GTLM championship program closes out first year with mid-engine Corvette C8.R
SEBRING, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2020) – Corvette Racing endured a tough close to its championship-winning season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, but it ended 2020 with a tremendous level of success in the first year of the mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
A pair of suspension issues relegated the two Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C8.Rs to fifth- and sixth-place finishes in the final race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It didn’t take anything away from the program’s achievement of sweeping the full-season GT Le Mans (GTLM) class championships: Manufacturers title for Chevrolet, Drivers Championship for Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, and Team title for the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
Corvette Racing ended the season with six wins, seven pole positions and six fastest GTLM race laps, including Nicky Catsburg on Saturday in the No. 3 Corvette.
In addition, the No. 4 Corvette C8.R pairing of Oliver Gavin – who made his final start as a full-season Corvette Racing competitor – and Tommy Milner finished third in the final GTLM Drivers points standings.
Both Corvettes showed good pace early in the 12 Hours before misfortune struck the No. 4 C8.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler. A water leak in the third hour set back Gavin – making his final full-season start with the team – by six laps. Things didn’t improve with a suspension issue just past the halfway mark that sent the No. 4 Corvette back to the garage with damage. But instead of giving up, the No. 4 team worked quickly to replace the damaged components and had the car back on-track with 3:30 to go.
For most of the day, it looked like the No. 3 Corvette of Garcia, Taylor and Catsburg was the car to beat in class. Garcia began from pole position, and the C8.R led seven times. The No. 3 team came back from fifth near the four-hour mark and to the lead within the next hour thanks to some solid laps, a great pitstop and some luck with a full-course yellow with about three hours to go.
Garcia was running second when he experienced a problem at the left-rear of the Corvette in a similar spot as the No. 4 C8.R’s issues. The Corvette Racing crew did its homework, however, and had Garcia back in the race after just 15 minutes following repairs in its garage.
Corvette Racing will open its 2021 season with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 30-31.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTLM: “It’s a shame we couldn’t finish the year on a high, especially at such a big event like Sebring. We were fighting hard until we had our suspension issue. Definitely we were hunting for the win. It happens. It’s a shame both our cars had similar issues. Still, it’s the first year for the C8.R and there is still a learning curve. We will learn from all the races we’ve done – the races we’ve won and for sure the ones where we had some issues. It’s never easy to have a perfect race every weekend, so every event is a chance to learn. We were fighting for the win, which was the main thing. It was a hard race for everyone, but that is Sebring. This makes me want to get back to Daytona even stronger than how we ended.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTLM: “If you look at the event itself, it obviously was a disappointment. But for Antonio and me, coming in crowned champions beforehand, this gave us some freedom to push the car to its limits. We made it through the Rolex 24 with no issues, but Sebring is a different animal. You’re always going to get tested here. It was the first time at the 12 Hours with this C8.R. Obviously, we would have liked to have a little bit more success but we proved the car was competitive. We had the fastest lap of the race and were strong in both day and night. We have a good understanding of where the car is competitive, but these things happen with new cars. To win the championship, win six times and get seven pole positions as a team with a brand new racecar says so much about Corvette Racing and the preparation and development of this C8.R. I’m honored to be a part of it and definitely it’s one of the greatest years I’ll ever have in my career. We made a lot of great memories, and I’m happy to share them all with my teammates.”
NICKY CATSBURG, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTLM: “This was a very tough race, as Sebring always is. We definitely had a shot at the win today before our suspension problem. Before that, the C8.R was so fast and it looked like things would go our way. As we saw with a lot of cars today, that doesn’t always happen at this track. But we can take a lot from this weekend and put it toward next season and the second year with the Corvette. I had a lot of fun driving this car and with this team for the first time. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Corvette Racing.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SIXTH IN GTLM: “The weekend has been emotional, and it was always going to be. That’s one of the reasons I wanted my wife Helen here. I knew I was going to struggle somewhat with it without her being here to support. Yesterday was very nice… Jim Campbell, Gary Pratt, Doug Fehan and Ben Johnson said some very nice words with all the team – j st to spend a moment with them and thank them for what’s been an amazing 19 years was special. There has been so much success, so much positivity, great feelings and friendships. I felt very honored that I could share that moment with them. I tried to say some words, and I was quite emotional and only got some of them out! But I think I got the message across – that I’m deeply appreciative of everything that everyone has done at Corvette Racing and Team Chevy collectively. It has been an unbelievable 19 years. I was very grateful to be able to thank the people that have done the most for me over these 19 years. It was really fantastic.”
ON THE RACE: “The race today showed a lot of promise. Almost right from the start, we weren’t quite there with the car. The guys worked to figure some stuff out, and we got better. It looked like we were in the hunt and had pace. When we lost all the water out of the radiator, it was a pretty big setback. We did what we could to get some laps back and then had the left-rear suspension problem. It was one of the moments that you don’t expect but you realize it’s going to happen at some point as a racing driver. But once again, Corvette Racing did a great job to get the car back together, everything going and us back out on the track as fast as they possibly could. It’s a testament to how they’re trained and how they work. It’s great to see. It gives me an immense amount of pride to watch them operate. Both crews had their moments of adversity, but not once did anyone complain or kick back; they all just dove straight in to get the cars back out. That’s what Corvette Racing is about. It’s what has won us a lot of races and championships, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SIXTH IN GTLM: “It’s not the race result we wanted to end the season, for sure, but I’m happy Olly and I got third in the championship. We hoped to be able to challenge for the win. If things had progressed like we expected, we would have been able to. But that’s what happens at Sebring and why it’s so tough. It was great to let Olly have some fun in his last two stints. I’m proud of what we have accomplished as teammates, and I’ve been lucky to drive with him for such a long time. He’s been a big part of my career and we’ll miss having him around. Like anything with a new car, we have learned a lot as time has gone on. I’m proud of what Corvette Racing has been able to achieve this year. We’ve been really fast with this new C8.R, and I’m excited for the future with this Corvette.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED SIXTH IN GTLM: “That was a tough one to swallow. We had issues quite early with the water leak that put us five laps down. It was difficult to get those laps back. We tried a lot, and the team was never giving up. The suspension problem really put us out of the game. It was hard for me to do this race with Corvette. It was a great opportunity to drive here with Corvette Racing. It’s like a family to me, and I really enjoyed being with the team.”
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