Corvette Racing drivers Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Monday ahead of this weekendís IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America and the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
ITíS A BUSY MONTH COMING UP AHEAD FOR THE TEAM. WHATíS YOUR MINDSET AHEAD OF EVERYTHING FOR CORVETTE RACING?
ďItís going to be a busy month, as you said. Itíll be hectic.
I think the biggest part is logistics for the team getting parts, cars and people back and forth between the two. Theyíve been shipping stuff for the past couple of months overseas to get ready for Le Mans.
Timing-wise, itís difficult having Road America this weekend but at the same time itís always good to go racing.
It was a 1-2 last year for Corvette Racing but it was pretty wild circumstances at the end there with the rain.
I think Antonio (Garcia) and Tommy were fourth and fifth on the last restart and survived at the end to get the 1-2.
Hopefully it will be a little cleaner and smoother this year. Itís always been a good track for the team and the car. We did a test there earlier this year kind of prepping for this weekís race and prepping for Le Mans in the low-downforce kit. We feel confident going back there and to Le Mans.Ē
CORVETTE RACINGíS ABSENCE FROM LE MANS LAST YEAR WAS STRANGE. HOW WAS IT FOR YOU NOT RACING AT LE MANS IN 2020 AND HAS IT FUELED YOU TO GET BACK THIS YEAR?
ďWhen you watch it on TV I missed the race in 2018 and 2019 as well thatís when you remember how special it is. When youíre there, youíre in the moment and enjoying it because itís Le Mans. But when youíre away from it and watching it on TV like when you were a kid, you definitely miss it and want to be back.
It motivates you to get back there and be competitive.
Watching last year on TV was difficult. This year if you knew the behind-the-scenes effort that the team has gone through with the resources and getting everything over there, it shows how much it means to the organization and Chevrolet as a whole.
Iíve been getting excited. Iíve been watching old Le Mans races during the days while riding my bike in the garage to get motivated. Iím looking forward to getting back.Ē
TALK ABOUT THE POWER OF MOMENTUM WITH THE RUN YOU AND ANTONIO ARE ON SINCE THE START OF 2020.
ďItís kind of crazy how well itís gone starting in the last year. After the COVID break last year, things have gone so well. Things just clicked, especially on the 3 car side. A lot of things have gone our way strategy-wise.
If you look at the Road America race from last year, we were fourth and fifth until the rain came, and thatís what switched things around and got us back to the lead.
There were a lot of circumstances like that where we shouldnít have been in contention and things just flipped around.
At the same time, you need to be prepared for those opportunities.
The team needs to be prepared to call the strategy on tire changes in that situation. A lot of times that can fall on experience. Weíve had a lot of close battles with the 4 car where they could have very easily gone the other way and they could have won all those races. Putting ourselves in the right position in a lot of times and having the little things going our way a lot of the times.
Antonio and I have been working well together and the chemistry has been good.Ē
CORVETTE HAS USED ROAD AMERICA TO PREPARE FOR LE MANS.
HOW MUCH OF WHAT YOU WILL RUN THIS WEEKEND CAN CARRY OVER TO THOSE FOLLOWING TWO WEEKS?
ďThe test was important. We learned a lot from the very beginning. We started on our sprint configuration and went to low-downforce. From the beginning to the end, we made a bunch of improvements. Had we not had those tests, we would have been learning those things at Le Mans but the time there is crucial to get on track.
We had two days there with low-downforce, and I think Tommy has done 45 days in the simulator around Le Mans with me watching! Weíve put in a lot of time and effort into it. A lot of it is also coming from that simulator time where we saw last year how important, how crucial and how well it worked.
That was reiterated and confirmed at our Road America test as well.
We knew from the simulation what to expected and what kind of changes we wanted to make. Itís looking positive from that point of view for Le Mans.Ē
DOES TOMMY DO MOST OF THE LE MANS SIMULATION WORK?
DO YOU BOTH PARTICIPATE OR IS IT BETTER TO GET A BASELINE FROM ONE GUY AND WORK OFF THAT?
ďI do my fair share! Usually each test is two days and two drivers, and each of us will have our own program.
Tommy has been the Le Mans guy most of the days Iíve been there, and then my project would be Lime Rock prep or Road America prep.
My focus would be on one thing and his focus would be on one thing.
That way every time you get back in the sim, you have something to relate to. Sometimes when you go track to track, it can take a run or two to adjust your brain to what that package is doing to give accurate feedback.
Over time, the engineers have developed this process thatís shown to have the best result. Even these days when we go, there are things being adjusted to make it more accurate from a driver and feedback point of view.
When I was doing Lime Rock prep, itís like a 10-lap run and Iíd be done in five minutes and Tommy would get in for his 10 laps and Iíd sit there for an hour watching him!Ē
TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH FANS MAKE LE MANS WHAT IT IS, AND HOW PLEASED ARE YOU THAT WE WILL HAVE SOME KIND OF FAN ATTENDANCE AT THIS YEARíS RACE?
ďIíll never forget my first time there in 2012.
I flew over for the Test Day, was 20 years old and was just a little GRAND-AM driver here in America. I walked from the paddock to the pitlane and got stopped by like 10 people who knew my name and had pictures of me printed out of all my different GRAND-AM cars.
In America, we have a great fanbase especially with Corvette Racing. When you go to Le Mans, itís a very unique group of sports car fans. Itís very special.
It will be missed but it itíll be good to have at least some attendance. Missing the parade and some of those things will change a bit of the atmosphere.
ďMy dad used to say that in NASCAR and Formula One, the fans know the drivers.
In sports car racing, all drivers know the fans. In a lot of aspects, itís true.
When you go to Sebring, you have the cows, the monks and the group at Turn 10, and you get to know them.
When you go to Le Mans, there are unique people like Therťse (Heurtebize), and I think Tommy got knighted in 2015 by a group of British fans there, plus the Nerdmans come from Spain. That quote is true in a lot of aspects. When we go to those events, you expect to see these people every time.
So it will be a little bit sad if we donít get to see those same people but hopefully in a few years it will be back to normal so we can see all our fans again that we recognize every time we go back.Ē
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R
WHATíS YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS APPROACHING THE MONTH OF AUGUST WITH ROAD AMERICA AND LE MANS?
ďOur thought process has been pretty heavy on Le Mans in many ways. Itís been a topic of discussion quite a bit within the team. But obviously we have had other things to focus on with Lime Rock in previous weeks and now Road America as well. Itís a very balanced approach. Jordan and I were in the sim recently working on Le Mans and Road America.
There is a lot going on, for sure. The first focus is Road America but Iím sure the topic for many of our meetings will be focusing on Le Mans as well.
Thereís a lot going on for Corvette Racing right now and focusing on one day a time in many ways. Itís busy but exciting.Ē
CORVETTE RACINGíS ABSENCE FROM LE MANS LAST YEAR WAS STRANGE.
HOW WAS IT FOR YOU NOT RACING AT LE MANS IN 2020 AND HAS IT FUELED YOU TO GET BACK THIS YEAR?
ďI donít think any of us has taken going to Le Mans for granted. The amount of effort and attention that gets paid toward that race by this team, the engineers, the crew guys and us as drivers we donít take it lightly.
Having missed last year and watching it on TV for the first time in many years, certainly the excitement ramps up for going back there again this year.
Obviously itís not exactly the same Le Mans experience without the public scrutineering and things like that. The world is still a little uncertain at times but weíre excited to go back. There has been a lot of time and effort spent with this Corvette C8.R to make it as good as we can for Le Mans.
We donítí know exactly how good it will be until we get there. I think for all of us, weíre excited for what the car can be or could be. Weíre excited to see how it goes.Ē
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO SEE YOUR TEAMMATES HAVE THE SUCCESS THEYíVE BEEN HAVING WHEN YOU AND NICK (TANDY) ARE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR?
ďThere are moments of frustration for sure. For us on the 4 car, last year there were times where we missed it with setup and strategy.
There was a conscious effort as the year was winding down last year to make a better effort to improve in those areas. We started to make some headway there, and in the offseason we continued to go over those things with the team and our engineers the things that we thought were working well for us and the areas where we needed to improve.
This year with Nick, he brings a fresh perspective on it. All things considered, weíve had good races. We just havenít had a whole lot of luck in certain situations. The 3 car guys have had great cars, have made the right strategy calls and done everything right. So in that sense they deserve all the success theyíve had. For us, there have had times where weíve had the opportunities and for some reason or another sometimes itís bad luck and sometimes itís of our own doing in not getting everything 100 percent right.
Frustration is part of it but itís not like desperation.
Having been on this time for a long time, I really like the direction this car is going. We are making better decisions, making the right pit calls, making good setup decisions and changes. From that side, I couldnít be happier. If Nick and I replay the year a little bit, itís one little thing here and one little thing there, and oftentimes those are just racing things.
At Watkins Glen, we were looking pretty good and the front swaybar broke. Those little moments when they start stacking up, thatís where the frustration comes in. But we have to stay focused on what is working for us and the things that we can improve on. We are finding and exploring every other area that we think can be improved and continue on that path. If we keep doing that, then we will have success.
I donít think there needs to be any kind of wholesale change on our side. Itís a matter of continuing down the path we have been going. If we continue do to that, weíll be in good shape.Ē
HOW MUCH EMPHASIS DO YOU AND NICK NOW PUT ON LE MANS?
HOW MUCH WOULD A LE MANS WIN TURN THINGS AROUND?
ďA Le Mans win pretty much trumps everything else. Every year, the team has in general joked that if we won Le Mans and we crashed every other race, it would still be a successful year.
Thatís a bit of a joke obviously, but a lot of emphasis is put on this race. Itís the biggest sports car race in the world and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Those two wins at Le Mans in my career are two highlights.
Every year I feel like we have a chance to get another win, and this year we will see. We feel good obviously, but with a new car there is still a little bit of an unknown. We donít have any track time there yet with this car, but we feel good about all the preparation weíve done.
We feel good about it and excited about the opportunity with this C8.R. For us on the 4 car side, it would be a great way to turn our year around and fix all the bad luck weíve had.Ē
THE TWO CORVETTES HAVE RACED EACH OTHER HARD THIS YEAR.
WHEN YOU GO TO LE MANS AND ITíS A LARGER FIELD IS THAT DETREMENT OR DO THE BATTLES YOUíVE BEEN IN FEEL LIKE THEYíRE ENOUGH TO MAKE SURE YOUíRE SHARP?
ďThere have only been two or three races where itís just been the two of us battling.
With Daytona, Sebring and the Watkins Glen Six Hours, and having the BMW guys there, theyíve been a huge competitor and continually challenge us.
It hasnít felt, to be honest, so far this year that the field is small.
Part of that is that we havenít had tons of races like that but also the challenge of racing our teammates has been pretty big.
The race weekends donít feel a whole lot different. Those felt like big battles.
So far, the feeling and atmosphere within the team hasnít changed. The Porsche guys are still quick. From that aspect, that hasnít changed dramatically and some of that could be the attention put on Le Mans and understanding that we will have a big challenge there.
Part of the team was over there in Spa for the Six Hours there, so the team is still in this mode of maximizing every single thing at the track.
A lot of that energy and motivation comes from knowing we do have this big challenge coming up at Le Mans. The team has stayed pretty focused on that.Ē
TEMPERATURES THIS WEEKEND LOOK LIKE THEY COULD BE RELATIVELY COOL.
IS TIRE DEGRADATION STILL A BIG ISSUE AT ROAD AMERICA WITH 70 DEGREE TEMPERATURES?
The last couple of years it has been quite warm. It seems like more these days with the tire compound options from Michelin that itís more about making sure you are on the right compound. That kind of takes care of the degradation issue in that sense. Sometimes we are in between compounds and trying to figure out what the right combination is or the right compound to be on can be tricky.
It seems like Road America is a little bit of an outlier in some sense for what we maybe normally run for most of the season. Itís a place where weíre always second-guessing our compound choice because of the track surface and the high-speed nature of the track.
Weíll treat it as a nice challenge in that sense of making sure we are doing everything we can to get on the right tire as soon as we can in the practice sessions and be able to work from there.
The plan is for us to run as we would normally run there for an IMSA weekend, which is the higher downforce spec. I donít think the team is planning to run a low downforce spec in preparation for Le Mans. The plan is to run our normal sprint package. In that case, itís kind of business as usual for the team.
Because of the testing weíve done and the work weíve done in the sim, we have a good baseline for Le Mans.
The focus will be maximizing the race weekend at Elkhart Lake and doing the best we can there with the best package for that racetrack.Ē
TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH FANS MAKE LE MANS WHAT IT IS, AND HOW PLEASED ARE YOU THAT WE WILL HAVE SOME KIND OF FAN ATTENDANCE AT THIS YEARíS RACE?
ďLe Mans is not just the race itself.
It is the atmosphere of the racetrack, the energy the fans bring, the energy that the race itself brings and the history of it. Having fans there will make it feel a bit more normal.
Missing some of the other aspects of the event like scrutineering in town and the driversí parade and things that are just big moments of the weekendÖ they all add to the whole show that is Le Mans. From that aspect, those will be missed but having fans there in whatever capacity they are is great.
As the years have gone and us as drivers being involved in the race, the few opportunities that Iíve had to watch the racecars go around at speed in-person close to the track, it reminds you of how special it is to see these cars in-person and at full speed.
For a lot of European fans, it will be the first time to see the Corvette C8.R. Hopefully it all goes smoothly and the fans have a good time.Ē