Garcia, Gavin to start fifth from GTE Pro grid in European debut for mid-engine Corvette
STAVELOT, Belgium (April 30, 2021) – Antonio Garcia qualified Corvette Racing’s No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R fifth in qualifying for Saturday’s Six Hours of Spa – the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Garcia and Oliver Gavin will team together Saturday in the first race outside the United States for the mid-engine racing Corvette. The team is at the Spa circuit for the first time as preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year.
Garcia and the rest of the GTE Pro field had time for just two flying laps in Friday’s 10-minute qualifying session due to two red-flag periods in the GTE session. Garcia’s best effort was a 2:13.106 (117.688 mph) to put the Corvette within two seconds of the pole time.
Single-lap pace was hardly a concern for Corvette Racing in testing Monday and Tuesday, as well as during practice sessions Thursday and Friday. The team worked throughout to optimize the mid-engine C8.R for Saturday’s race, and the Corvette showed encouraging pace over long runs with a focus on extending the life of its Michelin tires.
Much of the positive results so far this week were the result of simulation work in the lead-up to the event. Corvette Racing engineers looked at a number of circuits on the IMSA schedule that have similar characteristics to the 19-turn, 4.35-mile circuit that lies in the heart of eastern Belgium. It allowed engineers and mechanics to arrive at Spa with a solid baseline setup on the Corvette, despite have never turned a wheel at the track.
Before official #Spa6H practice begins, let's take a look back at the @FIAWEC Prologue from Monday and Tuesday for the #Corvette #C8R@olivergavin @AntonioGarcia_3 @TeamChevy @circuitspa #WEC pic.twitter.com/a14i28nciT— Corvette Racing (@CorvetteRacing) April 29, 2021
The rules set in WEC also is different than the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with differing tire and fuel allocations, as well as procedures for things like pit stops and safety cars. Having the experience in-hand should pay dividends when the full Corvette Racing team makes its return to Le Mans in August.
Live race television and online coverage will be available via MotorTrend Network and MotorTrend On-Demand. Radio coverage for all practice sessions plus Friday qualifying and the race will air on Radio Le Mans. Live timing and scoring will be available on the FIA WEC website.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R – QUALIFIED FIFTH IN GTE PRO:
“You obviously always want to be a little further up, but we knew the competition was going to be very high here. We are missing a few things – how to use the tire with the tire warmers and everything… if you really nail a lap it makes a big difference. Qualifying is only a very small portion of the whole race. I’m sure tomorrow with all the tire management we need to do, we need to double-stint some our allotment. That will be key. I hope the deficit we had on ultimate pace closes down to be a little less so that we can have a strong race pace. Let’s hope we have that. If not, we are here to learn and get as much information as we can. But we are hoping for a good one tomorrow.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R:
“It’s been a lot of work for the team. We’ve gone through a number of setup changes. We’ve been exploring how to make the C8.R work here. It has been challenging. Spa is a very challenging racetrack, and the competition is fierce. The conditions have been quite tricky too… cool with low track temperatures that makes it hard to make the tires work. There is a limited amount of tires you can have for the weekend. So we’ve taken some reasonable swings at the setup. We’ve focused in on something pretty solid now. Antonio in the last practice was pretty competitive on a long run. We’re not too bad for race pace. Whether we have the ultimate pace to fight Saturday, I’m not sure. You never really know until you get into the race. We’ll wait and see.”
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