New Corvette Racing signing Nick Tandy hopes to “follow in the footsteps” of his predecessor at the team Oliver Gavin by developing a long-term association with the Pratt & Miller squad.
Tandy was recently confirmed as Gavin’s replacement in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R for the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Gavin joined Corvette in 2002 and went on to become its longest-serving driver, building up a large list of achievements including five drivers’ titles and five class victories from 18 consecutive appearances in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tandy, who is coming to the end of an eight-year spell as a Porsche factory driver, said that Corvette’s enduring presence in sports cars formed “part of the appeal” for his move to the team, and that he hopes this recent step will mark the start of a long-term affinity.
“One of the reasons that the program is so highly looked upon within the sport is that it’s been around and competing at the top level for so long,” Tandy told Sportscar365.
“When you look for a potential race program, you’re not looking for something that might be in for a year and out for another ten.
“The history of what Corvette Racing have done in the past and their plans for the future with the C8.R, it’s definitely part of the appeal.
“I want to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Gavin as somebody that I’ve looked up to for a very long time, since before I was in sports car racing at all, and hopefully be the next British part of the Corvette Racing success and legacy.”
Tandy said that Corvette was the first team he called after Porsche decided to end its factory GTLM program after 2020. The German marque announced its exit in June.
Corvette has won four of the last five GTLM teams’ titles and three of the last five manufacturers’ championships, including this year with the C8.R in its maiden campaign.
Tandy will share the No. 4 machine on a full-time basis with Tommy Milner, who won the 2016 title with Gavin. Alexander Sims will join the pairing for the endurance races.
“When it became clear that there wasn’t going to be a factory Porsche in GTLM, I looked at what other options might be out there to enable me to stay racing in a factory environment in IMSA,” said Tandy.
“Corvette Racing are the benchmark team in sports car racing, with the history they’ve had and the longevity they’ve had with the Chevrolet factory program.
“The way that they operate and the continual success they’ve had consistently is quite incredible.
“When the opportunity came about that they might have a position available, it was a pretty easy decision to make. To have the chance to race with a team like that, and in the C8.R which I’ve had a year to look at and race against; it’s a proper GT weapon.
“Everything about it is designed to go racing fast, whether at Watkins Glen or Le Mans. It’s something very exciting.”
Tandy Interested in Maintaining GT3 Drives
In addition to his aim of developing a long-term standing with Corvette, Tandy also hopes that he will be able to continue making appearances in major races outside of IMSA.
During his time at Porsche, Tandy was able to contest GT3 majors like the Total 24 Hours of Spa – which he won this year with ROWE Racing – and the Nürburgring 24.
He also represented LMP2 squad G-Drive Racing with Algarve in the 2020 edition of Le Mans, thanks to a late deal arranged after Porsche pulled its factory IMSA squad out of the event.
While Corvette usually runs at Le Mans, the team doesn’t have a presence in GT3 races such as Spa and the N24, which Tandy won driving for Manthey Racing in 2018.
It effectively means that any additional endurance race appearances for the 2015 Le Mans winner next year would need to come behind the wheel of cars from other brands.
Porsche is releasing six of its factory drivers, including Tandy, at the end of this year but has left open the possibility for them to obtain future drives with customer teams.
While Earl Bamber and Michael Christensen have been assigned to new GT3 customer roles, Tandy’s situation is more complex because he is moving to a new manufacturer.
“My full-season focus is on Corvette Racing and the IMSA championship,” said Tandy, who bowed out of his Porsche factory GTLM ride with victory in last month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“Should there be weekends when we’re not busy and not testing, maybe there’s something interesting going on in a big European race, for example.
“It’s something that I’ve already discussed, and maybe if the potential arises it’s something that I’d like to do, a bit like what I’ve done in previous seasons where I’ve raced with the factory CORE [autosport] team in America but then gone and raced with private teams in other races.
“It’s definitely something that I’d like to still look into doing in the future. But the number one priority is trying to get another IMSA championship for Corvette Racing.”