Saturday night’s GTLM victory by Corvette Racing at Daytona International Speedway was one for the books on a number of levels. The triumph by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in the 2h40m contest not only was the first victory for the mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, but it represented the 100th win for the squad in IMSA competition.
Garcia drove nearly two hours to the finish after Taylor put in a challenging opening stint, running slick tires on a damp but drying track. The Spaniard emerged from his final pitstop directly behind Earl Bamber’s Porsche and made the winning pass with 31 minutes left, setting the fastest GTLM lap of the race along the way.
“This means a lot,” said an emotional Garcia. “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 for today. 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 Kyle (Millay, race engineer, (ex-teammate) Jan Magnussen, (retired crew chief) Dan Binks and us coming so close.”
Garcia noted the fuel saving accomplished by both drivers was critical to the breakthrough.
“Jordan did a perfect job on that. He saved one lap in his stint, and I saved one on my first stint,” he said. “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.”
Taylor credited the team’s development since the car’s debut in the Rolex 24 with making that fuel saving possible, among other things.
“I think the off time gave the Corvette Racing guys some decent time to make some headway with our new C8.R,” he said. “Our fuel mileage, engine and drivability at the beginning of the race was much better than the first race. Pit stops were improved as the guys were training through the quarantine once they could get back in the shop. I’m very proud to be here with Antonio for the first win for the C8.R and the 100th win for the team. It is a very special day.”
Garcia agreed, adding, “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.”