Chevrolet’s C8.R Corvettes went head to head with some of the world’s best drivers this past weekend in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class during the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, part of the Weathertech Sportscar Championship.
We say “some” of the world’s best because members of the Porsche GT Team, normally a two-car entry in GTLM, bypassed the Mid-Ohio weekend out of caution after members of its 24 Hours of Le Mans program tested positive for COVID-19. Therefore, Porsche drivers Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor, and Nick Tandy did not wield their Porsches against the duo of C8.R Corvettes. As such, it was a four-car race between the C8.Rs and the No. 25 BMW driven by Bruno Spengler and Connor De Phillippi and the sister No. 24 BMW co-piloted by Jesse Krohn and John Edwards. Porsche plans to return to IMSA for the race on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 10.
Corvette led the entire two hours and 40 minutes of the race – 110 laps in all – but the C8.R Corvettes shined the entire weekend. “The #3 Corvette was particularly strong all weekend,” said driver Jordan Taylor. “We led all four sessions – both practice sessions, qualifying, and race. I think we just had a little bit more speed on everyone else all weekend.”
Jordan Taylor began from pole but Gavin got the jump early and led the first 17 laps before going slightly wide at the end of the back straight. At that point, Taylor seized the opportunity and put the #3 C8.R back into first place. From then on, it was a battle between brothers for the rest of the race. Three full-course cautions would reel the Corvettes back to the rest of the GLTM field.
At 43 minutes running, both Corvettes headed for the pits, displaying differing strategies. Taylor, in the #3 Corvette took on fuel and fresh Michelin tires, while Tommy Milner got in the No. 4 Corvette, which also got a full service. The No. 3 Corvette stopped again under the race’s second full-course caution with about an hour to go when Antonio Garcia took over for Taylor.
The #3 Corvette ruled the racetrack in GTLM, which left both Milner and Garcia staring at the #3’s taillights at every turn. Milner stopped again for fuel, tires, and a final adjustment to try and match the pace of the sister Corvette. The move worked as the #4 C8.R remained almost glued to the back of the leading Corvette. “Fundamentally, we were just that little step behind the #3 car,” explained Gavin. “We could never get the balance where Tommy and I were comfortable. It really only came-in during that last stint; it was maybe a little bit of the track conditions and a little bit of us working on the car and figuring out a few things.”
In the absence of team orders, both Corvettes were vying for the top spot. At times, the #4 Corvette was less than a half-second behind the leading Corvette. In the end, both Corvette C8.Rs held off the BMWs and brought home those most valuable championship points. The #3 Corvette taking top honors thanks to Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia. The #4 Corvette crossed the finish line less than 1.5-seconds behind, bringing Second-Place to both Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.