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 1/13/21 8:31pm
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Corvette Racing drivers Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims – teammates in the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R – met with members of the media during a Zoom conference call Tuesday to discuss the new-look lineup in the No. 4 Corvette for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the transitions of Tandy and Sims into Corvette Racing, the outlook for the 2021 Rolex 24 At Daytona and other topics.

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R THE OUTLOOK FOR ROLEX 24 AND 2021: “There are lot of big changes on our side of the team with Nick and Alex. I’m excited about it. I’ve raced against those guys in GT for many years, and I know how tough they are as competitors. I’m happy I don’t have to race against them now and can race with them. I’m excited to get Year Two of this Corvette Racing program going again with the C8.R. Last year was a pretty big success with lots of race wins and the GTLM championships. We’re looking to equal that, and getting some of the highlight race wins is a pretty big program goal – Daytona, Sebring and beyond that. We’re looking forward to getting the season going again and seeing how it all shakes out.”

CHANGES WITHIN THE PROGRAM, INCLUDING BEING WITH NEW TEAMMATES: “We had one test at the end of the year where both Nick and Alexander were able to get some laps in the car. That was good for them to get their feet wet, and as expected they both were quick. With those formalities out of the way, we can show up to Daytona for the Roar and the race and be focused on getting the car ready to go and not some of the house-keeping stuff that you try to take care of at the first test. They’re both such professionals and have been doing this for such a long time. There are details of driving a new car, which will obviously take them a couple of races to understand what the car wants and needs. From a pace perspective and a teammate perspective, both those guys have been great so far. “There have been some changes within the team, but from our side and what we’ve seen, the difference as been none. Of course, Doug (Fehan) 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. “As of right now, that role (program manager) hasn’t been filled. There are lot of people on the Chevrolet side who have been part of helping run and been involved with Corvette Racing, and the same at Pratt Miller. Doug had an all-encompassing role in many ways. I think the aim is to fill that role by the end of the month and hopefully before the race.”

THOUGHTS ON GTLM COMPETITION FOR 2021: “As always with this GT class, there are ebbs and flows with it. Some years we have nine or 10 cars racing and some years less than that. At Corvette Racing, fundamentally we of course enjoy that extra competition that we have had for many years. Missing the factory Porsche team is not ideal by any means, but still there is no reason to look past the WeatherTech guys. There will be some great drivers in that team looking for race wins. In some ways, they probably feeling like the underdog in some ways, so they will be working extra hard to try to beat us.
“Daytona will be a big challenge no matter what. That is our main focus for now. I would say the inner-team rivalry has grown over the years in many ways. We’ve seen in the past when it was just Corvette Racing in the GT1 class at that time that the racing was still pretty epic. Now without Fehan there, I think we can not have some inner-team contact on pit lane at Mid-Ohio as you saw one year there! More battles like what you saw at Daytona in 2016 where the two cars were racing nose-to-tail for the last hour-and-a-half of the 24-hour race with some great racing there. In some ways, we have to sort of race ourselves anyway. Both cars and both teams of drivers are always pushing ourselves constantly. So if we don’t have a lot of competition for the sprint races, once we go to Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans and when we have more competition again, we will be on the top of our game. We will certainly be pushing hard to beat those 3 car guys throughout the year and certainly those Proton Porsche guys as well.”

LEARNING FROM SUCCESS OF THE NO. 3 CORVETTE IN 2020: “Last year, both Jordan and Antonio were very consistent. 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 (Chuck Houghton) and 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.”

IMPACT OF LMP3 INTRODUCTION ON GTLM BATTLES: “I think it will be a similar experience to what we had with the Prototype Challenge cars from years past. It’s a little bit lower horsepower prototype car, oftentimes with guys who are a little less experienced at times. I can’t imagine having them on the race track will make it whole lot different than that  experience. It will definitely make some things more challenging in some ways. With sports car racing and endurance racing, traffic ends up becoming a huge part of our race. Adding in those guys will add a little bit more trouble for us in the GT cars, but it will be the same for everybody. We will just have to learn to race with them and around them and understand where they are quick. As practice goes on, we will figure out which cars have good guys in them and which cars have guys that you have to be a little more careful of. Those are the kinds of details you find as the race weekend goes on.”

NICK TANDY, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R THE TRANSITION COMING INTO CORVETTE RACING: “For starters, I’m looking forward to going racing again. We get a little bit of an offseason after what is normally Atlanta but last season was Sebring. There’s often a bit of testing. It’s been a pretty quiet lockdown winter, but I’m looking forward to getting going. Obviously, I’m racing in familiar surroundings in IMSA and GTLM, but of course I have a new car and a lot of new people to work with. From this point of view, I’m looking forward to getting going, getting to know new friends and hopefully win a load of big races, like Tommy said, with new teammates.”

TRANSITIONING TO A NEW TEAM AND ONE ELEMENT THAT HAS BEEN A PLEASANT SURPRISE: “As Tommy mentioned, we had the opportunity to run a few laps at the back end of last year in the C8.R. I’ve been racing against the car for 12 months now. Compared to the previous cars I’ve been used to, it’s built to a similar set of regulations, runs a similar sort of tire and has similar power and weight. The thing that pleased me most is how natural the C8.R felt straightaway. 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.”

THE PROCESS OF MOVING TO A NEW TEAM: “Of course it feels weird. I had been with CORE Autosport for seven or eight years now, working with a group of people that you get to know. Yes, we’d been through various different cars so this doesn’t change things going forward. We went through different scenarios where we’ve gone and raced at Le Mans with CORE before. The biggest change will be adapting to working with different people and within a team of people. In the end, when the chance came about to join Corvette Racing, it was an easy decision to make. Yes, I loved my family at CORE and Porsche, but at the end of the day there was no option to go racing in GTLM and IMSA, which has been my favorite race series and my favorite racing across the globe over the last 15 years. GTLM and GTE is super competitive; the cars are great, it’s factory against factory and its great competition. It didn’t take long to say yes and come to an agreement that we’d go forward. It is a new challenge – same series with a similar car but the challenge will come with slotting myself into a champion team and one that has been successful for the last 20 years. It’s something I’m looking forward to. It’s not just the driving that a driver does on track, it’s how you integrate yourself into a team and be part of a team that works together. I’m looking forward to that challenge and hopefully looking forward to a lot more winning in the future.”

CROSSOVER OF SPORTS CAR TALENT INTO NASCAR RACES:  “Honestly, I don’t see a lot of additional crossover. The way I see it, there are a lot less funded opportunities within stock car racing at the moment. It’s difficult for pro stock car drivers to get top-level drives. Even though there are a lot of road-course races, the guys that have a deal and have the opportunity to do the full season, they’ll do the full season. It’s not like it was 10 years ago when there would be additional cars entered for road course ringers. I don’t see that sort of crossover from our side. In sports car racing when there are additional entries at Daytona with four or five drivers per car, it’s great to include people that perhaps can’t do other races with it. This is great that we still have crossover. From my point of view, my joining Corvette Racing and Chevrolet was to win races in IMSA and championships. That is my full focus until we’ve done that and won four or five. But if the opportunity was there, I’ve said before I’m a fan of stock car racing. If it doesn’t impact any of the other programs we’re doing, I’d love to get involved.”

SPEEDING UP THE TRANSITION PROCESS WITH LIMITED TRACK TIME: “Ultimately you can’t get better than track time. The good thing is that we have the Roar test, which is great. We have three days before we get into the race week. So you can’t beat track time. But on the back of this, 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 200 mph 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 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.”

DIFFERENCE IN DRIVING STYLE BETWEEN C8.R AND PORSCHE: “There are slight differences. 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 hinderance, but you look at the M8 which has an event longer wheelbase still. There are places where the short wheelbase helps – sometimes 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.”

OUTLOOK ON 2021 GTLM FIELD AND CAR COUNT:  “It is what it is at the end of the day. We are still hoping BMW will run the full season. This is a potential. It only takes two cars to make a race. Even rallying with one car is pretty interesting sometimes. It is great that WeatherTech and Proton have gotten together and are committed to a full season. It’s like Tommy said: you take the good with the bad. I remember a couple years ago when Ford was there with Ferrari; it was the best GT racing in the world. Yes this year there’s a car drop, but that’s not to say that it will lead to any less intense racing on track. I’m looking forward to Daytona for the start where there will be a few good cars and lots of stuff going on with P3 involved also, and then Sebring as well. Hopefully we can get some of the WEC cars there also for the Super Sebring weekend. Then you have to look forward and get on with what’s in front of you.”

OPTIMISM ON A PERSONAL LEVEL GOING INTO 2021 ABOUT MOTORSPORT IN GENERAL: “Yes, I am more optimistic than I was in June, let’s put it that way. It is great to see people committed to the LMDH and LMH categories. You have people, even though teams have left Formula E, you have manufacturers looking at that, plus Formula 1 through NASCAR, INDYCAR and sports car racing. We’ve kind of lost DTM which was probably the top-level championship in Europe, but that looks like it is taking on a new start and there are teams involved in that already. There are people who still want to go racing whether it is from privateers or manufacturers. As long as there are people who want to go racing then hopefully, once the tough days and tough times are behind us, people will want to go out and enjoy their motorsport again.”

ALEXANDER SIMS, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R BEING BACK IN GTLM WITH CORVETTE RACING: “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. It absolutely was the top one that I’ve been involved in within GT racing that I’ve enjoyed. 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. Now I’m looking forward to getting into the nitty-gritty of going racing again. I’m really, really looking forward to getting back to Daytona.”

TRANSITIONING TO A NEW TEAM AND ONE ELEMENT THAT HAS BEEN A PLEASANT SURPRISE: “Nick kind of stole my answer, but the fundamental thing that was ultimately a question mark as a driver is how you’re going to feel when you get in the car. In terms of dealing with the team, speaking to people and understanding how things work, you can do that before you drive. Getting in the car was the last remaining thing that was to be checked off and such. Doing the first couple of laps at Sebring, the car started making sense pretty quickly to me. By Day Two and 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 as well was nice.”

ON ADJUSTING DRIVING STYLE FROM FORMULA E TO THE CORVETTE: “Driving a qualifying lap isn’t that much different actually. The tire takes some getting used to, but in terms of the fundamentals of driving a race car quickly, you’re still going through the same processes. There aren’t too many things that I would say would conflict in terms of jumping between two cars and series. It’s something I’ve done the last two years anyway. For me, jumping into a GT3 car is a little more difficult when you bring in ABS, but with the Corvette it should be pretty straightforward, within reason. It just takes a couple of laps to adapt. In terms of Formula E energy saving and strategy stuff you learn, there isn’t a huge amount that is massively able to be crossed over. Corvette always seemed to have a pretty good handle on that part of it, so I’ll work with the engineers on that as usual.”

HAS THE UK COVID LOCKDOWN IMPACTED LIFE MORE THAN THE LAST NINE MONTHS: “The news just recently about having to have a negative test coming to the U.S. and another coming back to the U.K. as well is a small logistical thing that we need to sort out. There’s nothing radically different other than quarantine on return to the U.K. will be necessary. There’s not a huge amount that we’ve had to get our head around.”

ADDING A FACTORY GT PROGRAM TO FORMULA E EFFORT: “It was honestly a factor in my Formula E situation. I was keen to pursue things with Mahindra because from the outset there was a clear position that they would be happy for me to do some GT racing and have no restrictions on manufacturers. That in it itself was massively appealing to me. I’m really enjoying my time in Formula E and I want that to continue, but at the same time I’ve done GT racing for many  years. It’s so unique in the enjoyment you get out of it… the physical fatigue that you get in a 24-hour race. You just can’t replicate that in a sprint race. Knowing IMSA was the championship that I have enjoyed the most in GT racing over the years, it was my primary aim to get back involved. It obviously wasn’t just down to me picking and choosing where I go. It was fortunate timing that Corvette was interested in talking to me, and things moved quickly.”

DID YOU KNOW OPTIONS FOR GT RACING WITH BMW WOULD BE LIMITED, AND DID THAT INFLUENCE YOUR FORMULA E PLANS? “This is talking about my Formula E situation, but it wasn’t part of my consideration in terms of my choice to leave BMW. I think the Formula E thing was rather separate, but one of the conditions in my head was that I wanted to be with a manufacturer that would allow me to do things like this and race GT cars at the highest level around this world if opportunities came up.  The situation unfolded perfectly, to be honest, to add this program with Corvette Racing along with my Formula E racing. It’s an absolute dream to come true in terms of my racing interests.”

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