Jordan Taylor says the possibility of running the 24 Hours of Le Mans without a brake change has been a “strong topic” within the Corvette Racing camp after last year’s GTE class-winning Aston Martin Vantage GTEs were able to go the entire race on a single set of brake discs and pads.
The savings of one to two minutes in the pit lane, especially if the race features few to no safety cars, could play a key impact in the tightly-fought GTE-Pro ranks according to Taylor.
Taylor and co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Nicky Catsburg won this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona without having to change brakes, which has led to the Pratt & Miller-run squad to investigate a similar strategy for the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R’s Le Mans debut.
“It’s definitely a strong topic,” Taylor told Sportscar365. “Obviously it’s been something we’ve been working on with this car since it came out last year at Daytona.
“This year at Daytona we won the race and I don’t think we did a brake change there.
“That gave us the confidence over 24 hours that we would need. Obviously this track is a bit different but with our limited running in the test day we didn’t get as many miles as we wanted to.
“I don’t think we have the numbers yet to really understand if we can make it yet.
“We’ll try to see throughout today’s practice and qualifying and tomorrow as well, and try to accumulate some miles and some hours on the brakes to get the wear numbers and understand if it’s a possibility for us.”
Taylor said drivers can find ways of saving brakes with certain methods, with right-foot brakers like himself able to better take advantage of it more so than someone like co-driver Catsburg, who is a left-foot braker.
“Usually the high wear comes from a left-foot braker having some overlap when they go a little bit on throttle and brake at the same time, it spikes the temperatures,” he explained.
“The problem with this style of race as opposed to Daytona is you have to be flat out the whole time. At Daytona if you give up some pace to save brakes you know you can get a yellow and gather that time back.
“At Le Mans, you give up that time and you run the risk of losing a minute or two.
“It’s definitely more difficult when you come here to do those types of things.”
Ferrari technical director Ferdinando Cannizzo said a potential Balance of Performance advantage from a car could help influence a team’s decision to stretch the life of its brakes.
“I think last year Aston Martin had quite a good BoP that allowed them to not stress the brake system too much,” Cannizzo told Sportscar365.
“So they were able at the end to risk it. This was not our case last year.
“This year is very difficult to predict.
“We will see how the race will develop and how the BoP will finally be. Based on that, the strategy will tell. It depends on a lot of factors including weather conditions.”
While finishing second to Aston Martin last year in GTE-Pro, Cannizzo indicated they probably would have still lost the race due to the British manufacturer’s outright performance.
“Clearly anything that would allow you to reduce the waste of time is important,” he said.
“But at the end, overall, I think that even if Aston Martin had changed, they would have had more performance than us last year.
“I’m not saying that’s coming from the BoP, but the package.
“They did a maximum job and we need to respect that. I hope this year, everything included, we have the beset package and we can arrive first at the end.”
Porsche’s Head of WEC Operations Alexander Stehlig said you ultimately have to “weigh it up” whether a change could be undertaken at an opportune time, such as a safety car period.
“If you can fit a brake change in a safety car, for sure we do it,” he told Sportscar365. “But at the end of the day, we need the data from this year, so we need to run in the race and see how the brake wear develops.
“We have all scenarios prepared: brake change or no brake change: but we will make the decision in the race.
“It’s a strategy option, for sure. The race is long and it has so many influencing parameters. So it’s not like the brake change is a deciding factor.
“It’s an interesting fact what they did last year, and for sure we are keeping an eye on it.”
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report