SEBRING, Fla. (March 18, 2023) – Corvette Racing showed itself strong early but was left wondering what might have been at the end of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday.
The No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R – with Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner sharing the wheel – placed fifth in the GT Daytona (GTD) PRO class after the second race of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
After fighting back first from an untimely full-course yellow early and then a mechanical problem with four hours remaining, Corvette Racing appeared to be in a great spot for a second straight Sebring class victory until late-race chaos that started with the GTP-class fight with 20 minutes to go undid all the team’s good work at the end.
The Corvette had the race going its way in the opening eight hours. Garcia began from pole position and steadily increased his advantage through the first hour. The first bit of misfortune struck at the race’s second full-course yellow just past the hour mark as the Corvette couldn’t make its first stop before the pits closed. As a result, it had to enter the pitlane for five seconds of emergency fuel and pit again for full service when the GT pits opened.
Garcia fell to eighth in class but carved his way back toward the front with a dynamic drive through traffic in the span of 25 minutes. He moved up to second by the time the race went yellow again at the two-hour mark.
Taylor got in the Corvette for almost three hours as the Corvette Racing crew got him out ahead of the No. 79 Mercedes for the GTD PRO lead. It was a spot that Taylor held for most of his triple-stint before he handed the C8.R to Milner, who rejoined with the lead.
The Corvette continued to lead out front despite the air and track temperatures climbing during the hottest part of the day. Still while leading, Milner radioed to the Corvette Racing pitbox for the crew to check something at the rear of the car. On his final pitstop with about four hours left, the crew found and replaced the C8.R’s left-rear damper. The fix cost Corvette Racing a lap but Taylor got in for his second run in the car still with good pace but needing a yellow.
Nearly 2.5 hours later, the yellow flags flew again to solidify the Corvette getting back on the lead lap. Taylor stayed in until the 10-hour mark when Garcia re-entered the race for the final stints to the end. A series of additional full-course yellows and some sharp strategy calls moved the Corvette as high as third and first among the GTD PRO cars that made their final scheduled stops under yellow with about 50 minutes to go.
On the subsequent restart, however, Garcia was hit from behind and knocked off track. The contact sent the C8.R down to sixth place. The final blow came with 17 minutes to go when Garcia and the No. 62 Ferrari were involved in a crash instigated by the overall leaders. Despite the second spin, the Corvette did gain a spot to its final fifth-place finishing position.
Corvette Racing’s next event in the WeatherTech Championship is Saturday, April 15 in Long Beach, Calif.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTD PRO:“I’m really disappointed with the finish, but it has nothing to do with the team. They did a great job all weekend with the car, our strategy and helping to keep us in the race when things weren’t looking so good. We kept waiting for a long time for a yellow to get back with the main GTD PRO group, and it finally came our way not long after I got in. I felt like we were in the best shape of all with about an hour to go before all the chaos broke out. I really don’t know what to say. All I know is that I was spun twice and it ruined our race and our car. I understand that this is an important race but there is no call for what happened late. It was careless and reckless driving by a lot of guys who should know better. I don’t know if we would have won, but I do know that we had that chance taken from us. I’m not happy.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTD PRO: “A disappointing finish. The guys did an amazing job. We were up front and in control for a majority of the day before our mechanical issue. I’d say driving standards for today were pretty sub-par from the whole field. There were so many yellows early on and the end of the race was embarrassing to be part of, to be honest. It’s disappointing to finish fifth after how strong we were, but we’ll move on to Long Beach.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – FINISHED FIFTH IN GTD PRO: “The start was great from Antonio. The first stint from Jordan was awesome. The car was very, very good. At some point in my stint, we had our issue and it looked a little grim for awhile. Then it looked like we would have an opportunity and a chance to race for a podium, which I think we certainly deserved as we had the car to beat. At the end, you had a lot of guys who were driving over their heads and there was a lot of that today. Unfortunately we got the worst of it. I feel for the rest of the guys in GTD PRO to have to deal with Antonio for the rest of the year. He’s going to be fired up.”
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