Three-day test at Daytona for three-time Rolex 24 class winner
DETROIT (Jan. 4, 2017) – It’s time for Corvette Racing to again head back to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the first testing laps of 2017. The offseason hasn’t been much of one for the defending GT Le Mans (GTLM) titlists in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. But offseason becomes preseason with this weekend’s Roar Before the 24 and the prelude to the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Corvette Racing heads into 2017 with back-to-back wins at the Rolex 24 and a total of three victories in six starts at Daytona. The successes in 2016 and 2015 can be traced back to good showings at the Roar, where WeatherTech teams can get upward of 12 hours of valuable track time.
Since the end of the 2016 IMSA season, Corvette Racing has focused on multiple areas of system development, operational enhancements and Michelin tire selections to bolster what is perennially one of sports car racing’s best programs. In 2016, Corvette Racing won five times (the most in GTLM) and swept all six class championships: Manufacturer, Driver and Team.
Last year’s Rolex 24 saw Corvette Racing finish 1-2 in GTLM with the two Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs separated by just 0.034 seconds at the checkered flag – the closest finish in Rolex 24 history regardless of class.
Defending champions Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler are back in the last year’s race-winning No. 4 Corvette C7.R. It was the first Rolex 24 win for all three drivers, who also won together in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Those two victories along with triumphs at Lime Rock and Road America helped Gavin and Milner to the GTLM Driver’s Championship as well as the Manufacturer’s title for Chevrolet.
Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller were second in last year’s race driving the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. Garcia and Magnussen were part of the 2015 class-winning lineup for Corvette Racing and were overall winners at VIR in 2016.
The Rolex 24 was the site of Corvette Racing’s debut on Jan. 31, 1999. Since that first race, the team has competed in more than 170 events around the globe with 102 victories worldwide – including five wins in 2016 – along with 11 Manufacturer and Team championships in the American Le Mans Series and WeatherTech Championship to go along with eight victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“The time since Petit Le Mans has been very busy for us with multiple tests of our Corvettes, some new system improvements and tires from Michelin. So while there has not been much of an offseason, I feel like we are very well prepared for this year’s Roar at Daytona. Corvette Racing has won the last two years there in GTLM and the nature of the track seems to be very good for us. This is an important three days coming up with not a lot of time for any other big changes to the car once we return for the race. The goal is to leave the Roar with a good plan and setup for the Rolex 24.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“I feel like this has been one of the busiest offseasons that I’ve had since joining Corvette Racing. Unlike this time last year where we were working on a new aero package and revised bodywork, the development for this year has been more subtle but still very important. Every improvement we make in testing puts us in that much better position heading to the Daytona race. I think we have used our time wisely.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“Getting back into the Corvette C7.R last month was very beneficial. You can never get enough laps especially ahead of a race like Daytona. I’m really excited to keep working through programs and strategies with the engineers and team. A lot of work has gone on since the last race of 2016. I am confident this will help us as we get closer to the Rolex 24.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“It was nice going back to Daytona last month for the two-day test. It brought back memories of last year’s race and finish, and I’m sure there will be more of that to come between now and the race. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot in our testing in October through December, which will bode well for how we approach the Roar. We know how well the Corvette C7.R works at Daytona so we’re heading there with a lot of confidence.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“It’s been busy to say the least! We haven’t had a lot of downtime since winning the GTLM championship but all the work has been worth it. We have been focusing on more specific areas of development in both the car and the team as a whole. The performance of Corvette Racing last year was outstanding, and that is evident by the success we enjoyed. In this class, you have to keep striving to maximize every opportunity you can. That’s why the Roar is so important if we want to continue last year’s momentum into another strong Rolex 24.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“I really enjoyed returning to Corvette Racing and testing at Daytona last month. Both Rocky (Mike Rockenfeller) and I were able to do a large number of laps to again familiarize ourselves with the Corvette C7.R and some of the changes the team worked on in October and November. Everything seems very positive going into the Roar. We saw last year how important it is to turn lots of laps in order to arrive at a good baseline for the race. We are of course hoping to repeat that again.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER:
“Most fans are under the impression that after Petit Le Mans we go into our ‘offseason’. In reality, we actually get right into what turns out to be the busiest part of our year. The team has collected an entire year’s worth of data that our engineers have to convert into meaningful improvements. All these ideas have to then be designed, built, installed and tested before we open up at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Those are the reasons why the Roar is so very important for us. At this point, the guys are totally motivated an anxious to get back on the track to defend all our 2016 championships. I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be the best year of competition yet in GTLM!”
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