DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Renger van der Zande spotted Jordan Taylor wearing his new Corvette Racing firesuit at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona instead of the familiar, Konica Minolta-emblazoned, black firesuit he’s sported for so many years, the Dutchman said, “It’s so weird.”
A couple of days later, at the start of a media availability, Wayne Taylor joked that his No. 10 Cadillac DPi team had, “Gotten rid of the dead weight” from its 2020 driver lineup. Jordan Taylor delivered two IMSA titles and 19 victories – including two Rolex 24 At Daytona wins, two Motul Petit Le Mans victories and one Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts triumph – in his tenure with the No. 10 team from 2013 through 2019.
So, for 2020, Jordan’s taking his “dead weight” with him to one of the most iconic race cars in the world. He’s sharing the Velocity Yellow, No. 3 Corvette C8.R with two-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion Antonio Garcia at Corvette Racing.
He’s no stranger to that team, either. From 2012 through 2017, Jordan joined Corvette Racing’s lineup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the GTE Pro class in 2015 in the team’s No. 64 Corvette C7.R with co-drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
So, it’s not like he’s moving into totally unfamiliar territory. But it is different.
“It’s been a big change,” he said. “The teams work a lot differently, a lot of different personnel. Wayne Taylor Racing was a family team, so it felt like home. But the nice thing is, I was with Corvette Racing for six years as an endurance driver, so a lot of the guys were the same.
“I fit right back in when I walked back into the shop last year, so it hasn’t been too bad of a transition. Obviously, the way we do things – debriefs and stuff – are things to get used to, and working with different teammates, but all has gone well so far.”
He and his teammates – Garcia for the full season and Nicky Catsburg for endurance races – all are getting used to the new Corvette C8.R. It’s a revolutionary vehicle, the first mid-engined Corvette.
“It felt great right out of the box,” said Jordan of the new car. “The first test I did was a couple of months ago at Daytona, and it already felt great. So, it’s a great starting point. I know the engineers have a lot of stuff they want to try and keep developing more stuff, but I think from where we are right now, it’s very promising.”
He acknowledges they’re in the “early stages” of the car’s development compared to the fully maximized Corvette C7.R it is replacing. And they’re also in the early stages of Taylor “relearning” GT racing.
After seven years racing in the top prototype class – including the last three in a Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine – he’s now in the GT Le Mans (GTLM).
“Yeah, it’s way different,” he says. “Just the feeling of the car, the way you feel it, the way it drives. The DPi’s got a bit more power, it’s got carbon brakes, it’s got way more downforce, so I’m just adjusting to that.
“Remembering to look in my mirrors a lot more is the biggest thing. I forgot that the closing speeds are so high at some places, like coming into the dogleg, so getting that kind of muscle memory and looking in the mirror is going to be a big part of it. But the driving portion, I was able to learn pretty quickly on the simulator ahead of driving the real car.”
When he returns to Daytona Int’l Speedway next week to drive the real car again, he’ll be looking for his third Rolex 24 At Daytona victory in four years after winning overall in both 2017 and 2019. That provides a degree of comfort.
“I think there’s less pressure and less stress,” he said. “Before 2017, when we won our first one, we finished second three or four times. So, when we got the first win, it was almost like a relief. Like, ‘It’s finally happened.’
“Now, having won it twice with Wayne Taylor Racing, it’s more of a relief, but it gives you a lot more confidence that you can get the job done. You know how to race the first 20 hours and set yourself up to win at the end.”