The Corvette C8.R has completed its first-ever race on European soil, with Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin finishing fourth in Saturday’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa.
The American team started fifth in class after a difficult qualifying session on Friday, although the No. 63 Corvette C8.R showed stronger pace in race trim, battling with the Porsche GT Team and AF Corse Ferrari entries. Corvette Racing elected to put Antonio Garcia on an alternate strategy for the opening stint, keeping him on the same set of Michelin tires to give Gavin and him fresher rubber for the race’s closing stages.
Gavin drove the middle two stints after Garcia, passing one of the Porsche GT Team cars after it suffered a puncture. Garcia then got back in the car with just over two hours remaining, setting the Corvette’s fastest race lap in the process, a 2:14.622 (116.383 mph), which was the third-fastest race lap in GTE Pro. Garcia pushed for a podium finish in the closing laps, but ultimately didn’t have the pace to keep up with the front-running Porsche and two Ferraris.
Garcia was disappointed to miss out on the podium and was looking forward to potentially celebrating a strong result with Gavin, who announced earlier in the weekend that he would be retiring from pro-level racing after Spa. It marked the first time the two Corvette Racing veterans had shared the same car despite their long respective careers with the GM factory team.
“I really wanted us to finish on the podium,” Garcia said. “That was my main push the whole race was to be up there with him, even if we knew getting on the top step was almost impossible. But being up there would have been super-nice. I gave all I had to do it. It wasn’t enough for sure, but it was good to share a Corvette with him for once. I would have liked to have to get a better result. But as a team, we can take the good things from this race and the information on the car ahead toward Le Mans.”
While fourth is a less-than-ideal result, Corvette Racing says the main target for the Spa event was to “gain knowledge and experience with the Corvette C8.R in the FIA WEC ahead of August’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.” Corvette Racing was absent from FIA WEC competition last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it wanted to give its team a refreshed on various FIA WEC rules and procedures ahead of their appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year.
Full highlights from the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa can be seen in the video embedded below. Click here for full results from the 2021 FIA WEC season-opener.