CORVETTE RACING AT LAGUNA SECA: Garcia, Taylor Transcript
CORVETTE RACING AT LAGUNA SECA: Garcia, Taylor Transcript
Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, teammates in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R and points leaders in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
YOU’VE WON THREE TIMES IN YOUR CAREER AT LAGUNA SECA. IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THE TRACK THAT SPEAK TO YOU? IS IT LUCK OR IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE?
“I wouldn’t say it was luck. You never know at Laguna. There are always a lot of different strategies in play. It’s usually a two- or three-stop race. Lately it has been more of a three-stop one. With those, you always need to fight those gambling with two stops. We’ve won a few races there but we also lost a few with cars and people who we didn’t expect to get to the end and they ended up managing to make the strategy work. There is a fine line. Tire degradation is the main thing. As soon as there is a yellow, everything starts again and you better have a good tire. Otherwise you are going to be end up being very vulnerable. Let’s see what this weekend goes. Hopefully we are on the good strategy.”
WHAT HAVE BEEN THINGS LIKE FOR YOU SINCE THE LAST IMSA RACE AT ROAD AMERICA?
“It’s been very busy. Right after Road America, we had two or three days off and then we were off again to Le Mans. Being European, I was a little luckier than the American guys so I could stay here (in Spain) until the Friday morning before the Test Day. So that saved me a couple of days. Le Mans was very tiring as always. Last week I was at the simulator with Jordan, so the work is still on. You need to keep focusing. There was a ton of data to analyze and some correlation to be done after Le Mans. You better have all the information you can after a big race like that. I spent a few days there and then came back here for some family time. Time flies by when you are with your kids, for sure.”
HOW RELIABLE HAS THE CHEVROLET SIMULATOR BEEN FOR YOU ON THE CORVETTE SIDE WHEN THE CAR GETS ON THE TRACK?
“A lot. The C8.R is the answer for that. We’ve been working on the simulator with the C8.R for two to three years in advance before it was on the track for the first time. That helped a lot. It’s true that you need to trust all the data you are getting from the wind tunnel and all your simulations. Our simulator seems to be very good on correlation. We also have Michelin helping us develop a very, very good tire model which is one of the most important things we need to have. So it has worked very well for us on the C8.R. Every time we had a bad race – even though there was no time to go on track – we had time to recover and fix things that didn’t work. Most of the time, the car is really good out of the box at the track. You end up doing a few tweaks and very small setup changes. It’s been very, very good.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
WHAT ABOUT WEATHERTECH RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA MAKES IT SPECIAL TO A LOT OF PEOPLE?
“To us, it’s a classic sports car track in North America. It’s known around the world for the Corkscrew but anyone who goes there – for our weekend in particular – who is a hard-core sports car fan knows it because of the history of the sport. There’s a lot of history there. A lot of famous guys raced really cool cars back in the day in sports cars. I was able to go there a couple of years for one of the Reunions and drive an old Corvette around the track. You definitely feel a lot of history when you go there. It’s a cool part of the country… lots of great restaurants in the area, you’ve got the town of Monterey. The track itself is built into the hillside there. We enjoy it. The track is challenging. It’s more slippery than you’d expect. It degrades the tire pretty quickly, so it makes the whole weekend pretty tricky to understand what the car needs to be competitive. You can have one car for qualifying that will be fast but you need a completely different animal for the race itself. There always seems to be some sort of compromise, but that’s what makes it enjoyable is to have that challenge.”
WHEN YOU EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE THE SUBJECT OF ADHENSION AND GRIP AND THEN HAVING NONE AT LAGUNA, HOW DO YOU GET THAT TO RELATE TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T DRIVE?
“That’s a tricky question to explain. When you go to a place like Watkins Glen or Road Atlanta, the grip level is high so to find the threshold and limit of the car and the tire, you need to push the car a lot and trust that the grip will be there. When you go Laguna Seca, I wouldn’t say it’s like driving on ice – it’s not that slippery – but the limit comes so fast. You find the limit of the tire, the grip and the car extremely quickly. You’re driving almost like a knife-edge. You try to stay under the grip of the tire and not trying to slide it. The grip level is so low that it’s easy to go past it. I’d say a way to explain it is that you’re very on edge the whole time to stay below that limit and hurt the tire and laptime. If you can save that from the beginning of a stint, it will be pay huge dividends at the end of it.”
HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR AGGRESSION LEVEL, EITHER WHEN YOU’RE PUSHING ANOTHER DRIVER OR PUSHING AGAINST YOURSELF?
“It’s really tricky. It takes some experience and maturity not to get caught up in things, especially in GTLM. Our stint length is really long. I came from being in prototypes where our stints were getting shorter and shorter to like 35- or 40-minute stints. At that point with tire degradation, you can still push pretty hard and maybe you’ll suffer for the last 10 minutes. In GTLM, our stints can be close to an hour in length so you can suffer for 30 minutes. The amount of patience you have to have with the way you are driving, attacking and fighting people and to get through traffic… you have to be a lot more careful and mindful of what you’re doing. Every time you slip the tire a little bit, you kind of remind yourself that maybe you went a little too hard there. You have to reset and think more about the bigger picture.”
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE C8.R AT LAGUNA LAST YEAR THAT CAN BE HELPFUL THIS YEAR?
“The biggest thing when we go there is understanding how the tire works and tire compound. I think last year we split strategies between the 3 and 4 car because we have such limited track time. You don’t have much time to test and understand what you need to do in the race itself. Splitting the strategies last year should help us this year to understand where the strengths and weaknesses were between those two strategies and tire options. It’s another thing we were working on last week in the simulator to understand where we want to be and understand the different temperature ranges on the track this week. We learned a lot Last year was the first time the car was on a very low-grip surface. It’s unique in that fashion and we learned some important lessons last year.”
YOU WERE ON THE DALE JR. DOWNLOAD LAST WEEK. TALK ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE.
“It was a lot of fun. Doing the Dale Sr. helmet was special and taking that to Le Mans this year was a big deal. Dale and I have spoken a bit over the years and texted every now and then, and with him coming to cover the Rolex 24 the last couple of years we formed a small relationship to bounce things off each other. I’d tried to get on the podcast for the last couple of years but timing-wise things never lined up. Now with the Dale Sr. helmet and I was up there last week with Antonio for the simulator, schedules lined up pretty well and it was an awesome experience. I never spent a lot of time with Dale Jr., but it was really cool to talk to him even if it was just sharing stories and hear some of his stories with his dad… reminiscing of their experience at the Rolex 24 and some unique stories from that event were pretty funny. To see the personal side of him and getting to know him as a person… I think we realized we are pretty similar guys – we’re pretty shy and reserved but in certain situations and with certain people, we are pretty comfortable and can open up a lot. I definitely had a good time. It was really cool to see the fan response and the support from everyone. I think it opened a lot of eyes from the NASCAR world to the IMSA world, so I think it’s good to have that cross-over. It would be good to have those types of events.”