With the demise of the GTLM class in IMSA, Corvette created a GT3-spec C8.R to compete in the new GT Daytona Pro class – GTD (GT3) cars with all-pro drivers.
For Taylor, Garcia and the Corvette team, the transition has not been smooth, as they’ve struggled to find a stint-long sweetspot for the ‘standard’ Michelin tire compound, after years of GTLM entries running car-specific rubber, and they are also getting used to the anti-lock braking systems.
Despite these hurdles, Taylor, Garcia and endurance extra Nicky Catsburg won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring this month, and now head into the IMSA ‘sprint’ races. Next week’s Long Beach round and the Detroit round in June, at 100mins, are the shortest on the schedule.
Said Taylor: “The big thing is to lean on the experience from the team to develop the setup throughout the weekend to stay on top of things. Corvette Racing has won [Long Beach] eight times so they know how to keep on top of the ball.
“It’ll be my first time racing there in a car with ABS, so that will be new in trying to understand how to maximize that in some of the bumpy brake zones, and trusting it will be a big part.”
In preparation for this conversion, Corvette ran ABS at Detroit last year, since it was a non-championship round for the GTLM cars, but Taylor pointed out that the C8.R’s change in tires as it switched classes has an effect on how the ABS works.
“The tire is so different than what we ran in Detroit last year,” he said. “The way the ABS interacts to the S9M tire compared to the ‘confidential’ tire is much different in how you can attack the brakes.
“It was good to get a couple of miles under our belts at Detroit last year [yet] we saw at Daytona and Sebring that we still have a lot to learn with that system. Sebring was probably good for us to get some experience on a bumpy track with this tire and ABS [but] I think we’ll still be figuring things out throughout the weekend at Long Beach.
“We made some good developments through the Sebring weekend to help the interaction but it will be an interesting weekend to stay on top of it.”
He later added: “We did a two-day test between Daytona and the Sebring race. We made some big gains from a setup point of view – understanding the tire and what makes it work.
“This car was designed around using the confidential tire so we did huge setup swings at that test and found a ton of lap time just in that, plus compliance and durability of the tire and understanding how to make the tire work over a stint and not just a lap. Just little details like that brought us closer to the window.”
ABS, he said, also helped defend against a rival when battling on worn rubber tires.
“I’m kind of new to the GT3 world,” he said. “At Sebring I destroyed my tires in my first stint and felt like I was two seconds off the pace but was able to hold off the Lamborghini. I think ABS helps make that possible. Even if you are a little bit off the pace or struggling with tires, that tool kind of helps you in that situation.”
Taylor was Rolex Sports Car Series Prototype champion in 2013, IMSA Prototype champion in 2017 and accrued 19 Prototype victories before reverting back to GTs, in which he started his top-rank sportscar career. He and Garcia have won 10 races in the mid-engined C8.R, and clinched the final two IMSA GTLM-class championships together.
Taylor has also raced seven times at Le Mans, all with Corvette, and shared the winning GTE Pro-class C7.R with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in 2015.
Sebring GTD Pro winners, Catsburg, Taylor and Garcia.
Photo by: Chris duMond / Motorsport Images