Corvette Racing is back at Circuit de la Sarthe for the 22nd time. Unfortunately, it’s not 22 years in a row, due to the COVID-19 situation in 2020, so they opted to skip that race.
2022 is no normal year either for the American team. They are traditionally racing two cars in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but they have decided to go for one car in the USA and one car in the FIA World Endurance Championship. The reason that is they have to run a GT3-alike spec in the USA in GTD Pro, while they still utilizes the GTE/GTLM spec at Le Mans. So in order to arrive at Le Mans with a tested and raced car- and tire package, they decided to split the programmes this year.
Jordan Taylor is part of car #63, which is the “American” car, and he is happy to be back at Le Mans. It’s his 8th Le Mans, but it’s still something special to race there each year. We got to talk with him prior to the Thursday running, and the first question was, if he was missing driving the GTE spec Corvette C8.R?
“Yeah, I was definitely missing it. I think, the way the rules has gone in IMSA, with the ABS and the spec Michelin tires, they have taken a bit of the edge away from what the car was designed and build to do. So from a drivers perspective, the GTE car is a bit more rewarding – a bit more challenging. So it’s good to be back in the car. I was definitely missing, driving on the edge of a car like this, so it’s nice to be back.”
The GT3 spec is pointed a bit more towards gentlemen drivers, despite Corvette not running gentlemen drivers…
“Yeah, I’ve always said that the ABS takes away a bit of the skill of the driver. The races now, you get a mix of Pro’s and Am’s, that really can break at the same point, because they know that there is no real risk of going off the track. So for me, it takes the enjoyment out of it, a little bit, having those extra driver aids, but the one positive for IMSA is that it’s brought the grid back – to having more cars, more competition. The last two years we had there weren’t fantastic with three to five cars. So it’s nice to now have the competition back, and to be back to proper racing.”
How many tires have you flatspotted this week?
(cheeky grin from Jordan)
“Yeah, I was very nervous this week, coming back to it – I didn’t know how long it would take. But honestly, when I sat in the car, and left the pits, I didn’t even think about it. And thankfully, I didn’t just stand on the pedal. I did have one big lockup last night, but that was just my own mistake from pushing it too hard. But yeah, I was very happy that there wasn’t a big adjustment to learn again.”
You have only been to Le Mans once before in this C8.R spec, but you have done many laps around this track.
“Anytime you come back, it still feels a bit like a learning experience. The track changes so much throughout the week, as the rubber goes down. It’s always some small details they have changed – the track limits or the curbs, so it’s always interesting. It’s such a long lap, so you only see it a couple of times a day, so you are always trying to exploit the limits in each session, and compare at the end of the day with your teammates – to see where you are losing and where you gaining, and what you can work on.”
“I started here in 2012, and then skipped ’18-’19-’20, so I’ve been here a few times. But it’s still – it’s weird. Everytime I come back, it feels like somewhat of a new experience, just because I’m so used to race in America, and I know those tracks so well – I’ve grown up there. So everytime I leave the country, it feels a bit different.”
Would you like to do a FIA WEC programme as well, if possible, or do you like the American tracks?
“I love the American tracks, but I would never say no to more racing. I think the format of racing, I enjoy the American style, where we have Full Course Yellow, and the restarts. I love that we are always door to door, and battling with someone. I love that aspect of American racing, in how we create a bit of a show sometime, but you always feels like you have a chance – even if you have a problem early in the race, you can kinda come back, and have a chance of still winning.”
This week, there are 6 direct competitors in the GTE Pro category. How do you think about the prospect of ending up on the podium? Your pace has been good so far.
“If you look at the grid, every car has a chance to win, if you look at the line-ups and the teams. For us, we are just focusing on our own thing, and we have been surprised about where we have been on the timesheets every session. The car does feel really good – last year was the first time with this car – so we obviously went back and worked a lot in the sim, to make gains. Because when we were here last year, we didn’t have a ton of time to make big development, so between then and now we have made some big changes, and it’s a big gain on the track.”
How many days have you had in the GTE spec since last year?
“I’ve had two days since last year. I did at tiretest at Sebring, after the 12 hours, and that’s been all the time that I’ve had in the GTE. So it’s a bit of a learning curve coming back this week, but thankfully we are back up to speed pretty quickly.”
Does the cockpit change a lot from one spec to the other?
“The only thing that changes is the WEC flagging system – in IMSA we don’t have anything like this. That is one thing. The slow zones are different, so there is a couple of buttons that is different. But other than that, it’s pretty similar. They send us a 20 page report of all the buttons, and what to learn. You’ll learn one page, and ask on the radio – what will this button do? – You never learn enough, because there is always something new and different.”
Corvette Racing #63 qualified in second position for the race, right next to their teammates in #64, which grabbed Pole Position. Jordan Taylor races alongside his IMSA teammate Antonio Garcia, and Nicky Catsburg, who is the the extra endurance driver with the team.