Corvette has modified last year’s GTLM class-winning C8.R car for IMSA’s new GTD Pro division, adding more weight and drag, reducing power, adding anti-lock brakes and replacing bespoke Michelins with customer S9 tires.
However, despite some BoP breaks in the build up to the event, the C8.R proved uncompetitive against purpose-built GT3 cars and was never in contention for a podium spot.
The #3 C8.R driven by Garcia, Nicky Catsburg and Jordan Taylor was Corvette’s highest-placed entry in sixth after losing 13 laps during the night with electrical/alternator issues.
The sister #4 car fared even worse after losing more than two hours to repairs following a safety car restart incident, and eventually coming home 10th.
Corvette stalwart Garcia admitted that the Rolex 24 ended up being an extended test session for the Pratt & Miller-run squad, but was encouraged by the C8.R’s pace in the final parts of the race.
“This was one of those races where you wanted it to be shorter,” said Garcia. “We learned a lot and there is still more for us to learn.
“We had 25 or 26 stints to learn this tire. So it was a proper first real test in race conditions. We were lacking pace both days. There still was a lot to be gained. If you add some extra testing and something else, then maybe we can be in the hunt.
“In the last stint, I could tell we were missing a tiny bit. If we were on the lead lap, it would have taken a tiny bit for us to be competitive. We’ll carry on to Sebring.”
#4 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD: Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, Marco Sorensen
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Corvette ran an additional car in the IMSA opener in a bid to double its chances of defending its Rolex 24 crown, with Nick Tandy, Tommy Milner and Marco Sorensen driving the #4 C8.R that will switch over to the FIA World Endurance Championship. Tandy was disappointed that Corvette’s decision to run two cars failed to pay dividends at Daytona.
“This sort of thing does happen in motor racing. We spent way too much time in the garage today than we expected,” said Tandy.
“We bring two cars to this race for a reason, and that’s to have two shots. To have the luck that strikes both in the middle of the night is tough to take, to be sure.“
While the misfortune that struck both cars came as a major blow to Corvette’s hope of a strong result in the twice-round-the-clock enduro, Milner was particularly frustrated by the poor pace shown by the C8.R on its debut in GTD Pro.
“It’s obviously frustrating to have the problems we did,” he said. “Even so and looking at the ultimate pace, I don’t think we had the car today to race for the win potentially.
“You never know in these kind of races. If you’re there at the end and you’re close, anything can happen.
“That was kind of our goal today and obviously we didn’t achieve that. It’s frustrating from that point of view.”