The 58th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the first round of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, saw the first race for the new Corvette C8.R, the participation of an all-female driver line-up, 2019 NASCAR champion Kyle Busch’s first start in a 24-hour race and Ben Keating at the wheel of two different cars.
A NOTEWORTHY DEBUT FOR THE NEW CORVETTE C8.R
The #3 Corvette C8.R finished the first 24-hour race of its career in fourth place in GTLM (the equivalent of LMGTE Pro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans). Drivers Antonio García, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg encountered zero problems with the car and completed 785 laps (nearly 5,000 kilometers). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the #4 Corvette C8.R of Gavin-Milner-Fässler. As the car was in the top 5 in its class going into the ninth hour, an oil leak caused the car to return to its garage. The leak was found to be in an area that forced the mechanics to remove the engine for repair and the work took almost nine hours. The #4 was then able to hit the track again and finished the race in 36th place.
Much like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona is an extremely challenging race. To make it to the checkered flag with an all-new car is already a major accomplishment for Corvette Racing. The American team’s next stop is the 6 Hours of the Circuit of The Americas on Sunday 23 February in Austin, the fifth round of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
AN ALL-FEMALE DRIVER LINE-UP
All-female driver line-up Christina Nielsen, Katherine Legge, Tati Calderon and Rahel Frey shared GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the GTD class, but the car was forced to retire after a fire.
KYLE BUSCH ENJOYS HIS FIRST ENDURANCE RACE
2019 NASCAR champion Kyle Busch took the start in his first Rolex 24 at Daytona at the wheel of the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team’s Lexus RC-F GT3. Along with teammates Parker Chase, Jack Hawksworth and Michael de Quesada, Busch finished 26th overall and ninth in the GTD class. The American driver pulled off a double and a triple stint without the slightest mistake and said after the race he really enjoyed the experience and hopes to return for the overall win.
BEN KEATING DOUBLES DOWN
Ben Keating participated in his 10th Rolex 24 at Daytona at the wheel of not one but two cars: the #52 ORECA 07 fielded by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports in the LMP2 class and the #74 Mercedes AMG-GT3 fielded by Riley Motorsports in GTD. Both cars crossed the finish line, the #52 ORECA 07 in 10th place overall and second in its class two laps from the winners, and the #74 Mercedes AMG-GT3 in 29th place overall and 11th in its class. This was the fifth time Keating participated in the race with two different cars.
Source: 24H LE MANS
Corvette Racing’s veteran stars, Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia, are positive about the new mid-engined C8.R’s progress but are uncertain how it will perform relative to its GT Le Mans class opposition at this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Gavin’s full-time partner Tommy Milner set Corvette Racing’s fastest time in Roar Before the 24 qualifying which decides garages and pit stalls, and he was encouragingly just 0.108sec off the top time in class, set by James Calado in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.
However, Gavin warned that the race will be several hours old before everyone gets an accurate picture of how the GTLM contenders match up.
“The C8.R is a brand new car and this is its first race outing,” said the 2016 Rolex 24 winner. “We won’t know where we are in respect to the competition, and they will be looking at us and figuring out where we’re strong and where we’re weak.
“You can pick up little bits and pieces during the Roar and even in the two or three practice sessions before the Rolex 24, but you never really get a great idea of where you’re at until you get five hours or so into the race.
“But it always comes down to the last two hours. It would be quite remarkable if we could come right out of the box and be super-fast, super-reliable and have a successful weekend the first time out.”
Two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans title winner and 2015 Rolex 24 winner Garcia also sounded a note of caution.
“So far, the new Corvette has been quite decent in testing,” said the Spaniard who is entering his seventh season with the legendary team. “It is still very early stages for this car.
“Even though we think we are ready, there are things that can come up. We must do everything we can to make sure we are as prepared as possible. Then we can see what we really have.
“Our testing has been a consistent evolution between track days and simulator work. We’ve been able to develop a plan to develop the car even though we weren’t testing on the track. The correlation of data has been good. Everything that we have tested virtually is working in real life. That makes life a lot easier when you can use all your tools to improve.
“We continue to validate all the work we’ve done and what we find on the racetrack. We are on the right track.”
While Gavin and Milner continue to be partnered by Marcel Fassler for the endurance races, Garcia not only is working with a new enduro extra – Nicky Catsburg – he also has a new full-time partner.
Jordan Taylor, who in 2017 won the IMSA Prototype title with the team owned by his father Wayne Taylor, and has two Rolex 24 wins to his credit, has moved to the GTLM class with Corvette, replacing Jan Magnussen.
This continues a relationship with the Doug Fehan-run team that stretches back to 2012, the first of six years in which Taylor raced a Corvette in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Partnering Gavin and Milner, he won the GTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2015.
“I’m excited to go back into GT racing with Corvette in GTLM with all-manufacturer teams and all-professional drivers,” he said. “The class will get a lot of eyes on it with the first race for the C8.R.
“The race itself will be extremely difficult. I’ll have to get used to looking in my mirrors again! In testing, I was reminding myself to check the mirrors leaving certain corners so I could get in the habit of doing it for the race.
“So I’m looking forward to it. Overall wins are fantastic, but a win is a win; you still get a Rolex watch no matter what class you’re in! But for us in GTLM, the competition will be the same if not more difficult than in prototypes.”
Source: David Malsher-Lopez
Corvette Racing drivers on anticipation of Roar Before Rolex 24 with new mid-engined C8.R…
Antonio Garcia believes there will be “big steps” to come in the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R’s development as the new-for-2020 mid-engined GT Le Mans class contender makes its public debut in this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24.
The Pratt & Miller-built Corvette, along with Porsche’s 2019-spec 911 RSR, are the two all-new GTE-spec cars set for their first official competitive outings in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition during the three-day mandatory test.
While having already completed private testing at the 3.56-mile oval/road course, Garcia believe every lap will matter in their plan for the weekend.
“There is a lot to discover and develop,” Garcia said. “Usually your starting point is better than what you previously had.
“But this is completely different. We are still in the early stages with this new Corvette.
“There will be big steps for sure.
“I don’t know when we will get to the point where we will start making little steps. We need to run this car and we need to race it to find out where we are against our competition.
“We are concentrating on our own work. Whenever it becomes race time, we will know where we actually are.”
Garcia’s new full-season co-driver Jordan Taylor said they won’t necessarily be concerned about pace at the Roar, which will also set the pit lane and garage allocations through a qualifying session on Sunday morning.
The 28-year-old, who makes the switch from his family’s Wayne Taylor Racing operation, said little things, such as driver changes, will be a focal point as well once they achieve the targeted baseline.
“As many laps as we can get at the Roar and going through the program, getting all the drivers on the same page from a setup point of view and then the little things like pit stops and driver changes will be different than what we’ve had in the past,” he said.
“The car is a little more tricky to get in and out.
“Understanding that muscle memory of the process of getting in and out, where the seatbelts go, where the drinks bottle is, where the air hose goes… those little details that we haven’t refined that were refined with the C7.R are things that will show up in a 24-hour event, so those are things we will need to check off the list at the Roar.”
Gavin: “Very Structured” Plan for Weekend
Team veteran Oliver Gavin, who returns to the No. 4 entry alongside Tommy Milner, said that coming away with achieving 60 or 70 percent of their list will be considered a “big win” over the weekend.
“The team is going to have a very structured plan,” Gavin said. “And that’s one of the things that’s so good about Corvette Racing. We plan our time and fundamentally understand what all we have to work through and the list of things we need to achieve.
“The third drivers will need time in the car. We’ll all have to work through that program and procedure as best we can.
“Certainly we’ll learn a huge amount every time we go on track just with how certain tires work, how the braking package works, the aero setup, weight placement… all kinds of different thoughts that the team will look to work through.
“We know that of that list of 50 things we want to try and achieve, the chances are that if we can come away with 60 or 70 percent of that done, it’s a pretty big win.”
Original Source; John Dagys. Sportscar365
Hans and crew @ the 24 Hours of Daytona 2014……….
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