With no chance of any championship title success in 2014, Olly and Tommy will be playing the team game from here on in to try and gain as many points as possible for Chevrolet in the Manufacturers championship and Corvette Racing in the teams’ title race. The duo in the No.4 will, all the while, be aiming for their first win of 2014! Here is the team’s official preview for this weekend’s VIR round.
Corvette Racing’s first two years at Virginia International Raceway brought it championship bounties. This weekend, the team has a chance for another landmark in its history – an overall victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Corvette Racing will try and make that a reality in Sunday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR.
The ninth TUDOR Championship race for Corvette Racing is set for 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday and features the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class – in which Corvette Racing competes – and the slower GT Daytona (GTD). After this weekend, only two events will remain. Heading to Virginia, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen lead the GTLM driver’s championship as does Chevrolet in the manufacturer standings. The No. 3 Corvette Racing entry heads team points.
As was the case in 2012 and 2013, Corvette Racing comes to VIR with two entries. But unlike those two years, the vehicle of choice is the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Garcia and Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette, and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 C7.R. In its first season with the C7.R, Corvette Racing has won four straight GT Le Mans races in mid-season and placed second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 2002, Gavin and Milner won the American Le Mans Series’ GT class by 20 seconds in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. It was the fourth of the year for the duo and delivered three additional trophies: ALMS GT driver, manufacturer and team championships. In addition, Garcia set the fastest race lap in the No. 3 Corvette despite the car being caught up in a multi-car crash on a frenzied start.
The 2013 race provided a similar bounty. A third-place finish at VIR for Garcia and Magnussen landed Chevrolet a second straight GT manufacturer title and consecutive team titles for Corvette Racing. The driver’s championship for Garcia and Magnussen came a race later at Road Atlanta, but their podium result at VIR gave them a comfortable margin heading into the season finale where they claimed the GT championship. It marked the final appearance at VIR for the Corvette C6.R.
Fast-forwarding to this year’s Oak Tree Grand Prix, there’s no reason to think the new Corvette will be any less competitive than the C6.R. Starting at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Corvette showed consistent performance across different types of circuits. Gavin set the fastest race lap at Sebring as the No. 4 Corvette dominated but fell short of a victory. At Long Beach, Garcia and Magnussen won their first race of the year; Magnussen captured pole position and Milner set the fastest race lap.
Garcia and Magnussen added another victory at Laguna Seca – their second straight at the track – and Garcia was the fastest qualifier. After finishing second and fourth at Le Mans, Garcia and Magnussen continued their winning ways at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
FOX Sports 1’s live television coverage of the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR starts at 4 p.m. ET Sunday. Live coverage of qualifying begins at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on IMSA.com.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“You need to have good braking and traction performance at VIR. The corners do not have as long a radius (as Road America) which means it comes down to how long you can roll through the corners and stay brave enough to keep it on track. VIR is one of those tracks where you don’t want to go off. All the combinations and fast sections are very challenging. You are constantly cornering and always turning. Managing traffic is still important if you have the fastest cars or not. You can be stuck behind someone and not have a way to get around for quite awhile. The GT Daytona cars are almost as fast as us on a straight so it may be a matter of them passing us before the braking zone.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“The track itself is different from anywhere else we go. It’s very interesting and very old school. To me, it’s incredible driving there and a very huge challenge. It’s a technical race track and super quick. The Corvette does well there because in the past – and we still do – because the car performs well with good mechanical grip and with aero.”
“It can be a very technical track and a very fast track. The first few corners are technical in nature, then you come up the hill into some very fast sweepers. That requites high-speed balance and making sure your car has good downforce. Then you go to the Oak Tree Corner, which is the slowest turn on the track before going down a very, very long straight. So you’re trying to strike that balance of drag over downforce. It’s always that balancing act. It’s a huge challenge and that’s what everyone relishes when they go to a track. It’s a tough one to get right. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be as much fun.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s going to be great going back to VIR. They’ve made a bunch of changes this year to a number of places. They’ve repaved the surface and have added some runoff curbing and some room for runoff in some important corners. It was always a challenge there to be on the right line or you risked having some big moments. I don’t think they’ve taken any of the challenge away; they’ve made it a little nicer for us on the track for us drivers with multiple classes where you need that extra six inches of road to keep close to your competitors. I’m excited to see how that works.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“VIR is an old-school track that has quickly become one we look forward to. The last two years have been good for both Chevrolet and Corvette Racing with championship-clinching results in each. This season, the GTLM title is as close as ever. After four straight wins in the middle of the season, we’re anxious to get back on the winning track and widen our points advantage. The hope is that VIR will be the track where the Corvette C7.Rs can fight for a victory again.”