Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

Corvette Set for First Single-Car IMSA Entry Since 2000

Pratt & Miller-run squad still coming to grips with tire, new GTD configuration…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Corvette Racing will have a “new challenge” in running as a single-car operation for the first time in IMSA competition in more than 20 years, although its drivers admit they’re still more focused on coming to grips with the GTD spec of the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

The Pratt & Miller-run factory squad will enter a solo Corvette C8.R in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with its resources split this year between single-car efforts in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship.

With Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy in the team’s WEC GTE-Pro entry this weekend, Nicky Catsburg will team up with reigning GTLM class champions Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in the WeatherTech Championship season-long No. 3 entry in GTD Pro.

The team ran two GTD Pro cars in January’s season-opener at Daytona although is expected to remain a single-car team for the majority of the remaining WeatherTech Championship rounds this year.

Nonetheless, Sebring will mark the first time since the 2000 American Le Mans Series season — the program’s second year — that the team has run only one car in a race stateside.

Ironically, Corvette’s last IMSA race as a solo effort, the Grand Prix of Texas, marked the program’s first win with Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim at the wheel of the No. 3 Corvette C5-R.

“I don’t think the approach changes for Sebring much,” Catsburg admitted. “We unfortunately will have half the information we usually have.

“In practices with two cars, you can run one car on one level of downforce, different tire pressures and others to learn quickly.

“It will be a new challenge for the team but we won’t have to change the approach but it will be different.”

Catsburg, Garcia and Taylor are coming off a sixth place class finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, prior to a two-day test at Sebring International Raceway.

It was there where the team dedicated “significant time” on further understanding the performance and degradation levels of Michelin’s GTD Pro/GTD class-wide S9M commercial tire.

“Sebring gives us a chance to regroup after what was a tough race at Daytona,” said Taylor. “We learned a lot there that carried over into some testing a few weeks ago.

“There still is a lot we are working to understand, but the biggest thing continues to be the Michelin tires.

“This will be a critical area at every race in IMSA.

“Corvette Racing is always at the top when it comes to engineering and execution so there’s not a group I’d rather have to work with through these challenges.

“I’m confident we will be just fine at Sebring.”

In addition to still coming to grips with the tire, this year’s GTD-spec Corvette is 60 kg (132 pounds) heavier than it was in GTLM trim at Sebring last year.

Additionally, the airflow has been reduced by 15 percent.

Garcia, meanwhile, believes that the team’s knowledge and previous success at the 3.7-mile airfield circuit will pay dividends, despite the car’s different configuration.

“We have had many really good and fun races there over the years,” he said.

“Much of that comes down to how often Corvette Racing tests and prepares at Sebring each year.

“We know just about every bump and curb around the track.

“That knowledge helps when there is so much new in our Corvette that we are still learning.

“We made some good progress during our recent test there so let’s see where we can arrive for the first session.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

Click to comment

More in WeatherTech Championship