An up-and-down middle eight hours saw Corvette Racing re-emerge from two laps down and back into contention for a class victory as daylight approached for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R ran third in the GT Daytona PRO (GTD PRO) class and fifth among all GTD runners after 16 hours in the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The three Corvette Racing drivers – Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Tommy Milner – each drove triple-stints as they rotated through the C8.R for the second time.
Garcia, who started the race Saturday, worked with the Corvette Racing engineers to improve tire performance through his three stints. By the time he handed over to Taylor a little before the 10-hour mark, the C8.R was in a better state than when Garcia took over as Taylor left the pitlane in the class lead thanks to a solid stop by the Corvette pit crew.
Things began to look dire near the 10.5-hour mark when the No. 3 Corvette suffered a left-rear flat tire just before Taylor came on the Turn 1 speedway banking while running second in class. He nursed the car back to pitlane even as the tire came off the wheel before the Corvette made it back to pit entry.
The team quickly changed tires but had to stop a lap later to change the Corvette’s rear brakes due to damage from the flat tire. It dropped the No. 3 C8.R to two laps down.
Critically, Taylor was able to stay ahead of the GTD PRO leader and not lose another lap before a full-course yellow just before the halfway point of the race. The Corvette Racing crew got a lap back during a pass-around before stopping for fuel and tires, and then the crew changed the front brakes a lap later to return the Corvette to full strength – and the lead lap – with just over 11-and-a-half hours to go.
Taylor gave way to Milner from the sixth position in class about an hour later with the Corvette rejoining in fifth. Less than an hour into his opening stint, the race’s eighth full-course caution drew Milner closer to the front. He ran third in class and seven seconds from the lead as the race entered the final eight hours.