After the two longest races on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, Corvette Racing moves to the shortest event on its calendar – the 100-minute Long Beach event in California.
With a truncated timetable and practice and qualifying being at opposite ends of the day, the TUSC race fitting into the Grand Prix of Long Beach Indycar weekend, the event is one of the most challenging of the season. It’s a sprint through the streets of Long Beach – an 11-turn, 1.968-mile circuit that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Corvette Racing has been part of the last seven Long Beach weekends with the American Le Mans Series, and the results have been overwhelmingly solid. The team has four victories at the circuit to its credit, the most recent being Olly and Tommy’s in 2012. A Corvette Racing driver also has set the fastest race lap in class each of the last seven years.
Redemption is top of mind for America’s premier production-based sports car team. Both the Corvette C7.Rs led significant portions of the first two rounds at Daytona and Sebring but the results don’t reflect the efforts of the drivers and team.
The No. 4 Corvette of Olly, Tommy and Robin Liddell was the dominant car in class at Sebring, having led a majority of the race before a fuel pressure issue took the car out of contention. Likewise, the No. 3 entry of Antonio, Jan and Ryan Briscoe (competing in this weekend’s IndyCar race) led at Sebring despite an opening-lap collision and a punctured tyre.
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I do like Long Beach and the circuit. The new Corvette C7.R should be strong there, and I know the guys at Corvette Racing have been working on the setup for this weekend. Because we have so little track time, you have to make sure you come off the truck fast. In previous years, we’ve done that very well.”
Keys to success) “A street circuit can make a little difference to a driver but at the same time you have to say to that you can only drive around in the car you’re given. Sometimes little tweaks and little things in just the right spots can make the difference in having a car on the front row and winning or losing the race. Pace is very, very important there because it’s a short race. You need to qualify well and on top of everything. That’s one of the things Corvette Racing has been good at for so long. We’re hoping for that again this year.”
(Strategy focus): “It’s most probably the one race where it’s all focused on your one pit stop if everything goes well. You have to get it right. You don’t get any second chances because there is no window for a second stop to make up any time or turn your strategy around. Once you do your stop, you’re done and you’re committed. As a driver, you’re mindful that the in-lap and the out-lap are vitally important. There are so many things you have to weigh. In terms of the work level that the driver actually does driving the car is quite short, but it’s very focus. You know that any slip-up is going to make a huge difference on the outcome of your race.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“This weekend is equally important as the first two races at Daytona and Sebring but it’s fun for different reasons. It is so short and goes through downtown Long Beach. It’s definitely a whole different mindset. We have such limited practice time. We go there with a new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R unsure of how the car will be on a tight track like Long Beach. I don’t think it will pose any problems for us. Obviously a new car shows us some new things with how it reacts to setup changes and stuff like that. So far, the new Corvette C7.R has been as good if not better in every area of performance compared to the C6.R. I don’t forsee it being an issue for us, but there are always new things to learn.”
(Corvette strengths) “In years past, it seems like what has helped us at Long Beach has been our braking performance. With the Corvette C7.R, one area where we have improved is putting power down. Those are two pretty crucial parts of having a fast car at Long Beach. So if the power-down is improved like it was at Daytona and Sebring then I think we’ll be pretty good shape for Long Beach.”
(A two-class race) “I’m definitely excited to see what the race will be like with just us and the prototypes. The other classes provide for great racing and the fans like to see that. But after some of the issues the series faced at the first couple of races with some long caution periods, hopefully with two professional categories and drivers racing together that we don’t have too many accidents and put on a good show for the fans.”