Connect with us


Corvette “Brought a Knife to a Gunfight” After Red Flag

Corvette’s Nick Tandy on how first red flag cost team’s potential first WEC GTE-Pro class win…

Photo: MPS Agency

Nick Tandy said that the red flag shortly before the halfway point of the 1000 Miles of Sebring likely cost Corvette Racing a shot at the GTE-Pro class win, saying it was like “bringing a knife to a gunfight” against a Porsche on fresher tires.

Tandy and Tommy Milner finished the shortened FIA World Endurance Championship race at Sebring International Raceway second place in class, behind race winners Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19.

The two cars were engaged in a fierce battle throughout the first hour of the race, with the Corvette getting ahead of the Porsche as the halfway mark approached.

It was at that point that the race was red-flagged when Jose Maria Lopez had his big crash in the No.7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

The stoppage erased the lead that Milner and Tandy had managed to build over the Porsches.

Once the race restarted, Estre was on far fresher rubber than Milner, who had been double stinting his Michelin tires.

It left the Corvette effectively defenseless against the Porsche, with Estre retaking the class lead not long after the race got back underway.

“The first red flag really compromised everything we were doing because we were effectively trying to build a margin by not taking tires and gaining time in the pits,” Tandy explained to Sportscar365.

“The Porsches were always taking tires and we were trying to double stint them.

“We had this 20 seconds or so gap. So not only did the red flag erase that 20-second gap but then we were in the back end of a double stint on left side tires.

“I think the No. 92 had just taken four tires. So it was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. It’s kind of bittersweet.

“It’s disappointing because I think if it had run green for the whole race we would have been somewhere fighting the 92. But we’re also lucky that we managed to get P2. That’s a decent start to the season.”

The podium finish marked the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R’s best finish in the WEC outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“We’re happy with how the weekend’s gone. We had the chance to fight, which is all you want,” Tandy said. “Then you’ve just got to execute the perfect race.

“We couldn’t go as long on fuel as Porsche. This was one main thing that maybe we have to look at.

“We were kind of really stretching fuel to a 30-lap stint and they seemed to do 30 to 32 laps.

“So there’s a bit of a difference here, which then affects the strategy later on in the race. But past that, pretty good. Pretty happy.”

Porsche: Corvette Double Stint “A Brave Move”

The decision for Corvette to double stint its tires in the race surprised Alexander Stehlig, Porsche’s director of factory motorsport for WEC, who labeled it as a “brave move.”

“To be honest, they got us by surprise at the beginning that they did a complete double,” Stehlig said.

“That’s a brave move. We had the issue in the Prologue and training sessions when everyone didn’t do long runs. We had Full Course Yellow and red flag.

“We did not really know what to expect when we got into the double stints.

“When we saw that they did a double – no tire change at the beginning – we thought ‘they know what they are doing.’

“But at the end of the day, I think it was a classic endurance race where in each condition of the race during the afternoon. One manufacturer had a slight advantage over the other. It was an entertaining race between us.

“At the end of the day, they were saving tires.

“For sure they got beaten by that, because the race was short-cut due to red flags and Full Course Yellows. That’s the risk.

“You have two strategies. You either burn your tires and you get an advantage or you hang on and try to survive.

“Do you save and save and save, and attack at the end? Both strategies can be heavily affected by yellow or red flags.”

Stehlig also noted that the red flag caused by Lopez saved Porsche, as both of its cars had to serve 15-second penalties for infringements during the start procedure in the second hour.

“It helped us, because we [screwed] up the formation lap,” he explained. “Both drivers did not do what they were told from the race director.

“We had a 15-second time penalty on our account. I would say the red flag was not against us.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

Click to comment

More in FIA WEC