Jordan Taylor says earning an IMSA GT championship had been a “missing point” in his career until this year’s title-winning season with Corvette Racing.
Taylor is set to become a three-time IMSA champion after clinching the GT Le Mans drivers’ title alongside Antonio Garcia following last weekend’s penultimate round of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season at Laguna Seca.
The duo, who have claimed five class victories in their No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, hold an insurmountable 35-point lead over teammates Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin heading into the season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with both drivers needing to only log the minimum drive time in order to share the title.
While having recently achieved success in the prototype ranks, with a Grand-Am DP title in 2013 and WeatherTech Championship Prototype championship in 2017 — both for his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing operation — Jordan said earning a GT championship had eluded him after spending several seasons in the production-based ranks in a Chevrolet Camaro GT.R.
Taylor held one previous GT title to his credit prior to this year, having won the five-round Pirelli World Challenge GT3 SprintX championship in 2017 with Cadillac Racing.
“When I made the move from GT to prototype in 2013, I was disappointed to move away from GT racing and not win a championship,” he said.
“We finished second in 2011 in the Grand-Am GT points and one point off a championship.
“I always loved GT racing, so it was a missing point in my career on the championship side of things.
“It definitely was on my radar to get back to GT racing, and having the relationship with Corvette Racing all those years as a third driver… to have that come full-circle and be a full-time driver was a huge honor to get that ask last year.”
Taylor admitted his arrival into the Pratt & Miller-run squad for the first time on a full-season basis was a “big unknown” particularly in the first year of the mid-engined Corvette.
However, the questions were quickly put to rest when the duo claimed the car’s maiden win, in the July 4 sprint race at Daytona, in only the C8.R’s third race.
“Having seen what Corvette Racing has done in the past with C6.R, C7.R and now C8.R, they always come out strong,” Taylor said.
“This is the most unique car where a lot of it was designed in the simulation process on computers, proven in the Chevrolet simulator and developed that way before it hit the track.
“A fourth-place at Daytona [Rolex 24] may not have looked fantastic, but for a brand new car to come out and be that strong and competitive out of the box was huge. It gave a lot of people some confidence heading into the rest of the year.
“The pandemic shutdown gave us extra time to do our homework and some extra time for the crew to work on the car when they were allowed to, and for us as drivers to do more time in the simulator to develop it.
“That time and the preparation from all the guys really is what made our year so successful with the limited track time we had.”
Taylor admitted it’s “hard to say” if he and Garcia would have enjoyed the same level of success had the 2020 season run under normal circumstances compared to the long pause and reshuffled calendar that saw a return visit to Daytona and a two-hour and 40-minute race at Sebring instead of the 12-hour, which is still yet to be run.
“We did a two-day test at Sebring right after the Rolex 24, so I think we would have been ready for the 12 Hours but it still would have been an unknown,” he said.
“When we did go there for the sprint race, we were competitive.
“It’s hard to say what in the season would have been different having tracks like Watkins Glen and [Canadian Tire Motorsport Park] on the calendar, which we missed out on plus Long Beach.
“Those were tracks the C8.R hadn’t been to, but looking at how we ran at Charlotte and some places we didn’t expect to go to and how strong we were, I’d like to say we would have had a similar outcome.
“But I’m glad things have gone the way they have.”
Garcia: Title Even Sweeter After “Upside Down” Changes to No. 3 Crew
The Spaniard, who earned his fourth IMSA championship, admitted he was relieved to have achieved the level of success they did despite a significant overhaul in personnel between the two Daytona races.
Longtime crew chief Dan Binks departed while the No. 3 car’s race engineer Kyle Millay was promoted to chief engineer and John Lankes taking Millay’s spot, with David Marin moving over from the No. 4 car to fill Bink’s shoes.
“It was very different,” Garcia said. “After the lockdown, the 3 car side went upside down on many team members.
“There weren’t new members because they were already on the team, but there were a lot of people reassigned within the team as part of the preparation done during the lockdown.
“Initially it was very hard because the combination we previously had on the 3 car between Kyle and I was very strong. The work system was way easier because he knew me and I knew him.
“So we had to develop new relationships between engineers and us as drivers, and it was the same with the mechanics.
“As everyone saw, we seem to work really, really well.
“Race by race, we kept improving. There were little things we needed to address, and so far it’s all been very good.
“So the 3 car was completely new with Jordan joining but also a big shift in personnel and in a good direction. I’m very happy and grateful for these changes. Now we see the end result.”