Chevy racing–imsa–road america advance

Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R) met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Monday to discuss their GT Le Mans championship lead, progress of the mid-engine Corvette C8.R and the outlook for the IMSA SportsCar Weekend event at Road America, among other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RROAD AMERICA WAS THE FIRST TRACK WHERE YOU TESTED THE CORVETTE C8.R. CAN YOU CONTRAST WHAT THE CAR FELT LIKE BACK IN 2018 AND HOW IT IS NOW?“I hope it’s very different, although back then it was already very good. I saw this morning an in-car video of the C8.R around Road America, and that makes you think about how much the car has developed in almost two years. It already was really good back then so obviously now it should be even better. So I’m really looking forward to Friday and the first practice to see what it feels like. I was at the Chevy simulator late last week, and it felt really good. We need to doublecheck and see how it feels come Friday on the racetrack.”
WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED SINCE THE BREAK, AND WHY HAS THE TEAM BEEN ON SUCH A HOT STREAK?“At the Rolex 24, we were good but that was hidden by little mistakes and issues we had toward the finish. We had been competitive for the first 20 hours but had a few little things going on with the car because it was very new. The pace was there but we weren’t able to fight for the win at the end. Each month, there is a ton of development and we continue to show that. Even when we weren’t on the track, we continued to develop the C8.R.”
DOES RUNNING THE DAYTONA ROAD COURSE WITH NASCAR INTEREST YOU?“Definitely it does. I love racing and I love racing in different series, so I’d like to have a go in this one. With no practice or anything until the race, maybe it would be a little bit of risk for the driver or the team. But I think we should open up our minds a little bit to see if it leads to more IMSA guys going to NASCAR. It would be very good for both series.”
IN THE U.S., WE KIND OF GO BIG FOR A 40TH BIRTHDAY. WERE YOU ABLE TO DO ANYTHING BIG WHEN YOU WERE IN SPAIN OR IS IT NOT AS BIG A DEAL?“It is for sure. I had a little party because back then in June we were open a little bit in Spain. The amount of people you could gather was very small. We had a little dinner and little party with not even 20 people. It was good fun but as you said, this is a new chapter. I didn’t really have time to really enjoy what happens when you turn 40 but so far, I’m just living my new life here in America over the last five weeks! But I’m looking forward to getting back to Spain next week and seeing my family.”
WAS IT FIVE WEEKS SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE ABLE TO BE HOME?“Yes. We flew here on June 18 so it’s already five-and-a-half weeks… if not more. I’ve lost track of that! For sure it’s the longest amount of time I’ve been away from my family and kids. Luckily, we’ve had good results to go with that and show the kids some trophies! But yeah, it’s been tough. My kids are six and four… at least I didn’t miss their birthdays! Luckily my oldest had a birthday right before I left Spain, so at least I managed to be there for that. I’m looking forward to getting back.”
TALK ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN DYNAMIC WHEN YOU’RE RACING YOUR TEAMMATE FOR A WIN COMPARED TO A BMW OR PORSCHE. HOW MUCH RISK DO YOU TAKE?“For sure you need to be more careful than when you fight another manufacturer. The car was feeling really good and I just kept doing my job. I knew I was closing up to Tommy (Milner) and I’d get to him with almost no laps left in the race. Fighting your own car is probably the worst because your weakness is their weakness, and you don’t have anything on top of the other car, whereas you might when you fight another manufacturer. We might find ourselves in that situation again later on the year, but this is what Corvette Racing wants. I hope we can fight more in those positions and I hope for it to be the other way around and defending from the 4 Corvette. It felt nice to be chasing the leader and it being a teammate.”
AT ROAD AMERICA, WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR FROM THE SETUP AND IT IS IT IN THE CAR’S WHEELHOUSE FROM WHAT YOU’VE SEEN?“As Jordan said earlier, tire degradation is always a key thing at Road America. This new Corvette should be a little bit better on that compared to the C7.R. Porsche was strong last year and they obviously are going to be strong again. At Sebring, they showed really good pace behind us. With BMW getting a break, it will be difficult to fight them. That will create different speeds at different parts of the track where each car will be strong. We will see where everything lines up, but for sure that should be interesting.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RTALK ABOUT THE MOMENTUM YOU AND ANTONIO HAVE GOING INTO ROAD AMERICA AND LEADING THE GTLM CHAMPIONSHIP.“It’s amazing that we’ve come out so strong after the quarantine period. No one really knew what to expect after being off months; it was longer than a normal offseason without any real testing or racing. Everyone went in with that unexpected feel. It shows a lot for what Corvette Racing is about and the preparation it does behind the scenes. Even though no one could go to the race shop, the engineers were working from home and made huge strides on the C8.R… and doing development on it from home. We went back to Daytona and obviously had a good race there with the win and then went back to Sebring where we were able to do a two-day test there before the quarantine and one simulator test when that period opened back up. For us it was an unknown for us because it was the first non-Daytona track where we were competing against all the other teams. Daytona is so unique in that you can stack up well at that track and have that not be relevant anywhere else. So it was promising that we were able to get the pole. The car was amazing all race weekend, and I think we’ve shown we can be competitive on all different kinds of tracks. I’m really looking for this one at Road America.”
ANY UPDATES ON YOUR EFFORTS TO RUN NASCAR ON THE DAYTONA ROAD COURSE?“Nope, I’m still in the same spot. I’ve tried for the past six or seven years. I had a close relationship with Childress for six years in running their engines in prototypes and having a lot of success with them. Unfortunately nothing worked out in any of these years but I’m still trying. It would be nice. Like Antonio said, it would be risky now with no practice but anytime an opportunity comes up to do one of the road courses then it would be a lot of fun.”
WE’VE SEEN THE BOP COME OUT FOR ROAD AMERICA. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE BMWs IN PARTICULAR? THEY SEEM TO HAVE GOTTEN QUITE A BREAK IN BOTH POWER AND WEIGHT.“Road America is definitely a power track, so I think that will be pretty major when we go there. We saw at the Rolex that they had a pretty big power advantage where they were able to drive around most competitors. I’m not sure where their loss of performance was at the Daytona and Sebring sprint races compared to the Rolex but going to Road America that change should benefit them. I feel like we had a good car over the long run as well at Sebring. Road America often has a big tire degradation part to it, so for us that could be a big part of the race strategy-wise. I have a lot of faith regardless in everyone at Corvette Racing.”
DO YOU THINK PORSCHE WOULD BE YOUR STRONGEST COMPETITOR OR THE BMW? OR IS IT TOO EARLY TO SAY?“It’s too early to say. For us in the Corvette, as Antonio said we tested a couple of years ago at Road America with this car. At Sebring we were able to test, and obviously we had a lot of laps at Daytona. Road America is a new one for us and we are going in open-minded with a bit of an unknown. Friday will be a big test for us.”
AFTER THE POLE RUN AT SEBRING, THERE WAS SOME CROSSOVER BETWEEN THE GTLM CARS AND THE TAIL-END OF THE P2 FIELD WITH SOME LESS-EXPERIENCED DRIVERS STARTING THAT RACE. HOW FRUSTRATING WAS THAT, AND HOW CAN YOU MANAGE THAT ANY DIFFERENTLY IF YOU’RE ON POLE AGAIN?“It’s definitely frustrating. We qualified within a second of the back two guys in P2. As soon as I saw that result, I talked to Beaux (Barfield, IMSA Race Director) to see what we could do or even separate the field a little bit… not even have separate starts but get a gap, but he said we couldn’t do that. I knew someone was going to take a risk to try and pass one of those P2s at the start. I was hoping to get one going into Turn One but he was able to carry a bit more speed into the corner but braked very early for Turn Three, which bottled me up and allowed two guys to get by me. It’s definitely frustrating but at the same time they’re out there having fun and supporting the sport and helping it grow. But it would be nice if there was some separation or a way to get around that issue.”
WHEN YOU WERE RUNNING WITH YOUR BROTHER FOR YOUR DAD’S TEAM, YOU ALWAYS RAN WELL AT ROAD AMERICA BUT SOMETHING ALWAYS HAPPENED TO KEEP YOU FROM VICTORY. WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO GET THAT WIN AT ROAD AMERICA WITH CORVETTE?“I’d definitely like it. The sad part with Wayne Taylor Racing is that one of our mechanics who had worked with my dad since the early 1990s and still does the driver changes had never won at Road America, either. That was always a big one on our list every year – the Rolex 24, Sebring, Petit Le Mans with Road America up there to get him that win. We finished on the podium a few times, and a lot of those were fuel mileage races that never worked out. Looking at the last two races for Corvette, we’ve had pace and strategy on our side. I have a lot of confidence going in there. The BoP will be interesting to see how it plays out, but also having Antonio in the car is something I couldn’t ask much more going into it.”
TRADITIONALLY THIS RACE FALLS IN THE STRETCH RUN OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP. IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THIS TIME AROUND. DOES THAT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC AND APPROACH?“For me, it’s been a bit different for me in GTLM already. With how close the points are, you can’t afford to take a big risk. There are few cars so if there is a big points swing, it’s hard to gather that back. Maybe running these consistent finishes and going for podiums is a smart way to go. If you take a risk and end up sixth, the points swing to the guys you’re racing for the championship with is pretty big and hard to claw back. For us, we have to race smart and take the wins if they are falling their way but not fight for a victory if it’s not in the cards and is too risky.”
DO YOU TYPICALLY ALWAYS FIND YOURSELF IN A SITUATION WHERE ONE DRIVER IS SAVING FUEL SO THE OTHER CAN GO, OR ARE YOU BOTH SAVING FUEL SO AT THE RIGHT TIME EITHER ONE CAN GO?“At Daytona we saved a lot of fuel on the 3 car side and the 4 went on a different strategy and obviously it fell our way. If there had been a yellow late in the race, it would have gone the 4 team’s way. That’s kind of how we play it inside the team, where the engineers are communicating during the race what we want to do. At Sebring in that first stint when I was running third, I wasn’t going to be able to pass anyone so I did my own fuel savings. When I was out front, I did a little bit less to maintain the lead. Depending on where you are on track position, you run it a bit different. We’ve seen already this year how important fuel saving can be; we’ve seen that here and the last couple of years in IndyCar how powerful a fuel-saving stint can be.“Thankfully we have a lot of smart guys in the pitlane who can do a lot of that for us. As a driver, you can do it as well when you’re in traffic. The drivability from the engine and the other work from the engineers during the quarantine period showed big results of performance gains not just in speed but also in efficiency.”