Lots is new at Corvette Racing in 2020. Between the introduction of the radically different Corvette C8.R and the arrival of new drivers in the way of Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg, there’s no doubt the 2019-2020 off season has been busy for team manager Ben Johnson.
The real work is just beginning, though. The team is feeling confident after the Corvette C8.R showed good pace and reliability in the annual Roar Before the 24 test this past weekend, but as Johnson explained in a recent interview with Henry Herald, it also knows that having a fast car is only one small ingredient in the recipe for sports car racing success.
“We knew the pace of the car coming in and we’ve done a lot of testing so we gotta make sure we drilled ourselves in what the new car will make us do,” Johnson said. “Everything is fairly similar but pitstops are a little bit different. Brake changes are a little bit different and driver changes just making sure that things that were second hand on the C7 are getting to that same spot on the C8.”
Johnson is right that the team doesn’t have to worry about pace. The No. 4 Corvette C8.R qualified third in the Roar Before the 24 qualifying session last weekend, which decides the pit stalls and garages for the race weekend. The No. 3 sister car was far down the GTLM order in last, though, so it seems the team still has some work to do with regard to setup optimization.
Johnson also spoke on the departure of Corvette Racing veteran Jan Magnussen from the team, who left at the conclusion of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech season to make way for the younger Taylor.
“Jan was a big part of the development of the car. Super influential in the sim work and on track,” Johnson said. “Jan, I know is racing in Europe right now and hopefully we see him again in the U.S. Jordan is younger, has a new perspective it’s good to see him.”
Taylor served as a third driver for Corvette Racing at Le Mans in the past, but 2020 will be his first full season driving for the team. He previously raced for his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing outfit, which runs a Cadillac DPi-V.R in IMSA’s DPi class. While the Cadillac DPi-V.R is a mid-engine V8 car like the C8.R, Johnson said Taylor finds there isn’t much overlap between the two.
“He’s been able to give us feedback on what he’s felt, and the DPi is not really comparable but there are some tendencies that weight distribution that applies to the C8,” he said.
The first official outing for the Corvette C8.R will be at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which will go green on January 25th.
Source/photos: Henry Herald/Michael Levitt and Jake Galstad via IMSA