Last year, with a new car and a new driver lineup, Corvette Racing suffered through a frustrating weekend at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. 2021 was an entirely different story for the Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, with the team enjoying a dominant 1-2 class finish during the twice around the clock endurance classic at Daytona International Speedway led by ace drivers Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg, and Antonio Garcia.
With little less than an hour remaining, Jordan Taylor went full send around the outside of Turn 1 on teammate Tommy Milner in the sister car en route to a 3.5-second win, the first Rolex 24 victory for the C8.R.
Despite the diminished car count in the GTLM class, it wasn’t an easy walk to victory for Corvette Racing. Taylor and No.3 Corvette co-drivers Nicky Catsburg and Antonio Garcia overcame a stall in the pit lane and endured a drive-through penalty in the late hours of the race. The No. 4 C8.R carried an intermittent gear selection issue for much of the race.
After qualifying 1-2 for the Rolex 24, the Corvettes remained class favorites for the duration, with the C8.R leading at every hourly interval throughout the event. Both the Nos. 3 and 4 took turns at the front throughout the race, in fact, the two Corvettes combined to lead 716 of the 770 laps at Daytona.
Sunday’s result came 20 years after Corvette Racing’s first Rolex 24 win in 2001. It’s been five years since the C7.R finished 1-2 in 2016, the last time the team claimed class victory at the Rolex.
The No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR piloted by Kevin Estre was taken out of contention early when the No. 25 BMW of Bruno Spengler hit the lone GTLM Porsche as the field was approaching the green flag.
The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE Evo was caught in the opening-lap hullabaloo but escaped without real damage. The Houston-based team led late on an alternate fuel strategy but didn’t catch the caution needed for the strategy to work.
After the conclusion of the 2021 24 Hours of Daytona, IMSA fans will find themselves waiting a while for the next event, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring from Sebring International Raceway which isn’t scheduled until Saturday, March 20.