For Corvette Racing, this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona was a dominating one-two performance in the GT Le Mans class. Nicky Catsburg, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor earned the class victory after 24 hours of racing.
However, right after that victory took place, Corvette Racing made an announcement that sobered the celebration. They announced that Garcia had tested positive for COVID-19. At the time that he learned of his positive test, he had just gotten out of the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. Once he learned of the test results, he changed out of his fire suit into street clothes and left the track.
Garcia lives full-time in Spain and commutes to the United States in order to race, something that is currently allowed without a mandatory quarantine due to exceptions for athletes put in place last year. However, he is not exempt from the new regulations that require all international travelers to submit a negative COVID-19 test before they can board an international flight leaving the United States. Garcia took the COVID-19 test so that he could fly home to Spain after the race.
With Garcia eliminated from further competition, Taylor and Catsburg had to finish the race by themselves. The team was not in any trouble in regards to drive-time due to the fact that Garcia had spent eight hours in the car before being informed of his positive test results.
Garcia is a private person and you don’t heard much about him away from the track. Regardless, he took to Twitter to give some back story, both in Spanish and English.
I think some clarification is needed:
I didn’t inform on social media that I had Covid-19 during the second half of December. I felt it was something personal. Luckily I did recovered from all the symptoms I had, and followed all protocols. I’m clear & recovered from my physician
— Antonio García (@AntonioGarcia_3) January 31, 2021
The Spanish tweets were a little more detailed. There, Garcia tweeted that he tested positive for COVID-19 in December and was showing symptoms. He quarantined himself for the mandatory 10 days, then took more tests. He was apparently cleared by his doctor on Jan. 8. He finds it very surprising that he has tested positive again.
For now, Garcia will be unable to leave the country. He’ll have to quarantine in Florida for the next 10-14 days, then test negative before he could leave.
With Oliver Gavin‘s retirement from full-time racing after Sebring in November, Garcia is now the longest-tenured driver at Corvette Racing, having driven for the team since 2009. Everyone else with the team has a great deal of respect for him.
“It was bittersweet to end the day like we did with Antonio having to leave the track after the test,” Taylor said during the post-race press conference Sunday. “I was super upset and disappointed for him when I got out of the car after what I thought was my last stint and was told he couldn’t get back in the car. He lives for these events, especially this one. He really wanted to finish this race to capitalize on when they finished second in 2016 to kind of make up for that. So I felt bad for him in that respect, but he should be unbelievably proud of this whole team.”
NBCSports.com’s Nate Ryan wrote that Taylor continued on to say that he hadn’t seen Garcia since before the race started on Saturday. Neither Taylor nor Catsburg touched anything in the car with their bare hands and always had their helmets on when in the car. As a result, they felt reasonably safe. That said, Taylor is planning on quarantining at home in Altamonte Springs, Fla., which is a suburb of Orlando. Catsburg is planning on taking another test before he returns home to The Netherlands.
However, Garcia wasn’t the only driver to test positive for COVID-19 this weekend. Alegra Motorsports was left scrambling in the hours leading up to the race when it became known that Michael de Quesada, son of team owner Carlos de Quesada, had tested positive.
The team officially announced the positive test less than an hour before the start of the race. Mike Skeen, who had finished in the top five Saturday in the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona for BimmerWorld Racing, was drafted in to replace the young Canadian racer. The team would eventually finish ninth in GT Daytona.
Also, prior to the race weekend starting, Mathieu Jaminet announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Jaminet was scheduled to drive for RWR Eurasia in the LMP2 class. He was ultimately replaced by Sven Mueller.
Based on what Garcia has said, it doesn’t appear that he is suffering from any symptoms of COVID-19 at the present time. It is unclear whether de Quesada is or not. Regardless, both drivers are currently in isolation.