It’s difficult to say what trait Corvette Racing is best known for since it began racing on the world circuit again as a factory-based team. Their determination and “never quit” spirit have carried them to more podium finishes than anyone could have ever anticipated. They are fierce competitors and can wrestle with the best of them on any chicane or straight.
Even so, there are times when a prizefighter can’t get up fast enough and the blows they endure are simply too much to hang another belt over their shoulder. Such was the case at this weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race, presented by Advance Auto Parts. A race where both team and car(s) are well accustomed to the bumpy, twisting, vintage airstrip located in Sebring, Florida which has become more riddled with cooling tire carcasses than jet fuel as of late.
Antonio Garcia put Corvette Racing on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole position during Friday’s qualifying runs in preparation for the big race. Garcia set a GTLM record with a 1:54.910 (117.169 mph) around the 3.74-mile, 17-turn circuit and put the No. 3 C8.R Corvette in starting position for the race. The No. 4 C8.R Corvette was right behind (by only 0.034 seconds) with teammate Tommy Milner at the helm. His time, a mere 1:54.944 (117.135 mph).
Heading into the race, both teams were stoked to hit the track they have enjoyed so many times before. They were also positioned well in the points standings, but each race holds valuable points that will accrue throughout the racing season. At the beginning of the Sebring race, Corvette Racing was in the lead team points with 382 (No. 3 Corvette), and 355 (No. 4 Corvette). The No. 24 BMW held 324 points, and would prove to be stiff competition throughout the race. Corvette Racing’s tweet sums up the team’s anticipation quite well.
Only 37 points separated Team Corvette from their Bavarian competitors in the Manufacturer Standings and throughout the race, mere seconds separated the cars. As the green flag waved, the No. 3 Corvette, piloted by Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg began leading the pack around the course, leading 211 of 334 laps.
The No. 4 Corvette C8.R trio of Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, and Alexander Sims began the race second in GTLM, but the No. 4 C8.R developed an electrical problem from the outset. Milner, Tandy, and Sims – who finished second in GTLM at Daytona – were fifth in class Saturday at Sebring.
It appeared that the burden to bring home the win was securely upon the No. 3 Corvette, but by all accounts, it was well positioned to do just that. Garcia drove the No. 3 C8.R for the final 2.5 hours of the race and was attempting to work his way through traffic when he was forcefully hit under braking by the second-place GTLM car and sent spinning out of the hairpin Turn 7. The front-left of the C8.R was damaged, and Garcia had to pit with a flat tire. The damage was too great, and the No. 3 Corvette missed the podium.
Corvette Racing ended an up-and-down day with fourth- and fifth-place class finishes in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Both Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs faced adversity throughout, and the team nearly won for the 13th time at Sebring International Raceway. Corvette Racing’s next event is the Six Hours of Spa in the FIA World Endurance Championship on May 1, 2021.