Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg have admitted they will need to take a more cautious approach to this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with the introduction of LMP3 and some lesser-experienced drivers in both the new-for-2021 class and other Pro-Am categories.
The defending GTLM championship-winning team returns to the all-factory class as the only full-season entrants other than privateers WeatherTech Racing, although a total of six cars — including two partial-season Team RLL BMW M8 GTE entries — are set to do battle in this weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.
With a 49-car field, and 36 of them being in Pro-Am classes, Taylor said it will require them to take a different approach compared to recent years.
“I think this year, especially with all of the new cars and new classes, it’s definitely going to change the game a bit with how much you have to be careful and cautious through the night with some new drivers and new cars,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s the same style of racing where you have to survive to the end but I think it’s going to be a little bit extra this year in making sure you get to the end of the race with a very strong car and a fast car.”
Catsburg, who made his factory Corvette debut in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R at Daytona in 2020, said last weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 went better than expected when dealing with the LMP3 machinery.
“I was expecting it to be very, very difficult but then it turned out not to be,” Catsburg said.
“I still feel it will be more difficult than other years. They seem to be doing exactly the same speed, and not in any particular sector, we’re pretty much the same speed everywhere.
“It means every restart, we’re behind the LMP3s. It will get intense.
“Like Jordan mentioned, I think we’ll have to be a bit more careful than in previous years and really try to make it to the end. There will be a lot of action I think.”
Catsburg believes both restarts and the night-time hours, which covers more than half of the race, will be areas of extra caution that must be taken by all drivers.
“I definitely think restarts and maybe in the night, some of the LMP3 drivers might be even new to night racing,” he said. “Going out on cold tires for some of those guys is very difficult, just like it is for us.
“I think we really have to take care of that and make it until the last hours until we really start pushing.”
Taylor, Catsburg and co-driver Antonio Garcia will start Saturday’s race from the outside of the front row in GTLM, alongside their pole-winning teammates of Nick Tandy, Alexander Sims and Tommy Milner.