First pole at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for GTLM Championship co-leader
BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 16, 2020) – Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia captured pole position at Petit Le Mans on Friday with the fastest time in GT Le Mans (GTLM) during qualifying for the 10-hour race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – his first at the circuit.
Garcia, in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, posted a record-setting lap of 1:15.163 (121.655 mph) to secure the top starting spot in another close fight among the GTLM. Garcia, GTLM Drivers Championship co-leader with teammate Jordan Taylor, was 0.271 seconds clear of Connor De Phillippi in second. Friday’s pole time was nearly a half-second faster than the previous mark set in September’s six-hour race.
Garcia gave Corvette Racing its first pole position at Road Atlanta since 2008, and the team is going for its first victory there since 2010. He and Taylor will drive in Saturday’s enduro with Nicky Catsburg.
Tommy Milner finished fifth in the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R with a best lap of 1:15.856 (120.543 mph). He and Oliver Gavin were second in class at September’s TireRack.com Grand Prix at Road Atlanta. On Saturday, they’ll share driving chores with Marcel Fässler.
Garcia set the quickest time in GTLM practice Thursday in the No. 3 Corvette, boosting the team’s hopes entering Friday. Milner was the early pace-setter before two quick laps from Garcia, who was briefly demoted to second before putting together his final attempt, which was more than good enough.
Garcia and Taylor enter on a three-race win streak in GTLM, including last weekend at the Charlotte Roval. They lead Milner and Gavin by 24 points heading into Saturday, with the No. 4 Corvette duo looking for their second victory of the season. The efforts from both pairings have given Chevrolet the lead in GTLM Manufacturers’ points, as well.
The C8.R, Chevrolet’s first mid-engine, production-based racing Corvette, has won six times in its first season of competition. A year ago at Petit Le Mans, Milner drove the C8.R during its first public demonstration laps.
Based on the strong foundation of the 2020 Corvette Stingray, the C8.R and its production counterpart were developed simultaneously. There is a deeper level of technology transfer between the race car and production Corvette than ever before, which helps contribute to many of its advancements. As a result, the C8.R shares the highest percentage of parts between the production and race car than any previous generation.
Initial design and development on the Corvette C8.R – with Corvette Racing engineers working alongside Corvette production personnel – began more than five years ago with track testing starting within the last 18 months. Heavy emphasis on wind tunnel and simulation aided in the testing program.
Petit Le Mans is scheduled for 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday with live television coverage on NBCSN from 12:30-6:30 p.m., and 9:30-11 p.m. ET. TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold will offer live streaming of the full race. In addition, IMSA Radio will broadcast the race on IMSA.com, which also will host live timing and scoring. The race also will air on XM channel 202 and SiriusXM Online 972.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – GTLM POLE-WINNER:
“I think it was my best qualifying lap. I had never gotten pole here; I have been second many times by thousandths or hundredths of a second! The Corvette C8.R was perfect. It was difficult knowing how the car would be compared to yesterday. We didn’t have the usual pole prep or qualifying simulation before the actual session. So we had to do it in the second practice yesterday, which was almost 24 hours ago. We knew the car would be OK but didn’t know where we would stack up against the rest of the field. I would say the first two laps were really good, not good enough for pole because a couple of guys got me there. I didn’t know if I could go faster but obviously, I really wanted it. That was a really, really good lap. Sometimes I have a couple of mistakes, but I think today I put together a whole lap.”
MORE ON QUALIFYING: “I definitely did a perfect lap. I’d say my first two fast laps were feeling really good. I didn’t leave anything on the table. Maybe a little bit, but they were almost perfect laps. During my cool-down lap, somebody told me I lost pole by a few hundredths, so I knew I had to go again. Obviously, the cool-down didn’t hurt, or maybe it helped a little bit. So I went for it again. I really wanted that pole because I’ve lost many poles here by a thousandths or hundredths of a second. Let’s see if this is the beginning of getting my first win here because I’ve been waiting a long time. It was the perfect lap, even if it wasn’t that efficient because we didn’t have practice prior to qualifying. That made it a little bit more stressful knowing the last time I had a chance to drive the car was last night and during the second practice 24 hours ago. It was a really good job by the Corvette C8.R crew, and I’m happy to be on pole.”
MOMENTUM IN GOING FOR THIRD STRAIGHT WIN AND REBOUNDING FROM SEPTEMBER RACE: “We were strong, for sure. Even during the race here, we were up there for most of the race. We had a few issues that put us a back a little bit on track position. But knowing how close the GTLM field is and how difficult it is to pass for track position, that’s what hurt us a little bit over the six-hour race. Not being able to get back over the last 45 minutes, and also I caught a puncture over the last hour. That race didn’t go our way, but the whole GTLM field was very close. Tommy was all the way up there in second pressuring the BMW. We still have a very strong car. Tomorrow is going to be cooler than the Six Hours, we just need to wait and see how the track develops, see what the temperature does with the tire performance and car performance, and how we get to the night. It’s going to be wild out there like always with traffic and people being aggressive. Everyone is fighting for their class win, and I’m sure it’s going to be very tense at the end and cold. So let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – QUALIFIED FIFTH IN GTLM:
“That wasn’t quite as successful as the qualifying we had for the Six Hours. Antonio obviously had an awesome lap – a second quicker than where we were in September. The track definitely felt like it was quicker. Straight away, you could feel the grip level was pretty high. I’m a little disappointed to be seven-tenths off of him and four-tenths from the front of the field. In some ways it was a little bit of difficult conditions today. We didn’t practice today, and we made some setup changes; we’re still trying to learn a little bit more about the C8.R. It felt really good in qualifying, but everyone else also had a good car and a lot of grip available from the racetrack. We’re still learning and still trying to figure out some of the setup stuff we did over the weekend to see if we can help some of our issues. We’ll look at data; we may have made a good change but need to have a closer look at the two cars to see if there is any benefit to what we did. As everyone says, qualifying doesn’t really matter in these things; you have 10 hours here to get a good car and be good on a long run. Tires will be a big part of the puzzle come tomorrow. First and foremost, I’m excited to race at this track again. Driving the Corvette C8.R here in amazing, and it’s even more fun in qualifying with low fuel and new tires. It was the fastest I’ve ever driven around this track. That was a lot of fun, but it would have been even more fun if we were a little closer to the front of the field.”