Now that Nick Tandy has switched to the Corvette Racing team for the 2021 season, the former veteran Porsche racer is in a unique position to evaluate the new mid-engine C8.R against the competition.
So far, he’s been impressed with what he’s discovered as the team gets ready for the season opener at the Rolex 24 at Daytona Jan. 28-31.
“The thing that pleased me most is how natural the C8.R felt straightaway,” he said during a press availability on Zoom. “There are, of course, many nuances and bits and pieces on how to extract time and consistency out of the car and the tires on which Corvette Racing compete. It felt pretty comfortable and familiar after a day’s running. This was a big positive for me.”
Tandy has been working with Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop simulator in North Carolina and says he is ready to see more actual time behind the wheel at next week’s Roar Before the 24 test set for Jan. 22-24.
“Ultimately, you can’t get better than track time,” he said. “The good thing is that we have the Roar test, which is great. We have three days before we get into the race week.”
Tandy will be taking over for the legendary Oliver Gavin as full-time partner to Tommy Milner, with the team’s other entry again being driven by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, who captured five wins last year on the way to the GT Le Mands championship.
Tandy, who won 13 times over seven years competing in Porsche 911 RSRs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, tested his new Corvette ride at Sebring last month and says it compares favorably to his old 911 RSR-19 car last season.
“The Corvette was a breath of fresh air in some areas, to be honest,” he said. “The consistency of how you can push the car is something I’m looking forward to exploit and not constantly being on the limit and going over it.”
He called the C8.R “an endurance racing machine” designed “to be consistent and enable us guys as drivers to go out and push as hard as we can and try to limit mistakes.”
He praised the C8.R’s slightly longer wheelbase than the 911, saying that makes the Chevy “slightly more stable in lot of places.”
Tandy says the shorter wheelbase of the 911 helps at some tracks, including Long Beach, “but it does make (the Porsche) edgy to drive sometimes.”
Tandy says using the Driver in the Loop simulator has helped him get used to working with the race engineers, “getting used to strategies and working on getting used to different things you can change within the car.”
He says actual track time will be the ultimate way he’s able to get comfortable with the C8.R and he’s looking forward to five days of testing at Daytona before the 24 Hours.
“Of course we have the qualifying race at the end of the Roar,” Tandy says. “Hopefully both Alexander [Sims – endurance extra driver in the #4 Corvette this year] and I can get some laps and work with Tommy to figure out how to get the best out of all of all us before we have 24 hours of practice in the race.”
Sims is another newcomer to the team, joining Corvette after two years of racing for the BMW team in IMSA GT Le Mans before switching to Formula E.
“The opportunity to drive with Corvette was something that took very little time to consider,” Sims said. “Having raced against them for a couple of years, you see the level at which they work as a team, the success they’ve had over the years. To join the program and be a part of that is a huge honor.”
Milner praised his new teammates, noting that they’ve “been great so far” from a pace perspective and a teammate perspective.
He also had kind words for the team’s program manager, Doug Fehan, who
was fired retired in the offseason.
‘He’s been with this program from the beginning and is a guy who had a big role within Corvette Racing,” Milner said. “His leadership and his role within the team have been very evident for a long, long time.”
Fehan “left his mark in many ways,” Milner continued. “His experience and who he is as a person will definitely be missed at the track. But he’s left a great legacy, and we can continue to push forward with the success that this team has been built on and continue that down the road.”
[Editor’s note: The strikeout above was commentary added by us.]
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