Although Tandy and Milner won in Detroit two weeks earlier, that was a non-points race for GT Le Mans-class cars since the #3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor was the only other entrant.
At Watkins Glen last weekend, the two Chevys had a pace advantage over the BMW M8 GTEs – back for the third round of the Michelin Endurance Cup – and the Porsche 911 RSR-19 of WeatherTech Racing.
But while the two ’Vettes were evenly matched, it was the #4 car that led 122 laps, the #3 that led 47, yet the latter prevailed as Tandy encountered an as-yet unrevealed mechanical issue. Fewer than 20 laps from the end, he lost momentum through the esses up the hill, and was outbraked by Garcia into the Bus Stop chicane, with the BMW of John Edwards also passing him. In the closing laps, the second BMW also demoted the crippled Corvette.
“It’s bitterly disappointing,” said Tandy, who has yet to score his first points win for his new employers after joining from Porsche in the last off-season. “We put ourselves in position as a team to have what looked like a pretty comfortable 1-2.
“Up to the point, the way the guys managed the race – the pit stops, how the engineers set the car up for the race – had us absolutely flying.
“A few laps before the last yellow, I felt something strange on the car and we’ll have to investigate what happened. We’re disappointed, but there are a lot of positives to go into next week with.”
Milner, who wrested the lead away from polesitter Garcia at the start of the race and therefore set the tone for much of the six-hour race, commented: “We’ve had four races so far this year, and for all four I feel like we’ve had car that can win. Sebring didn’t last very long, but the car had been fast up till the race.
“Looking past that frustration, I’m happy with the performance of everyone on the #4 Corvette today from top to bottom. Every single person did an excellent job today.
“The car was great all the way to the end until the mechanical issue that gave Nick a pretty challenging final stint there. He did an awesome job to hold off the BMW for so long there with a broken car to salvage something out of it, but in the end it was too much to overcome.
“On one hand, I’m frustrated. But on the other I’m really happy with the overall performance today. We had good pit stops and strategy. All the things we can control, we’re doing right. We just need some luck to go our way.”
Defending GTLM champs Garcia and Taylor, who also won at Daytona, have thus scored the first Watkins Glen win for the C8.R, since last year – the first for the mid-engined Corvette – saw the Six Hours was transferred from the Glen to Road Atlanta last year, due to COVID-caused restrictions in New York state.
“The start was a little confusing with all the debris in Turn 1,” Garcia said. “I played it a little bit careful, and Tommy went around me. From that point on, it was a flat-out fight with our teammates and the BMWs. There was no time to rest.
“With about 2hr30m left, the two BMWs went on a different strategy so we had to cover them. We split ours with the #4 because we had to do it. That put us ahead of them at the time but they got ahead when the last pit stop came. We had the pace and knew it was going to be not only a lot of fast laps but also to manage tire wear and tire temperature. Stints here were very hard on the tires…
“As soon as you start losing time, other cars are on you. Even at the end, it felt like I had a comfortable margin over John [Edwards] of about three or four seconds. Then all the classes got together with about two laps to go – DPis, GTDs, LMP2s, LMP3s and us. Fortunately there were no crashes and no yellows, and I managed to stay ahead and bring home a victory.”
Taylor added: “I think this is one of the only tracks I hadn’t won here on the IMSA calendar… It’s been a long time coming, but it is great to be back here with Corvette Racing.
“The first time here with the C8.R and with testing, to come out here and win the race, and have a possible one-two… it was just an unfortunate event there for the #4 at the end, but I can’t be prouder of the whole team.”
“It was definitely an odd race, especially with the LMP3 cars cycling to the front of the GT packs every time and we have to drive through that. You saw at the end, with a couple laps to go how we caught a big GT pack mixed in with some LMP3s. You mix in the Prototypes and the other cars coming though, it was mayhem.
“It was crazy but at the same time that is part of IMSA. That is what makes this series great and what makes sports car racing amazing. Thankfully Antonio kept a cool head and brought it home…
“This was a perfect weekend. Antonio got pole. It’s our first time here with the C8.R – no testing just time in the simulator. It was very impressive that we rolled off the truck as strong as we did. We made very minor tweaks, so big kudos to the team for the preparation coming in here.”