Ricky Taylor knows his way around a Corvette, although the second-generation driver is eager for his GTE-Pro debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, looking to continue Corvette Racing’s legacy in the French endurance classic.
The 26-year-old, a regular in IMSA competition in his father’s Corvette DP squad, branches out to drive the flagship Corvette C7.R for the factory squad at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, following in the footsteps of his brother, Jordan.
The older Taylor brother has been around the factory program for years as a spectator, and even drove a one-off race for the Pratt & Miller squad in the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Circuit of The Americas in 2014.
That combination of time spent around the team and a strong debut showing has led to what Ricky calls a dream opportunity: to drive for Corvette at Le Mans.
“I’ve been around the team for awhile, especially going over and watching Jordan do his first Le Mans with them,” Taylor told Sportscar365.
“I’ve done some testing; we did the race at COTA in WEC, so I know the team pretty well, but to actually be racing at Le Mans with them is definitely a lot of pressure.
“The team is expecting to perform well every time they go there. They’ve won eight times, so it adds a lot of pressure to be representing the Chevrolet Corvette brand.
“When expectations are that high, you just have to perform and get the job done.”
Taylor readily admitted the team’s history at the French endurance classic altered his expectations for himself.
“That’s the pressure of it. For me a podium would be great!” he said.
“For Corvette, they’re not accepting anything other than wins, so that adjusts my goals as well.”
While 2016 marks his first go-round for the Corvette factory squad at Le Mans, Taylor does have some history of his own at the famed circuit.
He made his Le Mans debut with a 5th-in-class result in a GTE-Am Corvette C6.R for Larbre Cometition in 2013, and followed that up with an LMP2 appearance for the French squad in 2014.
Taylor said that experience, especially in the privateer Corvette in 2013, has prepared him for the challenge ahead.
“I’ve been around there in a Corvette, obviously not the factory car, but I think the driving style is pretty similar,” he said.
“We just had a good test recently at Road America in Le Mans trim with the car, so I’m feeling much more prepared and comfortable than I have in the past. And having two Le Mans starts under my belt helps a lot.”
Adding to the intrigue is the addition of Ford to the GTE-Pro manufacturer lineup for 2016.
Corvette has waved the stars and stripes as the preeminent American representative in GT racing at the race for much of the recent past, but Ford’s presence means there’s some extra bragging rights on the line.
“Racing against them here in America, and us with the DP [in IMSA], we’ve raced against Ford as well, it’s a great rivalry,” he said.
“It’s kind of like the Ford-Holden rivalry in Australia. But to take it to the biggest stage at Le Mans makes it even better and super-sizes it because now you’re not the only American brand over there representing America racing against Ferrari and Aston and Porsche and all of them.
“Now you have to add Ford in there as well.”
Taylor will team with fellow GM factory drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 63 entry, but he said his brother Jordan will be an eager mentor in the sister No. 64 Corvette.
“It’s nice having Jordan there,” Ricky said. “Often times even your teammates don’t want to help you too much!
“Jan and Antonio have been great with me, but having Jordan there, I really like having a good helper along to be honest and give me good feedback.
“He’s got plenty of experience over there and he’s a good one to lean on.”