It’s only about an hour’s flight from Detroit to Watkins Glen International but, over the years, the two have been worlds away from the perspective of Corvette Racing. With the advent of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship however, that distance is no more. America’s leading production-based racing team gets its first shot this weekend at the famed road course during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
The event is the second endurance race in two weeks for Corvette Racing, which finished second and fourth in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen – runners-up at Le Mans with Jordan Taylor – are on a two-race winning streak in the TUDOR Championship and stand second in GT Le Mans points in their No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette are tied for third in the championship and look for their first victory of the season. They were fourth at Le Mans with Richard Westbrook.
Although the team has not raced at The Glen, the four Corvette Racing drivers aren’t complete strangers to the circuit. At the fore is Garcia, who hasn’t missed the Six Hours since 2010 when he finished third overall for Spirit of Daytona. Magnussen was a GT winner in 2005, and Gavin (2000 overall) and Milner (2011 GT) have runner-up finishes.
Climbing back on the podium – much less the top step – will require plenty of skill with a little luck. Sunday’s race marks the first since Sebring in March where all four TUDOR Championship classes will share the track at the same time. The grid stands at 55 cars for the 3.37-mile, 11-turn circuit.
The construction and performance of the Corvette C7.R gives Corvette Racing a key advantage. Based on the 2015 Corvette Z06 production car, the C7.R’s rigid frame gives the car improved cornering ability and stability. Those factors plus the Corvette’s impressive braking performance and throttle response along with Corvette Racing’s strategy and execution will be keys to success.
The Watkins Glen round also doubles as the third race of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. It is a special four-race competition made up of the TUDOR Championship’s true endurance rounds. Gavin and Milner are tied for second in GTLM with Garcia and Magnussen standing seventh.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It is a short turnaround after a difficult race like Le Mans, but I am happy to go back to Watkins Glen and race the Corvette C7.R for the first time. Certainly it will be much different competing with the C7.R than a DP. This track has a good blend of high-speed parts and technical areas, so Corvette Racing should be able to challenge for another win. Things won’t be so easy with a six-hour race and lots of traffic. However, Corvette Racing has shown that we produce good strategies and excellent pit stops. It would be great if Jan and I could win our third straight TUDOR Championship race after a second-place at Le Mans. Regardless, a good finish would help us in the points race.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It will be the first time for me in a Corvette at Watkins Glen. It’s an interesting place with a lot of history. The times that I’ve been there in other cars, I’ve enjoyed it a lot. So I’m looking forward to go back there and get back into the TUDOR Championship where we have won consecutive races. We’ve proven the car is good in all conditions. I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be able to fight for a win. It’s longer than a standard TUDOR Championship race and puts a lot more importance on pit stops and strategy. In the past, Corvette Racing has been very, very good in those areas and absolutely have been one of the team’s strongest points.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s very much what you’d call an old-school track. It’s got three or four corners on it that are fast and really challenging. You get a huge amount of satisfaction from doing them well. It’s a circuit where you need courage and be fully committed all the time. If you’re at all timid or hesitant with it, then it can bite you. Generally the surface has a high level of grip. You can make a case for many different spots on the track being crucial for lap time, but I would stick my neck out and say that coming out of Turn 1 and uphill to the Esses is one of the biggest influencers.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“If you’re going to put together a calendar for sports car racing in the U.S., you have to have Watkins Glen. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for awhile. I haven’t won there but definitely want to add it to my résumé. I feel pretty confident going there. We have some experience with the car in a low-downforce trim, so if we need to go in that direction we have some knowledge to build from. And we typically run max downforce in the U.S. So no matter what, we should have a good car there. For some of our competitors, a six-hour race will feel a little long. But for us having just come back from Le Mans and doing 24 hours, it will feel like a breeze!”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“It has been a long time coming but I am personally thrilled to see Corvette Racing finally compete at Watkins Glen. It is an iconic track with such a rich global history, and everyone on the team is excited by the opportunity to see and hear our Corvette C7.Rs make their Glen debuts. As the fans know, it’s a very short turnaround time for us following our strong showing at Le Mans. Rest assured, we readily accept that challenge and are welcoming the opportunity to showcase some ‘Ground Pounding American Thunder’ to all the Corvette and TUDOR Championship fans!”