Corvette Racing has just finished its competition for the 2021 season and put the wraps on its competition in the GTLM series as well. As is the case with racing, we knew Corvette’s racing in the series was coming to an end, but no one could have expected how the season would end with each C8.R.
Going into this weekend’s race, Corvette Racing had already accrued enough points for a sweep of the Manufacturers, Driver’s, and Team Championships for the 2021 season. This was the 14th Manufacturer’s Championship for Corvette Racing and the 15th Team Championship since 2000. Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor obtained back-to-back Driver’s Championships as Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy secured second place in the seasonal points race. Garcia won his fifth IMSA title, tying Oliver Gavin for the most among all Corvette Racing drivers and Taylor is now a four-time IMSA champion with two in GTLM to go along with a pair of Prototype titles.
There is no doubting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a season-long endurance race with the winners accruing the most points throughout the year. It is also comprised of numerous races at various tracks, each one an opportunity for a new winner and those all-important points toward a championship.
Team Corvette Racing had already secured multiple championships and hoped to finish out their stint in the IMSA GTLM class at the checkered flag and podium. That was not to be. At around mid-race, Taylor, driving the No. 3 Corvette C8.r, was part of a long train of cars coming to a restart over a blind crest and crashed heavily into another GT car that had spun and stopped only seconds before. Damage to the car was severe enough to remove it from the race but thankfully, Jordan received no injuries. He explained after the event, “Just a little sore, thanks. It’s just really tight, a muscle spasm. I’ll be fine in a couple of days. Thankfully, Corvette, Chevrolet, and Pratt Miller built a very strong car that kept me safe.”
Check out the video below for an in-car view of the carnage. Be sure to note the speed indicated at the time of the crash.
With the No. 3 car out of contention, driving to the finish line was hung on the No. 4 Corvette piloted by Nick Tandy, Alexander Sims, and Tommy Milner. With the trio leading a race-high of 313 laps, it looked like they were well on their way to do just that. Excellent driving, coupled with strategic fueling and pit stops kept the C8.R ahead for over three-quarters of the race.
There are several different classes of vehicles racing during the race, and much of the traffic comes from slower vehicles being lapped by faster classes. While running in second place in the No. 4 C8.R, Nick Tandy was hit and pushed off-track by a prototype car that would eventually win the race. The C8.R Corvette was not as fortunate. The contact had broken the left-front suspension of the C8.R and with only 10 minutes to the checkered flag, repairs were incapable of getting the car back out in the lead.
While the championship titles surely help soothe the bitter ending of the season, both drivers and teammates would have hoped to see the last miles of the season in the heat of competition. When team Corvette Racing returns to IMSA next year in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona, it will be fitted to the GTD PRO rulebook instead of GTLM, where they have been competing for years. There will also be a single-car entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship series to wave the Bowtie high over the competition during WEC races.
Antonio Garcia summed it up best when asked about looking forward to next year’s racing, “This championship has really, really good racing. Getting back to race again at Daytona, Sebring, here, and the other good tracks we go to, I’m really happy about that. As you can see today, GTD looks like good fun. I’m looking forward to that, too.”
So are we Antonio, so are we!