Corvettes Face Uncertain Future as IMSA WeatherTech Series Takes on Long Beach09/24/2021
At 30, Jordan Taylor is a pro, and isn’t intimidated by any racetrack.
Still, there’s something about the concrete canyons that make up the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach that gives him pause.
“It’s definitely more stressful,” said the driver of the number 3 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in the GT Le Mans class. “The two we’ve done the most are Long Beach and Detroit, and it’s easy to like tracks when you’ve had success at them and we’ve had success at both. But there’s no room for error and you have to be pushing ten-tenths. It’s just a 100-minute race so you have to be flat out the whole time. There’s a lot of risk versus reward.
“At a race like Daytona you value patience, but when you come to Long Beach it’s flat-out all the time and there’s no making up lost time if you make a mistake. It’s definitely one of the most stressful weekends of the year. At the same time it’s always fun to be here – the race draws a great crowd. We really missed the race last year so its good to be back.” Last year’s race was cancelled due to the pandemic, so this is the first time back since 2020.
As far as the 2021 season, “It’s been great so far, starting out with the win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. It was the first endurance win for the C8.R, last year we won the championship, and winning an endurance race was high on the list of things we wanted to accomplish so we were able to check that off early with a 1-2 finish for the team. Since then it’s been smooth sailing. We’ve had four wins in our car and two for the 4 car and a second place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – all in all, it’s been great. Le Mans was obviously disappointing not getting the win, but with the first time there for the C8.R it was great to be fighting until the end. We were within 40 seconds of the lead for the entire race.”
Competition in GT Le Mans has been thin since Porsche and BMW pulled their factory efforts. This weekend it’s just the two Corvettes, and a privateer Porsche 911 fielded by WeatherTech’s Cooper MacNeil.
Once he gets through Long Beach, it’s off to two tracks Taylor really likes.
“Virginia International Raceway and Road Atlanta are two of my favorite tracks. They are two of the best natural-terrain road courses we have in America, two genuine old-school tracks. And they both draw great crowds as well, lots of sports car-dependent fans who look forward to us coming. Hopefully we’ll be able to relax a little bit more on the points side and just go for the race win.” Taylor and co-driver Antonio Garcia go into Long Beach with a healthy points lead over the sister car, driven by Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner, who won the non-points race at Detroit and most recently at Laguna Seca.
Next season, GT Le Mans goes away, and the class dovetails into a Pro-Am situation that combines two classes into the GT Daytona field. Will Corvette be there? “The only thing I’ve heard is that the Corvettes will be racing somewhere,” Taylor said. “These cars have been around for two years now and obviously have a lot of street cred, winning the championship last year and the Rolex this year and leading the points again. The cars have obviously shown how strong they are and we’re definitely going to keep racing them somewhere.”
“Somewhere” likely means back in the IMSA series, as rumor has it the current car, too sophisticated for next year’s rules, will be modified to make them legal. We’ll see.
“I’m the wrong guy to ask,” Taylor said.
The Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach takes the green flag at 5 p.m. Saturday, and will be televised on NBCSN.
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