April 23, 2021

Tandy: Corvette “slightly more stable” than “edgy” Porsche

Tandy raced and won in Porsches from 2010 through 2020, and although he competed in the 919 Hybrid LMP1 fulltime in the WEC in 2017, and won the Le Mans 24 Hours outright in 2015 – most of his time was spent in 911s in the GT classes.

Driving the CORE autosport-run Porsche 911 RSRs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Tandy racked up 13 wins over seven years, including one Rolex 24 at Daytona, three Sebring 12 Hours and three Petit Le Mans – one of which was an overall victory.

His switch to Corvette Racing sees Tandy replace the team’s legend Oliver Gavin as fulltime partner to Tommy Milner, for the mid-engined Corvette C8.R’s second season of competition.

The team’s other entry, driven by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, dominated the GT Le Mans championship in 2020 with five wins, while Milner/Gavin made it six victories for the C8.R in 11 races.

Following a test at Sebring last month, Tandy says the car compares favorably to the Porsche 911 RSR-19 he raced last season.

“The thing that pleased me most is how natural the C8.R felt straightaway,” he commented. “There are, of course, many nuances and bits and pieces on how to extract time and consistency out of the car and the tires on which Corvette Racing compete. It felt pretty comfortable and familiar after a day’s running. This was a big positive for me.

“There are slight differences [required in driving style]. The thing with the 911s we had was the short wheelbase. As the cars got wider and wider, and with the team exploiting the aero, having a wide car with a short wheelbase does make a car edgy.

“This was one of the most pleasing aspects of getting into the C8.R. It has a slightly longer wheelbase so it’s slightly more stable in lot of places. This is just the basic architecture of the car. There are places where it’s a hindrance, but you look at the [BMW] M8 which has an even longer wheelbase still.

“There are places where a short wheelbase helps – at Long Beach, for example. But it does make it edgy to drive sometimes.

“The Corvette was a breath of fresh air in some areas, to be honest. The consistency of how you can push the car is something I’m looking forward to exploit and not constantly being on the limit and going over it.

“It’s an endurance racing machine, and it’s designed for a reason: to be consistent and enable us guys as drivers to go out and push as hard as we can and try to limit mistakes.”

Tandy revealed he has been working at Chevrolet’s simulator, but admitted that he’s impatient to hit the Daytona track in next week’s Roar Before the 24 test.

“Ultimately you can’t get better than track time,” he said. “The good thing is that we have the Roar test, which is great. We have three days before we get into the race week.

“One of the things I’ve been introduced to within Corvette Racing and Chevrolet is the Driver in the Loop simulator that we have in North Carolina. I’ve been there already and I’m due to go back before the race at Daytona. This is something that helps you get used to working with the race engineers, getting used to strategies and working on getting used to different things you can change within the car.

“Actually getting used to the car – driving it and getting comfortable going 200mph at Daytona, it’s only track time. The good thing is that we have five days of testing at Daytona before the 24 Hours.

“Of course we have the qualifying race at the end of the Roar. Hopefully both Alexander [Sims – endurance extra driver in the #4 Corvette this year] and I can get some laps and work with Tommy to figure out how to get the best out of all of all us before we have 24 hours of practice in the race.”

Sims, who spent two years racing for the works BMW team in IMSA GT Le Mans class before switching to Formula E, was similarly positive about the Corvette C8.R – and IMSA in general.

“Ever since my participation in IMSA ended and going off to do Formula E, it was the single championship I was most driven to get back involved with,” said Sims who scored three wins in 2017 driving the M6 and two wins in 2018 driving the M8.

“It absolutely was the top one that I’ve been involved in. Competition-wise, the tracks, the format of racing, competitors – everything about it is just fantastic.

“The opportunity to drive with Corvette was something that took very little time to consider. Having raced against them for a couple of years, you see the level at which they work as a team, the success they’ve had over the years. To join the program and be a part of that is a huge honor.

“Doing the first couple of laps at Sebring, the car started making sense pretty quickly to me. By Day 32and going on another couple of runs, it was really impressive how good the car was in so many different phases of the corner.

“It takes a little bit of adjusting to it, as all race cars do. It wasn’t a surprise because the car won so much last year, but to verify my feeling of the car was good.”

Milner, entering his 10th year with Corvette, welcomed his new teammates and observed that “from a pace perspective and a teammate perspective, both those guys have been great so far.” However, he also stated that he and engineer Chuck Houghton had been targeting an improvement in pace at the start of a race, based off what they saw from the #3 Corvette in 2020.

“Last year, both Jordan and Antonio were very consistent,” said the 34-year-old who has twice won the Le Mans 24 Hours, twice won the IMSA GT championship, and has a Rolex 24 Hours win to his name. “We saw a couple of times at the start of races they were quite quick. So we’re learning lessons from last year and working with our engineer to understand why that was.

“So now with Nick and the two of us together – plus Alex for the long races – we’re trying to understand what those deficiencies were in some places, what they were doing differently and trying to find our own way with a few tricks and secrets here and there.”

Milner also paid generous tribute to Corvette Racing’s legendary program manager Doug Fehan who retired in the offseason, but pointed out that to Fehan’s credit, the team can be expected to continue to perform strongly.

“There have been some changes within the team, but from our side and what we’ve seen, the difference has been none,” said Milner. “Of course, Doug should be mentioned for sure. He’s been with this program from the beginning and is a guy who had a big role within Corvette Racing. His leadership and his role within the team have been very evident for a long, long time.

“The team and Chevrolet have shifted a little bit their programs and restructured them in some ways to encompass the racing side more under the engineering branch. There are lots of great people that are involved from the Corvette Racing side, the Chevrolet side and the Pratt Miller side. That hasn’t changed.

“There are lots of people who encompass Corvette Racing, and obviously Doug was a big part of that for a long, long time. He’s left his mark in many ways. His experience and who he is as a person will definitely be missed at the track. But he’s left a great legacy, and we can continue to push forward with the success that this team has been built on and continue that down the road.”

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