After sweeping to victory in the GT Le Mans (GLTM) class at the two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races last month in California, Corvette Racing drivers Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy are fueled with energy heading into this week’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.
Saturday’s race at VIRginia International Raceway – broadcast live at noon ET on NBC – provides a true homecoming for Milner, who lives in Ashburn, Virginia. Though No. 4 Corvette C8.R co-driver Tandy is British, the nature of the track makes it feel like a homecoming for him as well.
“I'm really excited to get another IMSA race since we are two for our last two,” Milner said. “Nick and I are heading into VIR with some momentum, but we'll have to work as hard as ever to continue that trend. VIR is an awesome, awesome racetrack ... one that is a lot different than what we are coming off of at Long Beach and even (WeatherTech Raceway) Laguna Seca.
“There is a ton of grip at VIR so it will be a fun challenge. This C8.R was a lot of fun to drive there last year. It's improved from last year so I'm looking forward to seeing how good it is around VIR this time around.”
Milner has two IMSA wins at VIR, but the last came in 2012 when he and then-Corvette teammate Oliver Gavin clinched the GT class championship with a victory. Tandy has a pair of VIR triumphs as well, though they came with Porsche in GTLM competition in 2015 and ’19.
“I love VIR … absolutely love it!” Tandy said. “I have since the first time I went there. It reminds me of racing at a lot of tracks where I grew up in the U.K. There is greenery everywhere. It feels different and is one of my favorite tracks on the calendar.
“Past that, the track layout is awesome. It has everything: super-fast with long straights, elevation changes, slow technical sections and super-high-speed technical sections. It definitely is one of my favorite places to race on the IMSA calendar.”
Milner and Tandy’s teammates, No. 3 Corvette co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor, are the reigning overall and GTLM winners at VIR. Garcia, in fact, has won three of the last five races on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit.
The other GTLM entry, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19, teams full-season driver Cooper MacNeil with Kevin Estre. The latter made his first WeatherTech Championship start since 2017 in the No. 79 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona to start the 2021 season. Estre tested in the car at VIR last month but it will be his first race at the track in seven years.
“I’m really pleased to go back to VIR,” the French driver said. “I did the IMSA GT race back in 2014. It didn’t go so well, but I really like the track. There is a lot of risk in a fast lap there, but with the good aero of the Porsche 911 RSR, it makes it fun and fast for a driver. It is a short weekend, so we need to have error-free practice, good strategy in the race and we can come away with a result.”
WeatherTech Championship practice and qualifying takes place Friday at VIR, ahead of the expected green flag for the two-hour, 40-minute race at 12:10 p.m. ET Saturday.