No easing into 2015 for two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs
Second season with Chevrolet Corvette C7.R in IMSA competition
Both Corvettes led in GT Le Mans class in last year’s Rolex 24
Corvette C7.R based on production Chevrolet Corvette Z06
DETROIT – The second season for the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R begins this weekend with Corvette Racing set for the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona and the start of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Saturday’s start will be the second consecutive at the twice-around-the-clock race for the team, which prior to 2014 hadn’t raced at Daytona in 13 years.
This time around, the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvette C7.Rs will look to recapture the magic of the 2001 race when Corvette Racing took an overall victory in the Rolex 24. The two Corvettes will be in capable hands this weekend – Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe will pilot the No. 3 Corvette C7.R while Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Simon Pagenaud will share the No. 4 Corvette C7.R in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
All six drivers logged significant time two weeks ago in the three-day Roar Before the 24 test, and Corvette Racing also tested twice in late 2014 to prepare for the TUDOR Championship season. Magnussen was the third-fastest driver at the Roar in the No. 3 Corvette with a 1:44.500 (122.641 mph), and Milner was sixth-fastest at 1:44.799 (122.291 mph).
Long-distance races are nothing new for Corvette Racing. The team has competed for the last 15 years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and raced at the Sebring 12 Hours each year for the past 16 seasons. Still, the physical and mental demands of racing for 24 hours are challenging no matter how much experience a driver, crew member or engineer possesses.
In Corvette Racing’s return to Daytona in 2014, both the Corvette C7.Rs – based on the road-going Corvette Z06 – led during the race before mechanical maladies struck. The No. 3 Corvette suffered engine cooling issues just prior to the halfway mark. The No. 4 Corvette led into the 22nd hour before a transmission bearing failed on the car’s gearbox. At the Roar two weeks ago, however, both cars ran Friday and Saturday with little issue.
The 2015 TUDOR United Sports Car Championship begins with the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona from Jan. 24-25 at Daytona International Speedway. Coverage will alternate between FOX Network, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and IMSA.com. Flag-to-flag radio coverage will be available via IMSA Radio.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(Testing and preparation) “We went through a lot of details and pretty much everything the team wanted to try or to do something different. There isn’t time to really test on the race weekend; you can concentrate in a few setup areas but that’s it. You know how things will go and you just need to double-check things on the track. Once you have everything set from the Roar, there is not much else you can do. Track time is limited and you need to cycle through all the drivers. Conditions are very difficult also because the sessions are usually shorter and further apart in time. You need to get to raceweek with everything tested.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(Approaching 2015 Rolex 24 vs. 2014) “It’s a different situation now. We have a much better sense of direction for the car. It’s still new to us in terms of developing it. There is a long way to go and we are still learning. But we’re not starting from zero this time. We have a good foundation to build on. It’s definitely an advantage over last year.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(Mindset as a third driver at Daytona) “My mindset is to work with the team and do whatever it takes to have the best preparation in order to be the best at the end. The approach may be a little different from the team standpoint because they’re hopefully going to feel a little more confident in me and feel like I don’t need as much time in the car to get up to speed. Last year, maybe a little bit more was taken away from Jan and Antonio in the beginning. But I don’t think it changed much for the team. I think we’ll have the same approach and will make good decisions to get the best setup out of the car.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(Differences in 2015) “The main thing is that we’re one year on with this car. Last year was the first time Corvette Racing had been at Daytona in almost 15 years. It was the first time a lot of us who had come from ALMS were there under one banner for the TUDOR Championship. There was a lot of feeling-out going on. No one really knew how it was going with all the cars being mixed together. This year I think everyone is coming in and they’ve already got an idea as to how everything is going to work after doing a full season of racing with everyone else. It should run a little smoother this year. Not only will the drivers for Corvette Racing have a better understanding of what to do and how things are run, everyone else will as well.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(Endurance history) “Daytona is obviously something different in that it’s a long-distance race where anything can happen. We were certainly pretty competitive in all the long-distance races last year. This tends to be our strong suit – both Oliver and myself along with the team. Certainly our competitors have worked hard over the winter like we have to make their cars better. It’ll be fun to see how competitive we are. It should be close and competitive. The has the potential for being one for the history books.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
(First race with Corvette Racing) “The Corvette roster is the standard. They can win in any class and in any car in the world. It’s really cool to be teammates with all of them and enjoy some good racing together. It’s such a professional team. In racing, you always hope you will get a chance to be a part of the best teams and when it does, it is incredible.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“We accomplished our test program at the Roar in two days. It is an encouraging sign and was very important to get a good sample of data and feedback for when we return to the track Thursday. We were able to get all six drivers – especially Simon and Ryan – significant seat time, which can be difficult at Daytona given the schedule. Everyone at Corvette Racing is looking forward to another great Rolex 24 At Daytona.”
Corvette Racing at Daytona
53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona – GT Le Mans (all times ET)