While many folks have been content using their recently-mandated down-time for a little rest and relaxation, it has become obviously clear that Corvette Racing has not been resting on their laurels. Team Corvette’s Independence Day win cinched the C8.R’s first podium finish at Daytona, the 100th win for the team in IMSA competition when Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor claimed the IMSA WeatherTech 240 at Daytona.
From there, team Corvette took on the world at the famous, and infamous, Sebring International Speedway. Corvette Racing brought home both First, and Second Place finishes as Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner took a GT Le Mans (GTLM) victory in the Cadillac Grand Prix for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It was the 12th class victory at Sebring and the 61st First and Second-Place team finish in the racing program’s history.
NEVER Give Up!
Team Corvette has held that motto closely as they’ve wrestled through some grueling battles with the competition and the race held this weekend at Road America clearly shows how right they are to continue with that mantra. When the green flag first gets waved, it’s anybody’s guess who will be there to claim the checkered flag at race’s end. This year’s wild finish for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans (GTLM class) clearly shows that all the planning, perfect driving, and pit strategies, combined with competent machinery can only get you so far. Sometimes, Mother Nature chooses her favorites.
While the two-hour and 40-minute race was exciting from the very beginning, it was the last minutes of the race that kept fans and crews on the edge of their seats. Even though it wound up being Corvette Racing’s first win at Road America since 2016, it was anyone’s guess as the timer clicked down to mere seconds left on the clock.
Things weren’t looking positive for the first half of the race. Taylor qualified second in the No. 3 Corvette and led the race early on, but tire degradation reduced the pace for the GTLM cars. Adding to the problems were electronics issues on the No. 4 Corvette that left both Gavin and Milner without traction control. That was surely going to come into play as the race wore on.
The rain was predicted to roll in during the last hour of the race, and as on cue, it began in various sections of the over four-mile racetrack, leaving some areas dry, while others were now rain-covered and very wet. As the last hour of racing continued, rooster tails became commonplace and both cars and drivers struggled to keep their desired lines or at least on-track at a minimum.
I honestly don’t know how Tommy kept the car on the track when driving around on slick tires behind the safety car. Oliver Gavin, Corvette Racing
Officials halted the race with 43 minutes of racing still on the clock. Teams waited until the rain let up and cars returned to the track with about 25 minutes to go once the red flag was lifted. With about seven minutes to go, and after all the teams had finished their pit stops and installed rain tires, Oliver Gavin and his C8.R were found in Second Place.
As teams were jockeying for their best positions, heavy rains again began to soak the racecourse. Both Garcia and Milner did a masterful job on a wet track with no traction control and with mere seconds on the clock, Garcia was locked in a back-and-forth duel with Porsche’s Nick Tandy just before the GTLM leader and the third-place Porsche went off-track.
Antonio now found himself in the lead, still dealing with wet weather and traction control issues. “It was super tough,” he said. “Because of the wave-by, we were at the back of all the GTD cars and 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… 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.”
Oliver Gavin brought the No. 4 C8.R home with a Second-Place finish as he passed the previous GTLM class leaders who had both spun out. He recalls driving in the wet conditions during the last portions of the race. “Our car was compromised a little as we didn’t have any traction control (TC),” he said. “I fought it all during my stints. I honestly don’t know how Tommy kept the car on the track when 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.”
This weekend’s win brings home several benefits for both the team and its drivers. Garcia and Taylor both won for the first time in their IMSA career at Road America and extended their points lead to 10 in the class. Gavin and Milner unofficially moved to third in the standings. Chevrolet also grew its lead in the GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship to eight points and Corvette Racing has now won three consecutive races in the category. It will be interesting to see if the situation surrounding the final minutes of the race will be taken into consideration, or if changes to the Balance of Performance will be considered, thanks to Corvette’s run of enjoying the top spot at race’s end. For now, Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor sums up the situation quite well.
Check out the video of IMSA’s recap of the Road America race and be sure to watch when the C8.Rs take on some of the world’s best drivers again at the GT-only, Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.