By: Ashley McCubbin
Over the past 12 months, Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims have watched Corvette’s new CR-8 go from placing fourth in it’s debut – the 2020 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, to winning the IMSA WeatherTech GTLM Championship.
Now behind the wheel of the No. 4 this year, the pair are keen on winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, giving Corvette their first win in the event in 2016.
“I mean, at the end of the day, the Corvette Racing team with the new car, the C8-R had a fantastic season in their debut in the car winning tons of races and championships,” Tandy told POPULAR SPEED. “I know they’re very keen to score a long distance victory, and it’s something that we’re obviously very keen to try and help with. How we go about that is difficult to say, other than just being consistent and from what I’ve seen in our limited time, just doing things the Corvette Racing way which is just being consistently right there with the front running cars.
“As we all know in long race, endurance racing, you have to have a little luck come the end of the race and that’s the plan for this season – get a few marquee event wins.”
Tandy admits being impressed with the car last season, and equally pleased in working alongside the team so far this season.
“It is as I expected,” he commented. “The team working around it are championship class – they’re not champions for no reason. So everybody working on the car knows what they’re doing in this program and hope we can carry on and take the C8-R to it’s first endurance victory.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Sims, who admits being impressed in his first test behind the wheel at Sebring last month.
“It just succeeded my expectations in many different phases of the corner,” he recalled. “Working here this week so far, things have gone well. Here in Daytona, I think the different conditions, wet and dry, the track being a bit green and taking a bit of time to grip up, the whole Corvette team is doing a good job getting the car up to speed and us.”
The development of the car in being able to do that was through the hard work and engineering behind the scenes, as well as the team of drivers on-board. Driver of the No. 3 entry, Antonio Garcia says that comes from learning something every time the car is on-track, whether through driver input or data.
“The car improves every day,” he told POPULARS PEED. “Now with more tools like the simulator and some other things, the C8.R is far away from being fully developed. The guys at Corvette Racing are still working flat-out on that… not only on performance but also on reliability. Everyone is working as a group to make it faster and more reliable. Things are going in the right direction. We need to see where we are Sunday morning and if we are able to carry on and win it again.”
Based on everything thus far, it could be a one-year anniversary party to not forget, as the new party behind the No. 4 feel it’s very possible.
“Nick and I think it’s possible,” Sims commented. “Obviously, the competition is always strong in GTLM and we’re going to have to working hard to improve anything, but everything is pointing in the right direction at the moment. We’ve done some good learning the past few days and just need to keep everything clean for the first 15, 18, 20 hours as always in a 24-hour race, and make sure we’re there to fight at the end.”
The sentiments are also echoed by Jordan Taylor and the No. 3 group, as he feels “all the right pieces” are there, and it’d be “a big prize and huge honor” to accomplish the feat.
“I know everyone’s focus is on the Rolex on the one hand, and after that you start looking at the championship as a whole,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “We had the right pieces last year. We had a very good race and finished fourth with no major issues. Coming out of the box like that and not having much development on the setup side, the crew not having a lot of pit stop experience and strategy with a new car, and maybe not understanding fuel mileage and drivability.
“Now, we are way more prepared and it gives us a lot of confidence that we had such a strong race last year. I think of how far the car has been developed, even during the couple of months that we were in lockdown. I think we have all the right pieces. It’s just down to things going our way, getting traffic in the right places and not getting caught up in other people’s races. It’s always difficult to win these races, but we do have the right pieces at Corvette Racing. All we need to do is stay out of trouble for 20 hours and hopefully go racing for the last couple.”