Corvette Racing has split its commitments this year, running one C8.R full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, and another full-time in the World Endurance Championship for Milner and Nick Tandy.
Then the two cars run together in the respective marquee events of each championship, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Le Mans.
On Thursday, Tandy (car #64) and Garcia (car #63) secured for Corvette a GTE Pro-class front-row lockout, and then also took first and second in final practice that night.
Milner, who has been with the team since 2011 and has twice won the class at Le Mans, says that the 2022 iteration of the team and car are the best he’s experienced there.
“To me, it feels like we are the best prepared we’ve ever been with a car that is the best I’ve ever had at Le Mans,” he said of the C8.R that he will share not only with Tandy but also Alexander Sims. “From that side of things, I’m excited about the race.”
“Now, saying all that, there are years where we didn’t have the best preparation and won, and there are years where we had great preparation and didn’t get the win”.
“We’ve done everything we needed going into this. Like Le Mans always is, the race is its own separate beast. Having success will require using all the things we’ve learned so far, putting those to the test, not making mistakes, and having a good, clean race. We’ve been fast in the practice sessions but performance in the race is what matters.”
Milner added that running the full WEC schedule has played a vital role in Corvette Racing’s strong preparation for the event, but was reticent to say it was vital for the win since the team has amassed eight Le Mans victories, despite having never run a full-time WEC campaign prior to 2022.
“It’s easy to say that the WEC program has helped in the current state because we’ve had a good week,” he observed. “There are a few areas where you could definitely say, ‘Yes, having done the WEC, we are better.”
“Things like pitstops and having the chance to put those to the test at Sebring and Spa. We saw there was room to improve there, and the team did a great job to figure out how to make them faster. That’s one area. There’s a case to be made for a lot of other areas as well.”
“But I hesitate to say that it’s necessary to do WEC to be successful here. In a lot of ways, things feel just like they always have. The attention to detail is the same, but nothing beats experience. In my view, the team is in a good place.”
Tandy commented: “This year does feel different from last year. We’ve obviously taken a step forward with what we know about this car and this racetrack. But also the basic preparation of the team being in this WEC paddock with this Corvette and these regulations, there is a bit of pressure off… It’s a familiar environment.”
“We have the experience of how to make the most out of the pitstops and with the way the sporting regulations work, which is different from how we normally choreograph pitstops. We have had it pre-organized and practiced. We know what to do with heated tires – these sorts of things with the WEC-specific tire compounds.”
“It’s all these kinds of things that we’d normally experience for the first time. Now it’s in our pocket.”
Tandy, like Milner, cautioned that nothing can be taken as read, but that the team couldn’t have done a better job.
“I’m pretty sure we’re the team that has done the most laps and done the most quality running,” he said. “The race is still to come, anything can happen, but looking at how the build-up has been the last week, we couldn’t ask for more. With qualifying both cars on the front row and having really good knowledge through practice about all the different conditions we can experience. There isn’t a great deal extra that we could have done as a team to prepare: we have all the basics covered.“
“Now we need to go into the race and perform and hope for a bit of luck. The drivers are ready. The car and the team are ready. Now let’s go out and win a 24-hour race.”