Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor credited fuel saving runs as a major key to Corvette Racing’s 100th IMSA victory and the first win for the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
The duo claimed the historic class win Saturday in IMSA’s return to racing at Daytona International Speedway, following a hard-fought Fourth of July battle in the GT Le Mans class.
While having locked out the front row in qualifying, the Pratt & Miller-run squad, featuring several new crew members since January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, shifted its strategy into a two-stop race, resulting in Garcia and Taylor going on fuel-saving runs.
It paid off when Garcia managed to pass the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Earl Bamber for the eventual class lead and win with less than 40 minutes remaining to go in the caution-free race.
“It was very, very tough,” Garcia said. “I went out on a green stop and on cold tires and we didn’t have the track position.
“I had Tommy [Milner] and and Earl [Bamber] going by very quickly.
“I struggled quite a bit to put the temperature on my Michelins and once I kept going it was a question mark of what would have been the pace of the 3 car today.
“But as soon as I realized that I was starting to catch them and our fuel numbers look very well too…
“The 3 car engineers and everybody behind the 3 car knew or spotted very early about how close we would have been with fuel and how early we should start working on that.
“It worked just perfect. Jordan did a really good job; he saved a lot there and I was able to save another [lap].”
Garcia explained the scope of the race, which saw all six cars in the class lead at various stages, became clear after the final round of pit stops.
“I was saving quite a lot of fuel and we didn’t know about the 912 so we don’t know if they could have made it and if we were fighting the 911 car [for the win],” he said.
“We saw the 4 car pitting and we were also expecting the Porsche to follow them and we came [in] together in the pits, so from that point we realized he would it was a fight between us.
“As soon as I had an opportunity, especially in the first half of the stint, where were our tires were really good early, I took advantage of that position and after that I worked my way through traffic very well.”
Taylor, who earned his first win as a full-time Corvette driver, took the start of the race under challenging conditions.
“I think the race is all down to execution, not making mistakes with it being green and the guys reading the strategy very well from the beginning knowing that was gonna be a fuel race,” he said.
“They had us saving fuel from the start.
“It was a perfect day and obviously very special to get the first one for the C8.R and extra special to get it here at Daytona and to get the 100th win for Corvette Racing [in IMSA] and my first win as a full-time teammate with Antonio.”
The win for Corvette Racing snapped a 1,042-day winless drought dating back to Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin’s class win at Long Beach in 2018, while Garcia hadn’t been to victory lane in nearly three years.
“I think we deserved this moment,” Garcia added. “We came up just short so many times even though we won championships.
“All I could think about when I went across the line was remembering about Kyle [Millay, race engineer, ex-teammate] Jan Magnussen and us coming so close.
“It’s the first win for the Corvette C8.R, 100th in IMSA for Corvette Racing and the first victory with Jordan. This is huge.”
Taylor: Return Visit to Daytona Helped C8.R’s Development Cycle
Returning to Daytona, five months after the car’s competition debut, helped the development cycle of the mid-engined Corvette, according to Taylor.
“If we went to Sebring we would have definitely been learning a lot more there,” he said.
“We at least had a two-day test here in November, three days at the Roar, and a 24-hour race, so obviously we had a lot of information and data to look through.
“We were able to go to the simulator late in the quarantine break when it was reopened. We did have a lot going into this one.
“Having the win here, seeing how strong it was compared to where we where we were at the Rolex  speaks volumes of the team and in the developments they made.
“I think it bodes very well for the rest of the year.”