Photo Credit: IMSA.com
New Chevrolet GT race cars display competitive balance in 2014 opener
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2014) – In its return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Corvette Racing experienced the highs and lows of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic. In their competitive debut, both of the team’s Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs led the opening round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The new racing Corvette showed promise with impressive speed and economy ahead of its full-season campaign in North America’s new sports car racing championship.
The No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell led the Corvette Racing effort placed a disappointing fifth in the GT Le Mans class following a problem with the car’s gearbox with less than three hours to go. Milner, running second at the time, was chasing the eventual race-winning car when the Corvette’s gearbox temperature rose dramatically. Milner went directly to the garage where the team diagnosed the problem as a transmission bearing failure. The Corvette Racing crew switched out the gearbox in 30 minutes and sent Milner back to the race.
Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe each had impressive drives to take the No. 3 Corvette C7.R from the rear of the grid at the start to the class lead at the six-and-a-half hour mark. The balance and stability of the Corvette was evident in the track’s infield section and allowed all three drivers to cut through slower traffic. Unfortunately the engine began to overheat during Garcia’s stint near the halfway mark. He handed over to Briscoe, who was called first to the pits then to the garage on more than one occasion to try and solve the cooling problem – a task that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
“This is an example of how difficult the Rolex 24 can be,” said Mark Kent, Chevrolet’s Director of Racing. “On one hand, we are very encouraged with the initial showing of the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. The promise the car displayed was evident on both the No. 3 and No. 4 side. Unfortunately these things happen in a race as long and grueling as this one. Hats off to the efforts by everyone at Corvette Racing and Team Chevy for their efforts. We will examine these issues, find the root causes and resolve them prior to the next race at Sebring.”
The next round of the TUDOR Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, March 15
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I had quite a good couple of stints. Luckily both the yellows came two-thirds or three-quarters into each of the stints so it wasn’t easy to make decisions on pit strategies and tires. We just did fuel on the first one and chose just right-side tires and fuel on the second one. I got out again with no problem. The Porsche had four tires so he had an advantage. In the end, I was having some issues with some sudden oversteering. I thought there was oil on the track but it was me that was leaking water from the engine so I spun on my own water. It got worse and worse and we decided to stop to check everything.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“This definitely wasn’t the result everyone was looking for. All in all, the car was quite fast. We weren’t the fastest car out there but a podium was definitely in the cards. I feel really sorry for all the guys who worked so hard to get us here. We will come back to Sebring stronger. For me the opening stint was about me staying out of trouble and trying to make up as much of the ground as possible. I really thought I would get by all the GT Daytona cars and then have a big gap up to the GTLM cars but it wasn’t that big when I finally came through. I thought I needed a safety car to bunch everyone up but we were right there at the end of my first double-stint. After that, we all had a good couple of stints to get into the lead. It all went downhill from there, unfortunately. It’s a new car with a ton of potential. We are just scratching the surface. It already is a great car. We just need to iron out the bugs.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I was having a great time driving the Corvette C7.R The car was really good to drive. It was the best-handling car as far as I could see. We were really good and really strong, and we were definitely contenders until we started having some overheating issues. It was a real honor to be part of Corvette Racing for the first time. I’m looking forward to more.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It was great to finally race the Corvette C7.R. I really enjoyed my stints in the car and racing against the competition in our class. It was building up to a really grandstanding finish between us, the Porsche and the BMW. Unfortunately both Corvette Racing and the fans were robbed of that due to our transmission problem. But that is the nature of endurance racing. The C7.R is a brand new race car, and for it to go 22.5 hours with a major problem is a real testament to the team, Chevrolet and Pratt & Miler. Kudos to the Corvette Racing team for working as hard as they did to get the gearbox changed; it was a massive effort by everyone involved. So while the result is frustrating, I can’t thank everyone enough for all they gave this weekend.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I got warnings on the dash coming out of NASCAR Turn 4 that the gearbox was hot. Then it got real hot real fast. As I worked down the gears at Turn 1, it was very rough-sounding at the back of the car and was getting worse. The car was running OK. I could still go very quick. I did about half a lap. But when I got to Turn 6, there was a lot of smoke out of the back of the car so I pulled down to the inside.”
ROBIN LIDDELL, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“Your expectations change in a race like this depending on how you’re doing. When you’re in a position suddenly with three hours to go and the potential to win it, suddenly your expectations ramp right up. Then when something happens, you feel like you’ve been robbed. But stepping back from that, overall we had a pretty good showing with a brand new car. It was a particularly hard race with the lack of class disparity between the speeds of the classes. In the end, the car performed very well. It’s clearly a contender. Once the season gets under way and everything settles down, it will all start to come together. I’m really happy to be part of this team and be part of this first race.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“Our return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona proved once again that Corvette Racing never gives up. It was a phenomenal effort by the drivers and crews of both the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvette C7.Rs to get both cars to the front under difficult circumstances. The potential of the C7.R package is clear. As we witnessed today, Daytona gives so much but can just as easily take it away. The results maybe not be what we wanted but, the excitement we generated today will be carried right over to Sebring!”