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Potent Corvette lineup adds Jordan Taylor for 2020 IMSA season

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Corvette Racing’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team in 2020 will feature a four-driver lineup with a combined 102 wins and 13 championships. It’s the first time in nearly a decade the team will have a new full-season driver roster as the team gears up to compete with the new Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

Jordan Taylor, who has 21 wins and two championships in IMSA competition, has been named to the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C8.R. He will join Antonio Garcia, who has 17 wins and three championships.

Taylor replaces the legendary Jan Magnussen, who retired at the end of the 2019 season.

Oliver Gavin, who has an incredible 48 wins and six championships, returns with Tommy Milner (16 wins and two championships) in the No 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette for the ninth-consecutive year. They are the longest-running driver pairing in IMSA.

Both cars with all four drivers will compete in the entire GTLM season.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have this group of talented drivers behind the wheel of the mid-engine Corvette C8.R for the 2020 IMSA season,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president, Performance and Motorsports.  “Given our rich history at Daytona International Speedway, we are proud to debut the C8.R at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.”

Taylor has previous experience as a driver for Corvette Racing, having been part of the team’s endurance lineup from 2012-2017. In that span, he was part of a Corvette Racing victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and finished second at Sebring and Petit Le Mans in 2012. Taylor, a two-time IMSA Driver’s Champion, will partner with Garcia. The two were endurance teammates in 2012-14 and again in 2017.

“It’s a huge honor to be back with Corvette Racing for 2020 and part of the full-season lineup,” Taylor said. “I’m very proud to be joining one of the most successful teams in sports car racing history and to represent the Corvette and Chevrolet brands. I was very fortunate to spend six years with Corvette in the endurance races driving both the C6.R and C7.R. Now being back with the brand new C8.R is really special. I am especially happy to be back driving alongside Antonio, who I believe is one of the best GT drivers in the world. I know I will have a lot to learn over the next few months leading to Daytona, but I’m ready and looking forward to the challenge of GTLM.”

This will be Garcia’s ninth full season with Corvette Racing, having partnered with Jan Magnussen for the previous eight. Garcia has 16 wins with Corvette, including three at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Garcia is also a three-time GTLM Driver’s Champion.

“First off, thanks to Jan for all the great years we had in Corvette Racing,” Garcia said. “I’m proud of what we all were able to accomplish together as a team.

“Now as I look ahead, welcome back to Jordan. I am happy to have him now as a full-time teammate. We obviously know each other very well, so I’m looking forward sharing the car together and hopefully returning to our usual Corvette Racing form. The 2020 season is an important one for all of Corvette Racing with the new C8.R. It’s very different from any Corvette I have ever driven but in a positive way. I’m anxious to continue testing and development with all our team.”

Gavin and Milner continue a partnership that is the standard-bearer for Corvette Racing and modern-day IMSA. They’ve won 14 races and two IMSA titles together, the most recent in 2016.

Gavin will compete for the 19th consecutive season with Corvette Racing and is the longest-serving and most successful driver in team history. He has 50 victories with the program including five at Le Mans; his most recent was 2015 with Milner and Taylor.

“It’s another honor to represent Chevrolet and Corvette Racing again in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” Gavin said. “If you had told me back in 2002 when I first joined the program that I would continue for 19 years, I’d never believe it. I’m appreciative of the confidence that everyone at Corvette Racing has in me, and I’m absolutely delighted to be back with Tommy now in the Corvette C8.R. It’s a wonderful car to drive and is a huge step forward for Corvette Racing. Tommy and I have been together for many races and many seasons. Certainly, last year was full of misfortune and things not going our way. The great thing about Corvette Racing is that we always try to take that next step above our competitors, and I think we have an excellent chance to do that with the C8.R.”

Milner joined the team in 2011 and won Le Mans for the first time the same season. He was teamed with Gavin the following year, and they went on to win the American Le Mans Series’ GT Championship.

“I can’t wait to start this next chapter of Corvette Racing with the entire team, which has worked so hard on the new 2020 Corvette C8.R race car,” Milner said. “This will be the biggest adjustment the program has ever had to make with an all-new car. But with the time, effort and testing spent so far, I’m confident we will be ready to take on all challenges. I’m really looking forward to be continuing with Oliver again in the No. 4 car, and I think we’re both eager to get back to winning races and championships with this new Corvette.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.