IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE
ACURA SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE
PRE-RACE MEDIA AVAILABILITY TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R) met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Monday to discuss the upcoming Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio. Topics included the pairing’s championship lead in GT Le Mans, expectations for Mid-Ohio, preparation for the next two events on the IMSA calendar and other items. FULL TRANSCRIPT:
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
YOU’RE COMING OFF A RUN OF FOUR STRAIGHT TOP-TWO FINISHES AND BACK-TO-BACK WINS AT ROAD AMERICA AND VIR, BUT THINGS DIDN’T GO THE SAME WAY AT ROAD ATLANTA. HOW CAN YOU REGAIN THAT MOMENTUM YOU HAD EARLIER IN THE SUMMER?
“Obviously go faster. That’s the biggest thing. In the last race, we were lacking a little bit of pace. We saw in qualifying that all the cars were separated by only a tenth-of-a-second or two, and that really hurt if you don’t have track position. We led the race for quite a few laps but being back in the pack with about two hours to go wasn’t going to be an easy task to go by the rest of the GTLM cars. Plus on top of that, we had a puncture. When that final yellow came, I thought maybe we had a chance to flip things around but it ended up being a green-white-checker finish anyway. It’s a shame that I wasn’t really in a good position and there were many GTD cars between us and the back of our field. That’s how things go. A few races will go your way and a few others don’t. We have to forget what happened at Road Atlanta, although Corvette Racing did finish second with a strong race from the No. 4 car. We need to carry on while focusing on that while keeping up the fight.”
DOES A SUBSTANTIAL LEAD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP IMPACT YOUR APPROACH TO THIS RACE?
“It’s a mistake to start thinking about the championship this early. We just went to halfway. If someone scores the same amount of points as we did in the previous five or six races, then they will end up winning, mostly likely. We need to carry on and focus race-by-race while still being aggressive. If you plan things a little too conservative, other teams will notice that and take advantage. You end up being that much more vulnerable. You need to carry on and fight for it and let everyone know you are fighting for wins and not just a good position.”
THERE HAS BEEN NO BoP CHANGE FOR THIS WEEK. DO YOU FIND IT FRUSTRATING WHEN YOU’RE BEHIND A CAR THAT HAS A LOT MORE STRAIGHTAWAY SPEED BUT YOU’RE BETTER IN OTHER PARTS OF THE TRACK?
“Road Atlanta showed that it was difficult to either defend from the BMWs or be aggressive and pass them. Mid-Ohio is not any different. There will be a ton of acceleration zones. I don’t know if we will have time enough to place ourselves going into Turn Three or Turn Four. It’s not easy to balance out different cars to a laptime. As you saw, between BMW and our Corvette, we achieve our laptime in different ways. That also creates very good fights with everyone very close. Let’s see if we are all close as we were at Atlanta; a good lap or a bad lap was a difference of two-tenths. We will see if tire degradation is a little more effective and we can make a tiny bit more difference against our competition.”
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE POINTS, YOU HAVE A 14-POINT LEAD BUT EVERYONE ELSE IS SO TIGHT. IF YOU HAVE ANOTHER AVERAGE WEEKEND, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU HAVE 10 DRIVERS WITHIN SIX POINTS. HOW DO YOU VIEW THE CHAMPIONSHIP GOING FORWARD?
“We are still in the position where we are leading. If someone else wants to take risks, it’s not on us. For sure we need to remain aggressive enough to carry on with what we have been doing. We aren’t even close to the last race of the year. Someone could score the same amount of points as we did in the first half of the season. So far we have three wins but I wouldn’t mind one or two more. That would make things way easier.”
DOES WORK ON THE SIMULATOR GIVE YOU A LITTLE MORE COMFORT IN GOING INTO A TRACK LIKE CHARLOTTE WHERE I PRESUME YOU HARDLY HAVE ANY EXPERIENCE OTHER THAN THE TEST?
“It was really good to be able to test there. As Jordan said, the track felt a little like Long Beach for the first five to 10 laps. It was a little stressful with how fast you can go around there and how many walls you could fly by and come very, very close. Once you get into a rhythm, it’s just another racetrack. With traffic, it will be very tricky. I anticipate there will be a ton of mistakes and probably more yellows than usual. There is no room for error at certain points. Tire degradation probably is another key thing there. We also are running into the night, and we were able to run at night during the test, and it wasn’t easy. The infield was almost completely dark and wasn’t easy. It will be a question mark for everyone. I hope the preparation we did during that day and after that is enough to be competitive.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HAVE A RACE LIKE THIS INSERTED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP STRETCH RUN?
“You just need to carry on as it is. It’s like having a 12-hour race as the last race. Sebring won’t be like a usual Sebring 12 Hours where it’s just the second race of the year. This year, some races have taken place at different dates. We just need to adapt and race according to that.”
WITH THE SEASON BEING HALFWAY, WHERE CAN YOU IMPROVE DESPITE THE SUCCESS OF EARLIER THIS SUMMER?
“I think I always have areas to improve on during the season, like being on cold tires in this new car. As drivers at Corvette Racing, we always try to improve. There is always a big point to analyze all the data we have available each time we finish a race to try to improve. Even if you win a lot as we did this year, you can still do things better and that’s the focus of the upcoming races. We need to be as prepared as possible because the rest of the field will be doing the same.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
YOU HAVE A PRETTY SIZABLE LEAD IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP BUT QUITE A NUMBER OF RACES TO GO. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ATTACK THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON STARTING THIS WEEKEND AT MID-OHIO?
“So far, so good. The points gap is decently big, but it’s never big enough. Our season has 11 races, and we’re just past the halfway point. There are five races to go, and lot can happen – good and bad. We will go at it the same way we have been going at it all year, and that’s race-by-race and maximizing our efforts at each event. If you look at races like VIR or Road America, we didn’t have the quickest car and were racing for podium positions. We stuck to our program and those led to wins. We’re taking those as they come, and that will be the way we look at it the rest of the season. It’s been a great year so far with the Corvette C8.R in its first year. We’re going to go to some new tracks where it hasn’t tested, so it will be interesting.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT MID-OHIO?
“Well I haven’t won there yet, so I’m not too sure! It is a tough track to pass on, so track position is a big deal. It’s been awhile since I’ve raced there in a GT car, but traffic is always a big part of it there, especially when you get to the back side of the track. I’ve been watching a lot of last year’s race and the year before that. It looks tricky in a GTLM car. If you’re stuck behind a GTD car off the backstraight, you could be stuck there all the way to the frontstretch. Strategy-wise, staying out front is going to be a big part of it. Tire wear isn’t usually a huge thing there, but tire warm-up is usually pretty key. So there are lots of little details, but staying out of trouble is a big one. Hopefully we can start out the weekend strong in qualifying to start out with good track position and go from there.”
PORSCHE HAS BEEN AWFULLY STRONG AT MID-OHIO. THEIR CAR CHANGES DIRECTION REALLY WELL AND WORKS REALLY WELL THROUGH THE TWISTY PARTS. WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN WITH THE C8.R IN TERMS OF THOSE TYPES OF CORNERS AND HOW YOU CAN COMPETE WITH THEM THERE?
“. In talking with our guys about the strengths and weaknesses of the old car, we know how much more user-friendly the C8.R is in especially battling other cars, and the raceability of it when you get into traffic and when you have a long run on the tires. Overall the C8.R a much better package at a lot of tracks so far. Porsche obviously has been strong at Mid-Ohio in the past. It’s always been interesting weather-wise at Mid-Ohio; there’s always rain at some point on the weekend. It should be good. We did some good testing at the sim last week for two days, so I think that gives us a good lea-in to the weekend.”
LOOKING AT THE TRACKS LEFT ON THE SCHEDULE, YOU TESTED AT CHARLOTTE. HAVE YOU TESTED AT MID-OHIO OR LAGUNA SECA?
“I have not, and the car hasn’t been tested there either. We did do the day at the Charlotte Roval. Laguna and the Roval will be interesting. The Charlotte track was pretty unique and surprising to a lot of guys with the characteristics of the track. It’ll definitely be interesting when we go back with a full field of GT cars. By the end of the day, it was a fun track to drive on so I think it will be a fun weekend.”
CAN YOU PASS THERE?
“It will be tough. It’s a lot narrower than it seems on TV. We had a couple other cars that were there for the test. When you were around someone else, it seemed like those cars took up a lot of the track. It could be tough to pass, but at least we will have another class there to mix it up.”
WITH THE SERIES SLOWING DOWN THE GTD CARS AND CREATE SOME SEPARATION BETWEEN GTLM AND GTD POWER-WISE, DID YOU NOTICE IF THERE WAS ENOUGH ROOM TO SQUIRT BY IN SOME OF THE AREAS?
“I didn’t notice. Coming from prototype, it still needs to be a lot more (of a separation) just to make it easier. I remember racing around them in a prototype and thinking about how much of handful it looked like to pass a GTD car. It’s proving to be that way this year. It can be frustrating when you come up on one of the pro drivers in one who can drive well through the corners and has ABS. It makes it pretty difficult to pass.”
FOLLOWING UP ON THE CHARLOTTE TEST, WHAT SURPRISED YOU AND WHAT WERE YOU IMPRESSED BY?
“I had tested there in 2017 when we were doing our endurance testing for the Cadillac prototype. Back then, it was more like a makeshift infield. Since then, the track has obviously upped it to what the Roval is now for NASCAR. It definitely was different than what I remembered, and the flow was different. A lot of it on the infield feels like a street course with a lot of walls and not a lot of room for error. That’s a lot different compared to Daytona where you have some grass and exit curbs, whereas at Charlotte some of the apexes and exit curbs are concrete walls. Learning the track was pretty stressful because there are some bumps in odd places and the flow feels a bit funny. The chicanes with the big blue curbs… we can’t really touch those. One of the other cars there in testing crashed twice just from clipping the blue curbs. Definitely there will be some attrition.”
IN A SEASON WITHOUT STREET COURSES, IS THIS THE CLOSEST THING YOU’LL HAVE TO ONE?
“Maybe. It’s definitely going to be one of the tougher races. We were lucky to test there, and I’m sure a lot of other teams won’t be able to. We’ll have some of the GTD amateurs trying to learn the track on a race weekend with a tight schedule. There could definitely be some yellows. Coming up a lapping some of those guys who may not know the track as well could make it pretty interesting.”
RACERS ARE USUALLY CREATURES OF HABIT. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO HAVE A ONE-OFF INSERTED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP STRETCH RUN?
“I think it’s cool. It definitely keeps everyone on their toes. It suits the team well. Corvette Racing operates at a pretty high level and can prepare for something like this pretty quickly. We tested there on Wednesday, and our guys from the Chevrolet simulator were there that day. They took pictures of the first chicane where there was a change made from a couple years ago on the NASCAR track. The next day, they had already updated the track in the simulator for the changes to the exit curbs. It was really impressive to see that happen overnight. That’s a big strength of Corvette Racing and Chevrolet where they have these tools we can use to help prepare us better than a lot of the other teams.”
WITH THE SEASON BEING HALFWAY, WHERE CAN YOU IMPROVE DESPITE THE SUCCESS OF EARLIER THIS SUMMER, ESPECIALLY TRANSITIONING FROM PROTOTYPES TO THE NEW CORVETTE?
“There’s definitely a lot to learn and improve on. Atlanta wasn’t easy. Each track you go to will have a different level of difficulty. If this was last year, you would have twice as much practice. This year is pretty limited. Understanding all that and maximizing the new tire and how to make it last over a stint… there isn’t a lot of time to practice that at each event. Each track has different variables. Some don’t have any tire degradation, some wear the front tires more and some wear the rears more. It’s definitely tricky. But having good guys like Antonio and the rest of Corvette Racing to bounce questions off of and learn from has been a big help. Each track we go to is a new experience. When we come back around to Atlanta and Sebring, it will be nice to go back to those places with some experience.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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