Corvette Racing and the No.4 Corvette C8.R has earned the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona GTLM pole thanks to a win in the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race, part of the annual Roar Before the 24 weekend at Daytona International Speedway.
A new addition to the proceedings for 2021, the Motul Pole Award 100 sprint race is used to set the starting grid for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Alexander Sims and Nick Tandy–both new additions to the team in 2021–drove the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R to a 12-second win over their Corvette Racing teammates, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg, in the No. 3 Corvette.
The 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race begins this Saturday, January 30, at 3:30 PM, ET, and ends at 3:30 PM on Sunday, January 31.
It was the second win at Daytona for Corvette Racing in the span of six months, following victory in July’s IMSA WeatherTech 240 when Taylor and Antonio Garcia won in the No. 3 Corvette C8.R. It was the first race after the IMSA season was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Corvette Racing hasn’t enjoyed class victory at the Rolex 24 since 2016, when the two C7.R Corvettes went 1-2, photo finishing just .034 seconds apart from each other after an incredible 24 hours.
The No.4 Corvette started third on a wet track, courtesy of a pre-race Florida afternoon shower, but the opening lap saw Sims jump his former teammates in the two BMW Team RLL M8s for an early lead. Sims handed over the car to Tandy on the first pit stop under a full-course caution with a little more than an hour remaining in the 100-minute race.
“It was an interesting first taste of the conditions for me in the car,” said Sims of his first experience in the C8.R under full racing conditions. “But very quickly I was given a lot of confidence from the car as to how to push. It was nice to just get some experience in the wet and get a feeling for how the car was working.”
With less than 30-minutes remaining the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 was looking to spoil the Corvette party by trying to stretch its fuel to the finish. But with the race staying green Kevin Estre was forced to stop for fuel with 17 minutes remaining and surrendered the lead back to Tandy in the No.4 Corvette Racing C8.R.
“I think their plan was to stay out and hope for a lot of yellow and kind of roll the dice that way,” said Tandy, the former factory Porsche GTLM driver, said. “We went with the slick tire in the stop, where a couple of the cars and one of the BMWs stopped and kept the wets. It proved to be a good strategic call from Corvette Racing which got us a 1-2 in the end.”
Victory in the Motul Pole Award 100 also earned the No. 4 Corvette C8.R a valuable 35 points toward the IMSA WeatherTech GTLM championship.