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IMSA Sebring

Corvette drivers surprised by pace after 12th Sebring win

Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg scored Corvette Racing’s 12th victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring but admitted the C8.R’s speed came as a surprise.

#3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg

The trio led 247 of their 323 laps in the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to score the team’s first win in the event since 2017, and also the first win for the GTD Pro-spec C8.R.

As IMSA officials still tweak the Balance of Performance of the cars in GTD categories, Corvette received a 20hp boost mid-weekend, but it also has a smaller fuel tank capacity than its rivals, which tends to reduce the effect of the power boost as the drivers try to match their competition’s fuel consumption.

Yet Garcia passed six cars in his opening two hours before handing off to Taylor who ran three hours and then added to endurance ‘extra’ Catsburg.

Catsburg ran 3hr18min, handed back to Taylor for one stint, and then Garcia closed with a triple-stint to score the GTD Pro victory by 4.4sec over the TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan.

“The main thing here was to stay up front, don’t make any mistakes and have no failures that would set us back,” said Garcia. “I was the first guy surprised about our pace. We started seventh [in GT overall] and slowly started to make our way through. I wasn’t expecting to be leading after the first stop.

“I thought our car was the best during the day and when it was as warm as possible. I was a little bit afraid of the rest of the field at night. It seemed like everything was switching on for them… It was up to us to control the pace and keep the gap.”

Said Taylor: “Twelve hours at Sebring is tougher than 24 at Daytona or Le Mans. It’s a big accomplishment for the team. We won Daytona and the championship last year, so it’s nice to get another major endurance race for the C8.R and start our championship fight again…

“I was surprised how quick we were. I think we were quick in clean air. If we had been stuck behind guys, it would have been difficult for us to get ahead. Once we got to the front, the name of the game was to maintain our track position whether it be saving fuel and extending windows or saving tires. The guys nailed the strategy and kept us out front all day. That’s what really won us the race.”

Catsburg admitted: “At the start of the weekend, we really struggled. We got a little break which definitely helped us and brought us back into contention, but it wasn’t easy. Not at all…. I was struggling on the tires in the middle of the race. It was tough.

“You never know where you really are until the race. In practice, you don’t know what people are doing in terms of fuel loads, qualifying runs or race runs. It’s difficult to say how much we picked up.

“We stuck to our initial plan. We didn’t try anything too crazy. The Lexus and Porsche were going out of sequence but we always stuck to our original plan. It worked out well.”

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