CORVETTE RACING AT WATKINS GLEN: Garcia, Tandy TranscriptQ&A with Corvette Racing duo ahead of IMSA Watkins Glen rounds
Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Nick Tandy met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Monday ahead of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RWE ARE HEADED TO WATKINS GLEN – A BIG EVENT WITH LOTS OF HISTORY. WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO?“First of all, I am really looking forward to getting back there. That is one of the races we missed last year and I really like it – not just the race track but the whole event as well. As you said, it has been quite a long time since I last won over there. We came quite close in my last appearance there (in 2019). So I’m looking forward to one of my favorite races of the year, for sure.” HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO MISS SUCH AN IMPORTANT RACE FOR A YEAR WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL THERE? IS THERE ACTUALLY SOMETHING TO BE SAID ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES OF SKIPPING A YEAR?“I have really missed that race track. Both the event and the racetrack itself are really, really nice to drive. So to have as many competitors as possible would be even better or even a better race for sure. But as you saw at Detroit, we only need two cars to have a good race. So, I’m sure it is going to be good fun.”
YOU HAVE WON HISTORIC ENDURANCE RACES FROM LE MANS, DAYTONA, SEBRING. WHAT WOULD ANOTHER GLEN WIN MEAN TO YOU IN THE SIX-HOUR RACE?“The Glen is one of my favorite events since I discovered it back in 2006, I think. I really liked it and really wanted to win that race. I think I have only won it once or twice, I can’t remember. But every time I am there, I really like the event. The whole atmosphere with all the race fans around the area is really, really good. So hopefully we have a really good crowd over there. And it is going to be nice during the races this year just to have more and more crowds and get more involvement between us drivers and the fans. I think we are going in the right direction so looking forward to this weekend for sure.”
YOU’VE BEEN IN SPRINT RACES AT WATKINS GLEN AS PART OF GRAND-AM, RIGHT? WITH THE SPRINT RACE NEXT WEEKEND, DO SETUP CHANGES OR ANY ADJUSTMENTS HAPPEN BETWEEN THE SIX HOURS AND THE SPRINT RACE?“There are a few differences. We will run into the night (during the July 2 sprint race). From what I remember, the racetrack seems to change quite a lot during the cool-down of the day and going into dusk. There are a few things we will need to learn because it’s the first time we will have run there at that time. The experience of Corvette Racing will be good enough to help us analyze and anticipate what the car will do. It will be new for us, though, and we need to see how the track develops. It won’t be the same as it will be in the Six Hours. You just need to react to what the track conditions are. Strategies probably will change a tiny bit. But even in the Six Hours, when it comes to the final two hours it’s basically like a sprint race so nothing much will change.”
REFLECTIONS OF RACING AT DETROIT.“I had been waiting to do that for a long time. I have been to Detroit several times, and I always watched the IndyCar race from Belle Isle. I never had a chance to race there – I think only Jordan had raced there (on that layout) – so it was fun to get to know the track. Who knows if we might be racing there again soon or in the future. It’s always good to get to know this track. I was impressed with how different it is than Long Beach, for example. The speeds at Detroit are a little bit higher, and it’s very fun to drive. We only had to fight the other Corvette, but it was still a good fight. It was a good event and good preparation for the summer for Corvette Racing. We needed that to prepare for the normal IMSA season and Le Mans.”
NICK TANDY, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.RWHAT IS IT LIKE TO RACE AT WATKINS GLEN, AND WHAT YOU EXPECT THIS WEEK?“I’m really looking forward to going back to Watkins Glen actually. It is one of these iconic race tracks. The place is so fast, especially in the latest GTLM machinery. It is a real pleasure to drive and is something that I think a lot of us missed last year not going there. Of course, this time we get to race twice there in pretty much a week. The last time I was there we were victorious. It was always a place, and especially in the six-hour, and a race that I had wanted to be successful in for a long time. It was kind of the last of the endurance races that I got to tick off my list. I managed to do that the last time in 2019. So really looking forward to going back to a track that is good fun to drive and good fun to get success at as well.”
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO MISS SUCH AN IMPORTANT RACE FOR A YEAR WHEN YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL THERE? IS THERE ACTUALLY SOMETHING TO BE SAID ABOUT THE DIFFICULTIES OF SKIPPING A YEAR?“From a competition point of view, it isn’t really an issue. I see it more from the sporting point of it that we missed. It is the fact that we did miss out on racing against other great cars on this great circuit. Of course there are people we see at Watkins Glen that we don’t see anywhere else on the IMSA circuit. I think from a purely competitive point of view, missing a year doesn’t affect anything from a sporting side. It just makes us more eager to go back.”
YOU ARE THE DEFENDING GTLM WINNER AT THE GLEN AND THE WINNER IN DETROIT, SO DOES THE CONFIDENCE INCREASE THIS WEEKEND?“Yes (laughing), I guess so. My confidence level is growing all the time with each day I spend with the team and each race I do in the car. We had a great Detroit event for the team with both cars. The cars were competitive. The cars were reliable. The team did a good job and we had a good fight with speed in the race and also strategy. This got us kind of back going into the swing of things going racing. It’s good to know we’ve had that kind of week of practice if you like. As for Watkins Glen…I remember the last time we were there. It basically came down to a fight with my car and this other chap that is next to me in the video in a yellow Corvette! I’m kind of hoping it will come down to that again in the next race, but this time it is the two Corvettes out front fighting it out for the last couple of hours. Yes, it’s just great to think about the fact of going back. Driving a fast car around Watkins Glen, it’s always a pleasure. So we’re looking forward to going back to compete and hopefully bag another win for the No. 4, and if not then for our buddies in the No. 3.”
TALK ABOUT THE TRANSITION INTO CORVETTE RACING SO FAR.“Talking purely technically about the machinery, both cars (the Corvette C8.R and Porsche 911 RSR) are quite similar for a reason. They are made to set of regulations to run with similar power, similar grip and similar aerodynamic ability. This is the whole idea of the class. Past that, there is a different way that I’ve found the cars achieve lap time, and this is something I kind of had to get used to quite a bit. I won’t tell you where the cars are strong and where they’re not (laughing). But yeah, the cars are very similar. There are differences in how you operate functions within the car from a systems point of view. This is all pretty basic stuff that you learn from a manual or a sim session. Finding the last one percent (of performance) is different. One type of car is maybe better in straight-line braking and one type of car is maybe better in the trail-brake phase. Once you kind of get your head around it, it only takes a day or so (to get up to speed). Luckily, we have some great people at Corvette Racing and I have some great teammates to help me out with the best driving style to do this. Past this, the hardest thing for me was to find out my place, how I could integrate into the team, find out what my role as a driver should be, and how I can best make my role as a driver to help the team go forward – and that’s of course not just driving the car. It’s been great, and every time we go to the racetrack it’s been better and better. I feel like when we go racing now, it’s my new family. I look forward to seeing them all.” 
WITH THE SPRINT RACE NEXT WEEKEND, DO SETUP CHANGES OR ANY ADJUSTMENTS HAPPEN BETWEEN THE SIX HOURS AND THE SPRINT RACE?“Like Antonio says, the endurance races typically come down to the last two or three hours anyway – your typical sprint-race length. From a car setup point of view, everything would be pretty similar. From a hardware point of view, the only thing we tend to do is run different brakes if we are in a 12-hour race or longer, but probably in the Six Hours we will run a sprint brake package. So other than the track conditions changing and adapting to that, the cars will be pretty similar.”
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING TO IN THE FUTURE FOR YOURSELF AND OTHER CATEGORIES OF RACING?“I don’t know where GT classes are going at the moment, honestly… whether there will be global GT unification as has been talked before. I don’t think the decision is going to be made any time soon. I don’t know… perhaps other people know more about it than we do. At the end of the day, I’ve always said I wanted to drive the fastest cars possible in the greatest championships with the greatest racing. That changes from year to year, let alone from generation of sports car racing to generation of sports car racing. As to what the cars and classes will be in the future, I don’t know. Given the evolution of the sport, the cars won’t be any slower or any less fun to drive. We all like driving the fastest cars possible with the greatest teams against the greatest competition. For me, that whole ethos has surrounded GTLM and IMSA for the last three or four years. That’s why I’m so happy to still be in this environment.”
REFLECTIONS OF RACING AT DETROIT.“I was pretty shocked, actually. I had seen the racetrack and event on TV, and I had driven the track on simulation software. But I didn’t realize how much fun it would be and how fast the track at Belle Isle actually is. I must admit I really enjoyed the whole event. I got into the whole euphoria around bringing the Corvettes back to Chevrolet’s home base and the release of the new production car that we got to drive across the bridge. I wasn’t sure how we would approach the race weekend before we got there, but when the team said we were treating this like a normal race weekend and it would be good practice for future events, it was good competition and good fun. I enjoyed driving the circuit and I enjoyed the event.”