LEXINGTON, Ohio – Perseverance and the new mid-engine model helped Corvette Racing break a Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course victory drought on Sunday.
Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia controlled the day in GT Le Mans competition at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, capturing their fourth win of the season and leading a 1-2 Corvette class finish in the seventh race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Driving the No. 3 Corvette C8.R, Garcia crossed the finish line 1.472 seconds ahead of the No. 4 Corvette shared in the two-hour, 40-minute race by Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. It marked the ninth Corvette victory on the 2.258-mile permanent road course in the last 20 years, but the first since 2012.
“The (No.) 3 car has been particularly strong all weekend,” said Taylor, who earned his 25th career IMSA victory but first at Mid-Ohio. “We led all four sessions. I think we just had a little bit of speed on them all weekend. The balance of the car was just really strong from the get-go. It says a lot for the team, coming here for the first time with the C8.R, with no testing, just simulator time and rolling off the truck so strong. … I think it’s hard to complain about anything at this point.”
After winning the GTLM pole in morning qualifying, Taylor surrendered the class lead to Gavin on the opening lap but regained the top spot from his teammate 25 minutes later and never looked back. The Corvettes held the rival BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTEs at bay all afternoon to complete their third 1-2 sweep this season.
The No. 3 Corvette has won four of the last six races in 2020. Taylor and Garcia expanded their points lead to 17 over Gavin and Milner, while Chevrolet pushed its advantage to 11 points over BMW in the manufacturer chase.
For Garcia, the result earned some satisfaction. He finished third at Mid-Ohio in 2018 and second last year, both times in the previous version Corvette C7.R. The Spaniard credited the mid-engine C8.R, which debuted in competition this season, for helping propel the victory on Sunday.
“Jordan did a fantastic job all day long, getting on pole and then getting a solid lead even if there were a ton of yellows,” said Garcia, who picked up his 21st career IMSA win and also his maiden Mid-Ohio victory. “When you are in that position, you are in control of the race. The C8.R worked perfectly again today. Not only on a quick lap but the consistency through the stint was the main thing. … The C7 was good as we proved over the years, but this is definitely a step forward.”
The No. 25 BMW driven by Bruno Spengler and Connor De Phillippi finished third, with the sister No. 24 BMW co-piloted by Jesse Krohn and John Edwards placing fourth. The Porsche GT Team, normally a two-car entry in GTLM, bypassed the Mid-Ohio weekend out of caution after members of its 24 Hours of Le Mans program tested positive for COVID-19. GTLM drivers Fred Makowiecki, Nick Tandy and Laurens Vanthoor all raced at Le Mans.
In GT Daytona, for the third straight year, a Lexus won the class in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio as the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 took the victory for the second consecutive year.
Jack Hawksworth has been in both AVS winning entries at Mid-Ohio, sharing the car in 2019 with Richard Heistand for the team’s first-ever IMSA triumph and this year with Aaron Telitz. It delivered the sixth career IMSA win for Hawksworth, the fourth for Telitz and allowed both to close in on points leaders Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry.
“We’ve been good here the best part of three years, it’s the nature of the circuit,” Hawksworth said. “The fast rolling corners seem to suit us. All three of those races have been pretty similar that we were battling the Acuras. Fortunately, we’ve been able to come out on top a few times.
“I’m just delighted, I really love this track. Two in a row for the team and absolutely stellar.”
The turning point for the No. 14 came with a critical strategy call late in the race. Telitz started first in GTD after winning the Motul Pole Award in morning qualifying and led until surrendering the point to McMurry in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura NSX GT3 on the first round of stops. Telitz hounded McMurry for the next 45 minutes but couldn’t retake the lead.
When the No. 30 Team Hardpoint Audi R8 LMS stopped just off track with little more than an hour remaining, Telitz was ordered to pit before a full-course caution came out. The No. 86 lost track position when it had to pit under caution. Hawksworth led the rest of the way, edging across the finish line 0.858 seconds ahead of Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“They seemed to have a bit faster car than us,” Telitz admitted of the Acura. “It was going to be tough to get around them on the racetrack. Mid-Ohio is a tough track to pass at in the first place, so unless you have quite a bit more speed on the other car, I just couldn’t get it done. I was just staying behind them and the only way we were going to get back out front was a strategy call, and that’s what happened for us.”
“The team did a fantastic job,” added Hawksworth. “They pitted us before that yellow came out. It was a brave move to make, and ultimately was what got us the lead at the end. It was awesome really to see the team execute such a good strategy.”
Farnbacher and McMurry hold just a three-point lead over Telitz and five-point edge on Hawksworth in the driver standings after six WeatherTech Championship GTD races. In the WeatherTech Sprint Cup standings that includes all non-endurance races, Telitz and Hawksworth expanded their lead to 23 points over Aschenbach and Gar Robinson.