CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING: Pre-Race Media Conference Transcript

Jul 13 2020 Randall Shinn 2020, News, Sebring Comments Off on CORVETTE RACING AT SEBRING: Pre-Race Media Conference Transcript

MSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
CADILLAC GRAND PRIX OF SEBRING
PRE-RACE MEDIA AVAILABILITY TRANSCRIPT
JULY 13, 2020

Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor (No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R) along with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner (No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R) met with members of the media during a teleconference to discuss the team’s recent victory at Daytona, development of the mid-engine Corvette C8.R and the outlook for this weekend’s Cadillac Grand Prix at Sebring. FULL TRANSCRIPT:

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
TALK ABOUT THE SATISFACTION OF WINNING AT SEBRING FOR THE TEAM’S 100TH VICTORY.

“It was definitely a good race for us. Knowing that it was the 100th win for Corvette Racing was very special. We had been waiting for a long time since the 99th victory. I wish there had been more victories with C7.R but getting this win with everything going on this year was a blessing for everyone. After five months of not having track activity, it meant a lot to the guys who had never stopped working on the development of the C8.R. We knew we had a better car right away (compared to the Rolex 24), but we had to prove it on the track. On the first very laps two weeks ago, I could really tell a big difference in the car from the Daytona 24 Hours.”

WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO DO IN THE WEEK OR SO SINCE DAYTONA IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE TEAM, AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO TAKE FROM DAYTONA THAT YOU CAN USE FOR SEBRING?
“Mainly what we could do was fill in with more details a report regarding the Daytona race. The engineers now have hard work analyzing all the data. That’s basically all we can do at this time. They came back to us with all they could see in their data to prepare us for the next race. For us, it’s not a ton of work to be done. It’s more work on the engineering side, and I think we have the best engineers and mechanics behind us. They probably went down to every single bolt on the car and I’m sure they rebuilt the whole car again. I’m sure we learned something from this past race on every aspect – speed and things that we can get fixed for the next race. This is still a very young car, and we are still on a learning curve.”

IN THIS BREAK, OTHER THAN YOU BEING IN FLORIDA, IS THIS DIFFERENT FOR YOU? WOULD YOU HAVE GONE BACK TO SPAIN AND THEN COME BACK, OR IS THE PROCEDURE NOW THE SAME IN TERMS OF COMMUNICATION?
“It would have been the same. We decided to stay here (near Clearwater, Fla.). We’ve been doing a really good job of staying away from everyone and doing our job. I’ve been living with Olly now for three weeks. All you can do is keep training and looking at all the data the engineers send you and thinking a lot about the next race because there isn’t a ton of things to do (outside of race prep).”

WILL CONDITIONS BE A LOT DIFFERENT AT SEBRING THAN WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE FACED IN MARCH?
“I don’t know if it will be that much different than it usually is at the Sebring 12 Hours. We probably found way different track conditions during the Daytona 24 race, because there it can get warm but usually it can get very cold during the night. At Sebring, we’ve had quite a few races where it was very, very hot anyway. During the last test we did in February, from what I remember it was not as warm as it is now, but it felt pretty close. But this is a different time of year and the sunset might be different, so that will be something we will experience in a different way. From what I remember, the sunset is usually at the worst point during the March race, so I hope it’s going down in another place other than when you are going into Turn Seven and Turn 17. Other than that, we need to follow the conditions and wait to see what the track temperature will be. Sebring is one of the tracks where we test the most and those are always in different conditions. We need to find out the tire allocation and compounds we have. We need to test those early and see what the best combination. From that point we’ll use all the data we have to get the best car for the race.”

BEING STUCK IN FLORIDA, ARE YOU EXPECTING TO BE THERE INDEFINITELY? DO YOU SEE ANY POINT IN THE SEASON WHERE YOU’LL BE ABLE TO GO BACK HOME TO SPAIN?
“The plan is to stay until after Road America. After that we have two off weekends, and as far as I know we will fly back right after that race. There will be a three-week break then almost, and so far it seems like things look better at home than in the U.S. at the moment. I don’t see why there would be an issue for us to go back, but we will all discuss that and see how things develop. We are still almost a month away from that, so we need to wait and see how everything goes. I do have a ticket to fly back so that’s the plan, but everything can change.”

DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY DAYS OF TESTING YOU’VE AT SEBRING IN THE C8.R?
“I don’t. We did a couple of tests – the one in February and another where we ran at night. It was just those two. It’s been quite awhile since the very first one there. The car changes so much so even if there was a test a year or year-and-a-half from now, it would be way different than at this time. Luckily enough one of the last tests we did was at Sebring so hopefully the car will be almost as it was then. That will be a plus for us. It will be different for the next few races onward since we will have to rediscover the car on all the new tracks that we will be at.”
TALK ABOUT HOW YOU EXPECT THE CORVETTE TO DO AROUND WATKINS GLEN.
“I think it’s going to be a great car around there. The C7.R was really good around Watkins Glen, and we had a lot of success there. This car, though, will be very, very fun to drive around there. When that time comes, we’ll be a few races into the season and will have raced at Sebring, Road America and VIR. So our car will be a little more developed and everything should be better for The Glen. I’m looking forward to that track for sure. Probably the next four races are probably my favorite tracks.”

JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
IS IT A RELIEF TO GET THE FIRST WIN FOR THE C8.R AND YOUR FIRST WIN AS FULL-TIME DRIVER ALREADY?

“It’s great to get that first win early on. The team is always expecting to win, although going into the Rolex it was a big unknown with a brand new car in the Corvette C8.R. Once we got to the halfway point, I think we all thought we could have won that race with how strong we were out of the box. Going back to Daytona with everything we learned through January and during the COVID period, going to the simulators and the engineers working as hard as they did, we knew we were going to have a good shot of winning at Daytona. So for me personally, it’s great to get my first win for the team since 2015 (24 Hours of Le Mans), my first with Antonio and obviously the first for the C8.R and 100th for the team. It’s a lot of milestones but I’m glad we could do it after this huge break to show that everyone’s hard work paid off.”

YOU’LL BE RACING CLOSE TO HOME THIS WEEKEND. WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?
“It definitely will be different going to Sebring for a sprint race as opposed to the 12 Hour. For me, I haven’t raced at Sebring in a GT car since 2013, so I’ll have to get used to the points on the track where I’ll need to look in the mirror again and get used to that. The closing speeds of the prototypes in the high-speed corners will be something to get used to. Like Antonio said, we’ve been to Sebring through testing when it’s been warm. When we tested there ahead of the 12 Hours, it was pretty hot and I was personally very shocked at how good the car behaved in those hot conditions. Sebring is very temperature sensitive. Usually when you start the race late in the morning and get into the early afternoon when it’s really warm, you can struggle for pace and balance. All throughout our testing in those two days we did, the car was very well-balanced. It bodes well for us that we were able to get that test in before the COVID shutdown and were able to take the data that we learned there to the simulator for a couple days to get a head start on the weekend.”

ANTONIO MENTIONED THE CAR WAS A LOT BETTER AT DAYTONA THE SECOND TIME AROUND. DID YOU MAKE THOSE CHANGES FOR THE TEST AT SEBRING?
“It’s been awhile and I can’t remember exactly what has changed. The car was developed before I was in the picture, and they did a couple of days at Sebring before I was on the team, and then earlier this year we did the two days. A lot of the correlation work that’s been done on the simulator has expedited that development process. I saw in November with how well the simulator and the correlation works. You can do a change in the simulator and then do it at the racetrack… I did it months apart where I drove in the sim and then in the racecar and gave some feedback on a change. When I gave that feedback in real life, it lined up perfectly. Those changes that we are able to make during these times when we weren’t allowed to do track testing, we can rely on those a little bit better and that showed at Daytona. We couldn’t do much track testing before that event, but we were able to put a lot of things on the car that we learned at the simulator, and it proved to work there. I think the same thing could be the case at Sebring.”

YOU OFFERED UP YOUR SERVICES FOR THE NASCAR RACEWEEK AT DAYTONA IN AUGUST. DID YOU GET ANY OFFERS OR IS THERE ANYTHING ON THE TABLE?
“Kind of. I got an ARCA offer and I don’t know if you’d call it an offer in a Cup car… the conversation was a little bit confusing. I’ve always wanted to do a NASCAR road course race. I’m a big fan of that style of racing in that type of car. I’d love to try it. Daytona is a home track for me, and I’d be right around the corner. Obviously, I have a lot of laps around there. I’m not sure how the weekend will work. Seeing what they’ve done these past few races where they have no practices and go straight into the race, a guy with a little bit of track experience could have maybe a small advantage at the beginning even though I’m sure a lot of those guys probably have done a lot of simulator work as well. It obviously would be a big learning curve to jump into one of those cars and figure it out at the same time. I’d definitely love to try it if there is an opportunity, hopefully in a Chevrolet vehicle.”

WHEN YOU SAY CONFUSING, DOES THAT MEAN YOU’RE NOT SURE IF THEY WANT TO PUT YOU IN A CAR, DO THEY WANT YOU TO CONSULT?
“It was like, ‘Hey do you want do this?’ And yeah I’d love to do this, but am I just coming to drive? And then they’re like, ‘We need to figure out if we can raise the money for it.’ That’s always kind of the case for those teams that offer those sorts of situations. It’s tough. You don’t want to be labeled as a guy who is going to bring money to a ride. If you get labeled as that, you’re going to get stuck in that position. I don’t want to get in a car to be battling for 35th to 40th, but if it gets my face in the NASCAR scene for a road course event, that’s not a bad thing either.”

YOU GOT PRETTY CLOSE LAST YEAR WITH AN XFINITY RACE, RIGHT?
“Yeah, I thought I was doing Mid-Ohio and Watkins Glen last year. It was pretty much a done deal, but it fell through at the last minute. I was getting ready to go off to see the team and meet everyone. I was really excited about that. I’d love another opportunity to come around. Daytona being right here is even better than a Mid-Ohio or Road America for that matter.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT THE C8.R BEING BETTER THE SECOND TIME AROUND AT DAYTONA. WERE THERE ANY PLACES THAT STICK OUT WHERE YOU WERE NOTICIBLY BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITORS?
“It’s hard to say. I didn’t really get into much battling as Antonio did in the race. My stint was kind of weird with the damp start on slicks and then it going dry. From a drivability point of view, the guys did a lot of work with the engine calibration and the drivability of the engine. There were a lot of little things that we were complaining about during the Rolex weekend that were really fine-tuned for when we came back, whether it was traction control or throttle mapping. Things like that make a driver a little bit happier. Balance-wise, there were some small improvements overall. Daytona mostly has slow-speed corners, so in all the horseshoes the car felt better rotation-wise without losing traction. So the overall package was improved.”

YOU TALKED ABOUT BEFORE DAYTONA WAS GETTING USED TO BEING BACK IN A GT CAR, BUT SEBRING WILL BE COMPLETLEY DIFFERENT WHEN IT COMES TO DEALING WITH PROTOYPE TRAFFIC. WHAT DID YOU TAKE FROM DAYTONA TO HELP AT SEBRING?
“Thankfully when we went back to Daytona I was a little more prepared, but on the Rolex weekend I got a really big scare from one of the Mazdas in the Dogleg. In a prototype, you don’t realize the closing speeds. When you forget to look at the mirror before the Dogleg and they come flying by you at the exit, it’ll definitely wake you up. Looking at Sebring where we have a lot more of those high-speed corners like Turn One, Turn 17 and the back half of the track, I’ll have to get used to looking in the mirror in certain spots again. At Daytona, you can look at it in certain spots and know if you can relax or not. I’ll have to learn those same little habits and tendencies throughout Sebring.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
HOW QUICKLY HAS THE CORVETTE C8.R DEVELOPED INTO A FRONT-RUNNING GTLM CAR?

“First and foremost, it was good to be back racing again and be back at the racetrack. It was good for us, the crew and engineers to get back going again. Obviously, it was a great result for the team with a pole for Olly and a win for the No. 3 in the end. The car showed great pace throughout practice and in the race. We can be proud of the effort the guys put on in the five-month break after the Rolex 24 where we were quick for sure but maybe didn’t quite have the pace of the other cars. Daytona earlier this month was a great result for the team. For us in the No. 4 car, we were a little unlucky with the strategy. The pace was good. I’m excited to keep racing and going to Sebring this coming week to see how the car does there.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE EXPERIENCE OF TESTING AT SEBRING ALREADY WILL PLAY INTO THIS WEEKEND?
“With the C8.R being a new car, some of these racetracks we won’t have tested at in person. Fortunately, Sebring is one of the places we have tested so that should be to our strength a little bit. We’ve done some simulator testing at Sebring as well, so having that experience and in real life should shorten any learning curve we might have. We still have some areas we’d like to improve obviously. The car was pretty good at Daytona. The team has such a long history at Sebring that there’s a lot we can pull from with past experiences and the testing we have done with this car to start the weekend off strong and hopefully improve a little bit as we did at Daytona to give us another great chance at the race.”

IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE IN SETUP AND PREPARATION FOR A SPRINT RACE AT SEBRING COMPARED TO HOW IT WAS INITIALLY PREPPED FOR THE 12 HOURS?
“I don’t think fundamentally it’s a huge change. For prep of the car, the biggest difference is probably brake compounds. But otherwise, the engine, gearbox and suspension… we don’t have an endurance spec of those pieces. The car fundamentally, as far as I’m aware, is the same for sprint races and endurance races. The biggest difference is the brake package. The idea, of course, for Sebring would be not to have to make a brake change for the 12 Hours. With the sprint race coming up, the brake compound will be the only major difference we would have seen from the 12 Hours to this race.”

HOW MUCH EFFORT HAS BEEN PUT INTO THE CORRELATION BETWEEN THE SIMULATOR AND THE REAL CAR? WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN SOMETHING YOU WANTED TO WORK IN EVEN WITHOUT THE COVID SITUATION?
“Before there even was a C8.R racecar… we were already driving iterations of what the race car is now in our simulator that Chevy has in Charlotte. It has been a huge part of this car’s development process and will continue to be. It’s something the team is constantly improving. Even with C7.R, after race events oftentimes we would correlate changes we would make at the track and go back through and run through those changes on the simulator to see if everything correlates as we expected. It allowed the engineering team to improve both the chassis and tire models. The simulator continues to be a big part of making the most use of the track time we get. It helps accelerate the development process of taking something that is brand new like the C8.R and accelerating the process to get it race-ready in a shorter amount of time. During the COVID situation, we weren’t allowed to test on the simulator for a number of months. But before we got back to the racetrack, we had the chance to get back in the simulator. It was good for us as drivers and the engineers to have those tests where we are able to get back in the car and get things back going again.”

THE 12 HOURS GOES FROM MORNING AND FINISHES WELL INTO DARKNESS SO YOU GO THROUGH THIS WIDE TEMPERATURE PATTERN. THIS WILL OBVIOUSLY BE MUCH DIFFERENT. DOES THAT ALSO NARROW DOWN THE SETUP THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO PUT IN THE CAR BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMPROMISE OVER A SHORTER PERIOD?
“I think in 2016 we were expecting some heavy rain at some point, and some teams gambled with more of a wet setup and others went with a dry setup. The only thing that our simulator can’t do yet is simulate rain conditions, so that’s a situation where we don’t have a ton of time in this C8.R. We are eager to drive it more in the wet to get that experience. Hopefully if rain is to come for the race, we get some of those conditions in practice to learn as much as we can. We’ve seen in the past with C7.R that there is a setup that is ideal for wet conditions, but oftentimes if the balance is good in the dry then it’s good in the wet as well.”

WITH TEMPERATURE EXTREMES, WE’VE BEEN DOWN THERE WITH A 20-DEGREE DELTA FROM START TO FINISH. YOU’D THINK THE DELTA WILL BE SMALLER IN THIS RACE WINDOW. DOES THAT ALLOW YOU FOCUS ON A PINPOINT SETUP?
“Sebring, in its normal time slot in March, can be super-hot in the daytime and chilly at night. With that, we’d often see ourselves running two or three tire compounds throughout the race. That isn’t going to be factor for this race. Each compound doesn’t typically have a huge balance change from one to the other. But if we are expecting a certain temperature range and it falls in line with only using one compound, then we can hone the setup in on that. For sure that’s another aspect of this sprint race and running it at this time of the year that is different from the 12 Hours and what we are used to.”

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
WAS THERE SATISFACTION WITH THE TEAM RESULTS FROM DAYTONA, AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THIS PROGRAM AS IT GOES FORWARD?

“It was great to get pole position at Daytona. I really enjoyed that lap. The car really did come together in qualifying, and it was a huge amount of fun to drive. I think everyone who has driven the C8.R would say that the feedback and enjoyment you get when it gets hooked up and starts to roll is fantastic. It was great to see that we could get a clean sweep on the front row in qualifying, and it was great to see the No. 3 get the victory. Our strategy didn’t play out that day, but that’s the way it is. We’re two cars from one team that is striving to get race wins and ultimately a championship. It’s very exciting to get the racing started back and get going. It’ll be great to go to Sebring where we have tested and had success there. We understand the bumps and how the Florida weather can work. I seem to remember Tommy giving us a fantastic victory there in 2016 and dealing with tricky conditions. This time of year, it can really throw up anything. It definitely will be warm, so we’ll be ready for that.”

WITH A FRONT-ENGINE CAR, YOU GET A LOT OF HEATSOAK THROUGH THE PEDALS IN REGARD TO COCKPIT TEMPERATURE. DO YOU NOTICE A DIFFERENCE WITH THE NEW LAYOUT?
“It is different. The team has been working very hard on what makes the cabin hot and where we need to do some work. Daytona was another datapoint for that. We’ve gone away and studied that, and Sebring will be another good test. We do have a good A/C system in the car, and Corvette Racing have invested a lot in that. When you get in the car, you hear all the fans running and feel a lot of air moving in the cabin, which is good. Ultimately the truth and the reality of it is will it work well in the race. At Daytona, I don’t’ think we got a full test because it wasn’t that hot in the race; it was sort of overcast and we had some rain that cooled things off. If we have a real scorching Saturday at Sebring, I think that’ll give it a real thorough test. Everyone feels it is a good system. We don’t have any real issues with temperature of the pedals so that’s a nice thing. We have a good system that blows air through the back of the seat, so that’s another thing that’s working well. We have Stand21 suits that we’ve been running for years and are working with those guys. Fingers crossed for Sebring. Our cooling system is a solid piece and something we’ll be able to rely on.”

WERE THE REVISED TRACK SCHEDULE AND COVID PROTOCOLS A BIG ADJUSTMENT?
“It was a little bit of an adjustment, but IMSA did a great job. It was fantastic to see how structured they were and how we got into the track. Everything went very smoothly and very well. You have to say that IMSA and Daytona did a fantastic job in managing everyone coming in. The fans that were there were kept in their own area, and it was very good in terms of distancing. I expect it to be very similar for Sebring. I’m comfortable with it and what we’ve done IMSA has done a great job getting us back racing.”

HOW MANY MILES HAVE YOU PUT ON YOUR BIKE IN THE U.S. SO FAR?
“I haven’t really counted miles, but I think it’s somewhere close to maybe 1,000 miles. I cooked myself yesterday and got ridiculously hot! I felt better today so it’s all good preparation for Sebring!”