to get around. Passing is very difficult here, but it never quite got to that point unfortunately for us. It just wasn’t our day today. I felt like we had a pretty good car. We were fast in practice and it looked like we were making decent progress at the end, but we never got there.”