C8.R Corvette Daytona Debut was Solid, Could Have Gone Better
The all-new, mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette is the biggest automotive news of 2020, and with a new generation of the fabled American sports car comes a refreshed racing program. The Corvette Racing teams got their first official on-track action this past weekend at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and in the grand scheme things, it could have gone a whole lot worse. Then again, it could have gone a whole lot better, too.
Both cars finished and the #3 Corvette spent some time leading the class, but the #4 car ran into serious mechanical issues in the 9th hour and in the end, neither car finished on the class-leading lap. However, this was technically the fastest Rolex 24 that the Corvette Racing team, covering 2,794.6 miles from start to finish.
Corvette C8.R Fast Early
The 2020 Rolex 24 started off well for the new Corvette race cars, with both teams battling with the competitors from Porsche, BMW and Ferrari during the first third of a the race. The #3 C8.R spent some time in the early stages at the front of the GTLM class and at the 8-hour mark, the debut of the new Corvette race car couldn’t have been going any better.
However, around the 9th hour, the #4 Corvette developed a severe oil leak. This forced the team into the garage area to diagnose the problem. The problem was quickly discovered, but fixing the leak required the team to remove the engine from the car. In total, the fix swallowed up roughly 9 hours, taking the #4 Corvette C8.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler completely out of contention.
In some cases, a problem that took 9 hours to fix would have led the team to throw in the towel, but the Corvette Racing program wanted to get as many laps in as possible, so the repairs were made and the #4 finished the race. The latter stages were used for evaluating different suspension and tire settings, while also giving the drivers more competition seat time.
In the end, the #4 Corvette finished 7th in the 7-car class and 36th overall in the 38-car field. The trio of Gavin, Milner and Fässler completed 461 laps, finishing 325 laps behind the class leader and 372 laps behind the overall winner.
Strong Showing for #3
While mechanical gremlins ruined the 2020 Rolex 24 for the #4 Corvette Racing team, things went much better for the #3 car. The trio of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg led the GTLM class in the early stages of the race and the team’s best lap time of 1:42.364 (run by Jordan Taylor) was second-quickest in the class. The only quicker lap was a 1:42.168, run by Jesse Krohn who drove the class-winning #24 BMW M8 GTE.
Really, the #3 Corvette C8.R was just as quick as the rest of the cars in the class throughout the entire 24-hour race, but there was one obvious metric where Chevy trailed the competition. The #3 Corvette finished 4th in the GTLM class, with a BMW and two Porsche 911s claiming the three podium positions. Those three cars each pitted 27 times in the 24-hour race, whereas the #3 Corvette pitted 29 times. Those two extra pit stops account for the one-lap difference between the Corvette and the top three finishers in the class. Based on this, you would think that the IMSA Balance of Performance system would allow the Corvette to add some fuel capacity, as without those two extra stops, the C8.R would have been in the hunt for the class win at the end.
In any case, the #3 Corvette finished 4th, one lap behind the class winner and 48 laps back of the overall winner in the Daytona Prototype class. The key point with this strong finish is that with 785 laps run, this is the most mileage ever driven by the Corvette Racing program in its legendary tenure at the Rolex 24. In other words, the new Corvette race car covered more ground in 24 hours than any of the C5, C6 or C7 variants. Of course, the event conditions play into that, as fewer cautions and clear weather lead to more speed and more laps, but aside from fuel mileage, the debut of the C8.R couldn’t have gone much better for the #3 Corvette.
Plus, Chevrolet was happy to see both cars finish the race in the debut of the newest generation Corvette race car.
"It was a tremendous honor to debut the Corvette C8.R at the Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona – 22 years after we debuted the C5-R in the same location," said Jim Campbell, US Vice President Performance and Motorsports. "I’m so proud of our team and how they prepared and executed the race with the 2020 mid-engine Corvette. I can’t wait for the rest of the season and watch the excitement from our fans grow with every race."
Patrick Rall is a professional writer and photographer with a passion for all things automotive. Patrick has been sharing his automotive expertise in automotive journalism from Detroit for more than a decade covering the Big Three. Having grown up in his father’s performance shop, he spent extensive time at the oval track and drag strip – both driving and wrenching on various types of vehicles. In addition to working as a writer, Patrick previously worked as an automotive technician before moving on to a business office position with a chain of dealerships, and this broad spectrum of experience in the industry allows him to offer a unique look on the automotive world. Follow Patrick on Youtube and Twitter. Find more of Patrick's stories at Torque News Dodge. Search Torque News Dodge for more Dodge Challenger and Charger coverage from our expert reporters.