Corvette Racing’s Return to 24 Hours of Le Mans Has ‘Weird’ Feel to It

Corvette Racing’s Return to 24 Hours of Le Mans Has ‘Weird’ Feel to It

08/13/2021

When Corvette Racing decided not to attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans last season because of COVID and IMSA scheduling issues, it crippled, to some extent, Americans’ interest in the race—only a handful of U.S. racers participated last season, and it seems even fewer are making the trip this year.

It Corvette Racing ended a run of 20 consecutive years and eight wins at Le Mans that started in 2000. And missing 2020 also meant that the new mid-engine Corvette C8.R wouldn’t get an important global showcase.

But Corvette is back, and looking for victory number nine. The race, set for August 21-22 around the 8.4-mile circuit that is a mix of permanent racetrack and public roads, will see the two Corvette Racing entries taking on seven other entries in the GTE Pro class.

Although the C8.R is new at Le Mans, it has a raced in Europe. Corvette Racing ran a single mid-engine Corvette in the Six Hours of Spa in May with Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin, giving the team experience with a different set of rules than in IMSA—mainly pit stop sequences, yellow-flag strategies and other sporting situations.

“It’s going to be nice going back after a few years off,” said driver Jordan Taylor, who returned to the Corvette stable last year, coming from Prototypes. “But for the team after having missed the race last year for the first time in so long is going to feel weird. Everyone lives for that event. It’s the biggest event for the team and in sports car racing. Having missed last year is going to make everyone want to win it that much more and get back there as fast as possible.

“Having to watch Le Mans on TV isn’t the easiest thing,” said Taylor, coming off a 2021 Rolex 24 win. “As a kid watching it, it’s an amazing race and you grow to love it and want to be there one day. Once you get there the magnitude of the event, the people, the fans, the atmosphere… it’s like no other race. So when you get that feeling and emotion, you don’t want to lose it. So then when you have to watch it again on TV during on the years you can’t make it, it makes you miss it that much more and be that much more motivated to go back and be competitive.”

“It always is nice to go back somewhere when you’ve been away for a year. So it’s great to be back at Le Mans,” said Antonio Garcia, Taylor’s teammate in the No. 63. “One of last year’s biggest disappointments was not going to Le Mans. Conditions were what they were. We couldn’t go with the schedule shuffling, and in the end it wasn’t possible to go. It would have been beneficial. That knowledge of the C8.R around Le Mans would be an advantage going into this year’s race. But we can overcome that. Even this is our first time there with this car, we’ve done many races in IMSA with the C8.R. There are a lot of laps and miles already on it.”

“Everyone lives for that event.”

The new car “should be better (than previous generations) and that’s what we expect. We saw at Spa that we were close to our competitors. So it was good event for the team to get used to WEC rules and strategy. Now once we get to Le Mans, it should be an easier time to get into that mindset having been through it before.”

Taylor and Garcia join part-timer Nicky Catsburg in the No. 63, with the No. 64 piloted by Tommy Milner, Alexander Sims and Nick Tandy, the former Porsche ace.

The green flag drops at 10 a.m. ET August 21. MotorTrend TV will air the race live with the MotorTrend App adding coverage of official practices and qualifying on Aug. 18 and 19. Live audio coverage will be available from Radio Le Mans starting with this Sunday’s Test Day.

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