With the departure of the Porsche GT Team at the end of last season, the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship GTLM field may feature just three full-season entries – two of which will be fielded by Corvette Racing.
Despite the painfully small GTLM grid, Corvette Racing’s drivers are still excited at the prospect of taking to the track in the mid-engine Corvette C8.R this year. Speaking to Sportscar365, Tommy Milner admitted that the absence of Porsche won’t go unnoticed, but acknowledged that the size of the GTLM grid has almost always changed from year-to-year.
“With this GT class, as always there are ebbs and flows,” Milner said. “Some years we have nine or 10 cars racing, and some years we have less than that. At Corvette Racing, we enjoy the extra competition that we’ve had for years.”
While the factory-backed two-car Porsche GT Team effort has been shuttered, there will still be one Porsche 911 RSR racing against Corvette this year thanks to WeatherTech Racing, which has stepped up from the GT3-based GTD class for 2021 through a partnership with Proton Racing. WeatherTech Racing will have American Cooper McNeil as its full-season driver, who will be joined by a rotating cast of established pros throughout the season, which will include Kevin Estre, Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni.
“Missing the factory Porsche team is not ideal, by any means. But it’s certainly no reason to look past the WeatherTech guys,” Milner added. “There will still be some great drivers looking for race wins, and they’ll probably be going into the year feeling like an underdog in some ways, so they’ll be working extra hard to try to beat us.”
BMW Team RLL has so far only committed to racing in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and has yet to say if it will commit to a full GTLM campaign with its pair of BMW M8 GTEs. While it seems unlikely the BMW team will be on the grid for every race this year, Corvette Racing remains hopeful that it will be able to race against the BMWs more than once.
“It is what it is, at the end of the day,” said Corvette Racing newcomer and former Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy, who joined the team this year after the Porsche GT Team operation was wound down. “We’re still hoping that BMW will run the full season. This is a potential. But it only takes two cars to make a race.”
Tandy’s statement that it only takes two cars to make a race is particularly relevant given the friendly intrateam rivalry between the two sides of the Corvette Racing garage. The No. 3 team won that battle handily last year, with Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia (joined by Nicky Catsburg for endurance events) taking five wins and the GTLM driver’s championship. The No. 4 car, by comparison, managed just a single victory and finished third in the standings.
“Fundamentally, we almost have to race ourselves anyway,” said Milner, who raced alongside Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler in 2020. “Both teams of drivers are pushing each other constantly if we don’t have a ton of competition for the shorter races, so that we’re at the top of our game when we go to Daytona, Sebring or Petit Le Mans.”
“So we’ll definitely be pushing to beat those No. 3 car guys as much as we can throughout the year, and certainly the Proton Porsche guys as well.”