Defending IMSA GTLM championship team leaves satisfied with testing program
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 7, 2018) – Corvette Racing left Daytona International Speedway content with the results of its testing program following the annual Roar Before the 24 and ahead of the opening race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
The two Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs logged more than 1,400 miles between them during the three days and eight sessions of track time. The packed schedule included a 15-minute qualifying session to determine assignments for the pit boxes and garages when teams return later this month for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Oliver Gavin was the second-fastest GT Le Mans (GTLM) qualifier Sunday in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with a lap of 1:43.640 (123.653 mph). Teammate Antonio Garcia wasn’t far behind in fifth at 1:43.998 (123.227 mph) in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
As it has for the last 20 years, Corvette Racing displayed its usual clever strategy and ingenuity to achieve its qualifying results. Even on a test weekend, the team consciously practiced drafting with its two Corvettes during multiple sessions in order to approach the performance levels of its quicker GTLM competitors.
All six Corvette Racing drivers were on-hand Friday through Sunday. Defending GTLM champions Garcia and Jan Magnussen are teaming with Mike Rockenfeller while Gavin and full-season teammate Tommy Milner are partnering with Marcel Fässler.
Corvette Racing and Chevrolet are coming off a second straight sweep of the GTLM Manufacturer, Driver and Team championships in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – titles won by combining driver skill with smart engineering strategy and team execution. That is a large reason for Corvette Racing’s success ahead of its 20th season – a mark unmatched by any other team in the IMSA paddock.
The Rolex 24 served as the first event for the Corvette Racing program in 1999, and one of the team’s Corvette C5-Rs finished third in class. Two years later, Corvette Racing won the race overall – the first of what is now 106 victories around the world. Fast forward to the current era, and the program added class victories in both 2015 and 2016. The latter was the thrilling 1-2 finish that saw the No. 4 Corvette beat its sister entry by just 0.034 seconds.
That is just one of more than 40 victories for Chevrolet across all motorsports events at Daytona, making it the most successful manufacturer at the World Center of Racing.
Corvette Racing will return to Daytona for the 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-28.
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED SECOND IN GTLM:
“One of the key things for the Corvette Racing program is that we are learning and trying new things all the time. No one here ever rests on their laurels. Yes, we’ve had two very successful seasons, but everybody is still looking for ways to improve whether that is through the car with the technical partners we have with Mobil 1 and Michelin. Or whether it is the way the engineers interact with the drivers, and the drivers are working with each other out on track. That was a key part of the success of that qualifying session. Antonio and I had discussed with one another how we were going to do that session, and our engineering team talked it through with us. We had a strategy and plan, and it worked and paid off. Antonio was in front of me for five laps and basically pulled me around. It got me in second position. It proved that a strategy like that would work. Would we have been this close to the front without that? Absolutely not. I don’t know how far off we would have been, but we certainly wouldn’t have been second. It is nice to see a plan come together and work that way. I think there were a few people, myself included, wondering if it was going to work or not. But you have to put your faith and trust in the people around you and it paid off. Antonio once again drove brilliantly and set it up perfectly. He and I have got some history here now, and we know how to drive around one another here at this track! We have a good understanding and are good friends. It’s great to see a team work together like they did today and profit from it.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED FIFTH IN GTLM:
“Yes, we always come up with something different for sure. It was somewhat of a risk. We practiced that during the last two practices and on old tires. Traffic didn’t make it easy to do it, but then having our two Corvettes so equal made it less difficult. My only goal was to stay as fast as possible all the way to Turn Six, and then give Olly a nice tow all the way to the Bus Stop. We tried one lap where I just stayed in front of him to start/finish, and then the next one was like the finish of the 2016 race where he won by a foot. We timed it so he would go across the line in front of me. So I think it was worth quite a few tenths. We didn’t make it to be the fastest, but, that’s basically what we had to do to finish where we are. That’s really a very small portion of what the 24 Hours will be like, but it is good to have that experience. It was important to follow our test program, and I think everyone has gone according to plan.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“We had a good test and got through a lot of stuff. It was super cold most of the test, so it will be interesting to see if that helps us. Today was a little better and more representative of what we will have for the race. This is a brand new car, so we were able to shake it down and didn’t have any issues. I’m looking forward to coming back for the race week and see what we have.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“As a driver, you always want more and more time in the car, but track time is at a premium at the Roar every year. I feel like we have maximized our efforts and run as many miles and as quickly as we can. We all know that later this month, the track conditions likely will be different. It has been quite cold this week but we have learned things that can help us for the race. I feel we are heading in the right direction. It’s always a pleasure to be in Daytona with Corvette Racing and drive a Corvette around this track.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“The fact that we didn’t have any major issues is definitely a plus. It hasn’t always been like that for us! From that perspective, things couldn’t have gone better. Any opportunity you have to get laps at Daytona this close to the race is super important. We always come into this weekend with lots of things to try and ideas our engineers think might work to keep building on our book of information on these Corvettes. We have a good base to work from, but of the many items our engineers drew up, we saw some little gains from each of them. That’s encouraging for us.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R:
“Everything has run quite well. There were a number of items on our test plan, and we ran through it fairly smoothly. This is why we are here – to test different kinds of things to make progress and development with the car. I also am happy with the time I could spend in the Corvette, even dividing it between three drivers. It was fairly easy to adapt to the car again after some time away… shortly after Petit Le Mans. This was a great opportunity to be back in it and with the team. I think we all feel good after this test.”
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