Jordan Taylor admitted he was shocked by the news that he and co-driver Nicky Catsburg would have to drive the final seven hours of the Rolex 24 at Daytona as a duo following co-driver Antonio Garcia’s mid-race COVID-19 diagnosis.
Taylor, Garcia, and Catsburg teamed for the first endurance race victory for the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, but Taylor and Catsburg were forced to do more driving than they anticipated in the run to the checkered flag.
“It wasn’t great news to be honest!” said Taylor. “I had finished my [second] triple stint… I was supposed to be done. I was supposed to go get a massage and relax and watch Nicky and Antonio go race.
“I was so excited just to go relax and then they say, ‘Hey, Antonio can’t get back in the car.’ To be honest, I was in shock. I was like, there’s no way.
“Antonio is our guy; he’s our finisher. That’s who we want to have in the car for the end. I was so disappointed for Antonio because I know how much this means to him, how much he wanted to win it and finish the race.
“Thankfully we trained well. We have great support from the doctors here to keep us healthy, keep us fit. The physicality of it wasn’t too bad, it was more, I’d say, the mental strain was difficult.”
Taylor said the team sought instruction from IMSA on how to proceed and expressed confidence in the team’s own preventative measures, but acknowledged that he would not join his family to celebrate a historic day for the Taylor clan as a precaution.
“Corvette Racing and Pratt & Miller take safety and health very seriously so protocols that we have are super serious,” he said. “The drivers don’t really get to interact, even in a 24-hour.
“I didn’t get to see Nicky all race long, I just passed the car on to the next guy and we’ll see each other after the race. For me, Antonio I saw before the race and that was the last time.
“Even then, we’re always social distancing, we’re always taking the correct protocols, surface to surface we’re wearing gloves and balaclavas and helmets so nothing in the car could be at risk for us.
“We didn’t have too much concern. We took the lead from IMSA and NASCAR to trust ourselves.
“They gave us this platform to race and to be here, so the last thing we want to do is break their protocols and do something unsafe and unhealthy.
“We stuck to what they said and yes, it’s definitely sad and disappointing that Antonio wasn’t there for the end but he was a huge part of our victory today.
“He leads this 3 car, he’s been here for years, he started the race off so well for us. So for us it was sad that he couldn’t share it with us on the podium but we’ll definitely see him in a couple of weeks when he’s all better and cleared and we can all go celebrate.
“I’m fine to just go sit at my house by myself for as long as it takes and [look after] my Rolex for awhile. I’ll get tested, I’ll make sure I’m safe.
“I just live with my dog and I don’t think dogs can get COVID right now so we’ll be alright.”