Corvette Racing have had a 782 day wait for their 100th victory in IMSA competition, but the Daytona 240 last night provided two significant headlines, the century of wins completed, and the very first for their new Corvette C8.R
It was the #3 C8.R of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor that took the win has been coming for more than two years. The last one for the team came in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in April 2018 (below)!
It was a win earned with effort on-track, and with smarts from the Corvette Racing crew behind the pit wall too in a race that all six GTLM class contenders took a turn in the lead as fuel strategy became the ace in the hole.
Taylor started in the eventual winning car, running error-free in the challenging early conditions on a drying track with both ‘Vettes opting to start on slicks.
“The engineers spotted very early how close we’d have been with fuel and how early we should start working on that,” Garcia said. “Jordan did a great job and saved a lot there and I saved another one. We didn’t know about the 912. We didn’t know if they could make it or if we were fighting them and the #911.
Garcia won the high-speed game of musical chairs by 1.977 seconds ahead of defending WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR-19.
As Taylor did in his stint, Garcia went a lap longer than most of his competitors in his first run and emerged directly behind Earl Bamber’s Porsche with 51 minutes go as the two stopped on the same lap. Patience paid off for Garcia, who made the winning pass with 31 minutes left and set fastest GTLM lap of the race in the process.
“We were expecting the Porsche to follow the #4 car (Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin), but we realized it was a fight. As soon as I had an opportunity early in the stint when I knew my tires were good, I waited for Earl to make a little mistake, and because I was able to follow very close I took advantage of that position. After that, I worked my way through traffic really, really well.”
It was Taylor’s first GTLM win after moving from his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi team to the Corvette factory programme for this season.
“It’s obviously very special,” Taylor said. “I was Antonio’s third driver for so many years and we finished second at Sebring, and Petit and Le Mans, and had so many podiums. It’s great to finally get a win with Antonio. And to get a win on the Fourth of July in an American car and being an American driver is pretty sweet.”
Bamber and co-driver Laurens Vanthoor finished second, matching their result from January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona. The same can be said for #911 Porsche co-drivers Nick Tandy and Frederic Makowiecki, who claimed their second straight third-place trophies in Daytona’s Victory Lane.
Class pole-winner Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner placed fifth in the #4 Corvette C8.R, splitting the BMW M8 GTE pair.
Antonio Garcia: “I think we deserved this moment. We came up just short so many times even though we won championships. All I could think about when I went across the line was remembering about Kyle (Millay, race engineer, (ex-teammate) Jan Magnussen, Dan Binks and us coming so close.
“It’s the first win for the Corvette C8.R, 100th in IMSA for Corvette Racing and the first victory with Jordan. This is huge.
“This means a lot. Our last win was at VIR in 2017. From then until now, you look at all the times we finished second and how many times we could have won a race. So I’m very happy about today. There was great execution in the race and we didn’t make a single mistake. It really showed that we learned a lot from the Rolex 24. This was a perfect day for us with the first pole and first win for the Corvette C8.R. Hopefully this is the first of many.”
How close were you on fuel at the end? “That was the big thing. Jordan did a perfect job on that. He saved one lap in his stint, and I saved one on my first stint. We were going for a green race and made it to the end. We didn’t know if the Porsche would make it, and when we came out after the last stop we knew it was going to be between us. I’m very happy for Corvette Racing and Team Chevy. We came so close with the C7.R, now it’s time to win with the C8.R.”