IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIPDAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAYROLEX 24 AT DAYTONANO. 3 CORVETTE C8.R MEDIA AVAILABILITY TRANSCRIPT

ANUARY 11, 2022
Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg – teammates in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R – met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Tuesday to discuss the team’s entry into the new GTD PRO class for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the transitions to a new spec of the Corvette C8.R, the outlook for the 2022 Rolex 24 At Daytona and other topics. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RHOW BIG OF AN ADJUSTMENT TRANSITIONING TO GTD PRO?“Adding ABS is the biggest change for us. IMSA and Corvette Racing are doing a good job of adjusting a GTLM car into a GTD car. There has been a lot of work together to put together all the data and get our Corvette to the GT3 spec. The biggest difference is the tire for this year. We will have to adapt to that. A lot of the speed differences in previous years were due to the confidential tire to the customer tire, basically.”
WHAT’S MOST APPEALING ABOUT THE NEW CLASS AFTER BASICALLY RACING YOURSELVES LAST YEAR?“It’s obviously good race against another 12 or 13 cars. When there are so few cars, strategy can go away a little bit. But now you have to pay attention to those who may not be in contention but can gamble big on strategy to come up to the front toward the end of the race. There are a lot of strategies to play there, and that’s where our engineers will be a really good tool to have. We’re very good at that. Who knows… with two Corvettes, we can split strategies like we did last year. It’s going to be tougher but it’s not the first time we have competed against a lot of cars.”
THERE ARE NOW TWO CLASSES – GTD PRO AND GTD – THAT RUN WITH IDENTICAL EQUIPMENT ON IDENTICAL TIRES. HOW WILL THAT DYNAMIC PLAY OUT?“It will be interesting, for sure. I’m not used to that, and knowing we aren’t racing for the same result will be different. There could be a point where a GTD car is leading the GT field and end up winning the race. It will be strange for most of us. I don’t know if they are planning to split the classes in the pit stops or something. For sure, there will be a lot of play out. If you are leading, you’re going to want to have a ton of GTDs between you and the next PRO car. It’s going to be difficult to play out, especially on strategy. If you decide to stop at the same time and you end up all the way at the back of the GTD field, it will make things even tougher. We don’t know how it will play out.”
REVIEWING LAST YEAR’S FINISH AND POSITIVE COVID TEST. IS THERE A RISK OF RUNNING JUST A THREE-DRIVER LINEUP?“It’s going to be tough for sure. The good thing about it being that late in the race, Nicky and Jordan could finish with no problem. I suspect that is what everyone is thinking. We definitely need to stay COVID-free for the next two or three weeks.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED TO LEARN NICK TANDY WAS JOINING THE TEAM FOR LAST YEAR? WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HIM WHILE HE WAS WITH PORSCHE AND ALSO SO FAR WITH HIM BEING WITH THE TEAM?“I raced against Nick for many years in different cars which at times made things a little bit not easy, but easier. There would be races when he would be more competitive than us or the other way around. But we kind of always found ourselves together many, many times fighting for the win. But now with Nick being in the same car makes things a little bit different in that all the advantages you had in the past, now he has them too. So it was the difference between us would be even smaller and it is trickier to find a weak point to be ahead. The addition of him on the team was great because it just gave us a ton more information and feedback. That brought the whole Corvette team further up. It also made us – Jordan, Nicky and myself – have to be even stronger if we wanted to beat them. I think overall it made Corvette Racing stronger which is the main thing.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RON THE SIZE OF GTD PRO FIELD FOR ROLEX 24.“It’s super exciting. The last couple of years, the field was getting smaller and smaller in GTLM. Now with IMSA moving to GTD PRO, we’re very excited. In moving to a new class, there is going to be a lot to learn for us with our car and converting it over to the spec. But if anyone is up to the task, it’s Corvette Racing. We did a couple of days testing last year after Petit Le Mans with the car to get a better understanding of the tire, ABS and what we have to run this year. We’re also spending lots of time in the simulator as well. We’re all looking forward to it. It’s going to have the competition with lots of manufacturers in the class. Thirteen cars in the class… every one of those cars I’ve seen so far can win the race. It definitely will be a big battle. At the end of the day it’s still a 24-hour race. I’m sure with a lot of those drivers and teams, they’re going to want to lead a lot and throughout the night. We just need to rely on our history and experience and knowing that we need to be there at the end just like last year. The fight comes down to the last couple of hours. We need to get through the night with a strong, safe car and go for the win at the end.”
WHAT’S MOST APPEALING ABOUT THE NEW CLASS AFTER BASICALLY RACING YOURSELVES LAST YEAR?“We’re looking forward to the competition. The last couple of years, we were mainly racing our teammates. BMW and Porsche were there, but when you get down to racing just your teammate, those are the toughest guys to race. They have similar equipment and the same tools as you, plus they’re great drivers. You know they’re going to get the most out of it. You also don’t want to make any mistakes rub them. I’m looking forward to having 13 cars to battle. I’ve missed battling on starts and restarts, the strategy wars… that’s my biggest thing. I missed the actual racing side of what we had in the past.” IN BASIC TERMS, WHAT ARE THE CHANGES YOU’VE MADE TO THE CAR TO BRING IT INTO THE GT3 WINDOW?“The biggest things are the ABS and customer tires. There are a lot of little details that IMSA is making us do to get the C8.R closer. The car wasn’t designed for the class so they’re trying to make it as even as possible. The biggest aspect is understanding the way the tire works. The team has spent so many years with Michelin to develop the confidential tire to work properly for our car. Now we’re moving to a tire that will work for a front-engine, mid-engine and rear-engine car. Understanding how the way that works and maximizing it for not just one lap but for over a stint will be a huge thing to learn. ABS is another thing to understand the brake wear with that system. It’s good to have someone like Nicky who has so much GT3 experience who can lend a hand for Antonio and I who don’t have as much experience as he does in this type of car to understand what it’s supposed to feel like and how we make the most of that. There will be a lot of learning. Antonio and I spent two days in the car at VIR after Petit Le Mans last year to get a feel for things. I’m sure the Corvette Racing guys went back, studied all the data and made their developments. There have been other drivers in the sim developing those items that we were working on since then. I think we’ll have a good package for Daytona.”
HOW DID IT FEEL TO DRIVE?“It still felt just like a Corvette, which is nice. The C8.R has been really successful since it came out with the mid-engine layout. The biggest thing was understanding how the way the tire worked, the window that it works in, how you use it, how much you can slide it, the temperature window that it works in. Those little details are good to understand. The tire degradation is going to be a different aspect for us. The ABS was different – just maximizing it in how much pressure to use, how consistent you can be if you’re pushing the brake pedal too hard. Little details like that were good to get a feel for last year before we go to the Roar where most of the work is for the Rolex and not really for car development or driver development.”
CORVETTE RACING EXPERIMENTED WITH ABS AT DETROIT LAST YEAR. HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU HAVE NOW?“It’s the same system but there have been more development since then. Detroit was an experiment for Antonio and me to get a feel for it, plus Nick (Tandy) and Tommy (Milner). That was a unique event for us where we didn’t have any competition and were free to do it. So we chose to get some miles on the car with it, see how we felt and see what kind of feedback we could give the team to develop it. We took that to the simulator and the VIR test, where we did some more developments to increase the capability of the system. It helped to get a little bit of a head start during the season last year, and I think we’ll still be learning and developing it through the Roar and Rolex.”
HOW MUCH HAS THE SIM HELPED WITH DEVELOPMENT OF THE ABS AND LEARNING THE NEW MICHELIN CUSTOMER TIRE?“The drivers were probably spoiled with how good the GTLM tires could be! But at the same time it created a lot of stress during a weekend on what tire to use, when to use it, what the other car is going to do and what the other teams were going to do. Now everyone is on the same playing field. I have a big trust in the team that we are going to maximize the tire’s capability. We have a lot of smart people that can do that. I have a lot of confidence going to that spec tire that our team will do a great job with it. We work with Michelin a lot with our simulator to get a better understanding of it.”
HOW MUCH TIME ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND SORTING OUT WHO IS WHO? WHAT CARS ARE GTD PRO, AND WHAT CARS ARE GTD AM?“We know Andy Lally won’t be letting anyone by. Other than that, we all keep track of what races are going on where and we know drivers pretty well… who to look out for, who we can trust on track and who we have to be more careful around. But there are a lot of different color cars coming and a lot of different manufacturers. I’ll definitely be studying before and during the weekend to see who’s who. Our guys usually make notes on drivers on-track of who to look out for so when we do get in the race, they will say to us we are coming up on the 18 car with this driver, be careful of them. They do a good job of helping us with that. They keep us out of trouble as much as possible. It’s the same thing with Prototypes when they are going by with who is in what car so we know who to leave a little more of a gap to than other guys.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED TO LEARN NICK TANDY WAS JOINING THE TEAM FOR LAST YEAR? WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT HIM WHILE HE WAS WITH PORSCHE AND ALSO SO FAR WITH HIM BEING WITH THE TEAM?“I didn’t so a whole lot of racing against him over the years. We were always in a different class. But obviously I knew a lot about him before he came in and knew he would be a huge asset to the team and a huge competitor to Antonio and I for the championship, especially when it was mostly down to our two cars to win the championship. But it is always interesting to have someone new come in to the team especially with that much experience and success to see how they operate when you are so close to them and see how they work. He is definitely a hard worker. You always hear rumors about different drivers, but seeing him in person you understand why he is as strong as he is. He is always working… looking at data, looking at video trying to find every little bit which made us do the same thing last year. Like Antonio said, we had the same equipment and we were trying to find an advantage on everyone else. I looked at more data and video last year than I probably ever had trying to find little advantages in qualifying and the races to see where we could make it up. I think having guys like that elevates everyone’s game.”
IS IT MORE FUN TO HAVE A BIGGER FIELD, MORE CARS OUT THERE?“I think it is more fun to have a high grid count with quality cars. I think it becomes more difficult when you get some filler cars with lesser drivers and teams. It makes it difficult when you have some drivers who aren’t as experienced on the track in such a high-profile event, especially when we are going to have such a competitive field in our class. Say we come through in the middle of the night with 13 GTD PRO cars and you come up on someone with lesser experience who doesn’t know how to get out of the way. It can cause a lot of confusion on-track and incidents. We do have a big, quality field with all the GTD Pro cars. They all have amazing lineups and teams. I haven’t looked too hard into the Pro-Am categories. But as Nicky said earlier, we are here to put on a show for fans as well and that creates entertainment. Sometimes you need that in a race. Sometimes you need someone slower to hold up another guy to make a pass. That creates a little more opportunity. We’re all looking forward to it. The offseason has been pretty short but at the same time it seems too long. We are all excited to get back to the track and back to racing.”                                                                                                  NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RHOW IS IT COMING BACK TO DAYTONA AS DEFENDING RACE WINNER?“It’s not going to be easy, it seems. Like it has been said, the field is so big. There are lots more cars and not just in GTD PRO but also all the other GTDs creating one big class so we’re all driving against each other with similar speed. It will be very exciting and way more difficult to win it than last year. So let’s see. I’m excited to go again. It feels super good to already have one watch on my wrist, but let’s try to add a second one.”
WHAT’S MOST APPEALING ABOUT THE NEW CLASS AFTER BASICALLY RACING YOURSELVES LAST YEAR?“It’s nice to have a bigger class just to have more actual racing and overtaking. In Europe, we have a couple of very big GT3 races, and I think this one is heading in that direction in terms of very big GT3 fields. It’s also a very nice thing to see for the spectators. It should be a very cool race.”
THERE ARE NOW TWO CLASSES – GTD PRO AND GTD – THAT RUN WITH IDENTICAL EQUIPMENT ON IDENTICAL TIRES. HOW WILL THAT DYNAMIC PLAY OUT?“For me, it reminds me of what we have in Europe where you have a Pro-Am class. That makes it quite difficult because it’s hard to always know who is in the car at that time. It always feels like it is one big class together. Everyone will fight each other, so I think that is what we will see in the race. I wish that some of the Pro-Am cars in Europe sometimes would just let you pass since we are racing our own race anyway. But unfortunately it doesn’t work like that there and I don’t think it will work like that in Daytona. So I think it’s going to be a big mess but also an amazing show.”
LOOKING AT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS CAR INTO THE GT3 PLATFORM, YOU ARE THE ONE WITH EXPERIENCE WITH ABS AND THE OTHER DIFFERENT ELEMENTS, DO YOU FEEL MORE PRESSURE THIS YEAR?“No. Not really. I did some driving after Petit Le Mans with the car already with ABS and honestly it felt quite good straightaway. Of course, we have to do some work, but I think some of these packages in terms of hardware have been tested so much over in Europe already. I don’t think it will take so long to get so competitive. I think some of that kind of stress is already away. Of course, there are some details that need to be tweaked. But I don’t feel too much more pressure. Maybe I can give a little bit more input than before and that feels nice. But other than that, the team is full of really smart guys so they don’t really have to depend on me for that.”
YOU’VE MENTIONED THAT THE COMPETITION BETWEEN THE GTD PRO AND THE GTD AM IS GOING TO BE MUCH TIGHTER. HOW DO YOU SEE THAT PANNING OUT DURING THE COURSE OF THE RACE WITH THE DPI CARS COMING THROUGH? WILL IT BE MORE DISTRACTING AND WILL YOU BE IN RACES AROUND YOU AND THEY WILL HAVE A SLIGHTLY HARDER TIME GETTING AROUND YOU?“Yes, I definitely think so. There are simply more cars to get around. For us to get around the GTDs – which are effectively in a different class but a similar speed – it is going to make for a lot of fighting on-track and we are going to side-by-side with DPis also wanting to pass. In the past with GTLM, the differences were bigger so it was easier to pass or to just say I’m going to wait on this opportunity and I’ll take the next one. Now I think it is going to be more do-or-die sometimes, and I think it is really important for us to contain ourselves and wait until the end of the race. But I think it is going to make for a lot of fights on-track and a lot of action on TV.”

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