Corvette hopeful for Road America, expects BMW fightback

David Malsher-Lopez

For this fourth round of the championship, all GT Le Mans-class cars have had their fuel capacity increased – the BMW M8s by 12 liters, the Corvettes by five liters and the Porsche 911 RSRs by three liters – but the BMWs, run by Rahal Letterman Lanigan, have also had their minimum weight cut by 22lbs [10kg] and their power increased by 14hp.

This could throw a high hurdle in the way of Corvette Racing’s hopes to score three IMSA wins on the bounce for the first time since the spring of 2017. Garcia and Taylor won the second round of this season, the Daytona 240, while they finished just behind their victorious teammates Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin two weeks ago in the Cadillac Grand Prix at Sebring.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s 2hr40min race around the undulating 4.014-mile course at Elkhart Lake, WI, Garcia said: “Tire degradation is always a key thing at Road America. This new Corvette should be a little bit better on that compared to the[2014-’19 predecessor] 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.”

Added Taylor: “Road America is definitely a power track, so I think [BMW’s BoP break] will be pretty major when we go there. We saw at the Rolex [24 Hours] 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.”

The former IMSA Prototype champion concurred with his co-driver regarding tire life, pointing out, “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.”

Explaining Corvette’s ‘hot streak’ with the new-for-2020 mid-engined C8.R since the restart of the IMSA season, Garcia stated: “At the Rolex 24 [in January] 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.”

Taylor added: “It’s amazing that we’ve come out so strong after the quarantine period… 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. 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.”