Disappointing Finishes Despite Outstanding Driver Performance
On Saturday, March 17, 2018, Corvette Racing started their run in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with the hopes of winning four in a row at the famous racetrack. As the race drew to a close, both teams struggled to keep up with the front-runners during the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event despite a trouble-free run by the No. 4 Corvette C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.
The No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R started ninth in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. The Corvette was masterfully handled by Gavin, Milner and Marcel throughout the day, and climbed from its starting position in the back of the pack to first place at the four hour mark. However, despite a flawless run, the car was just not setup to compete with the race leaders and ultimately finished in sixth place in class.
“It looked like in the middle of the race that we were looking pretty good,” stated Oliver Gavin. “As we started to lose the sunlight, it looked like we lost the balance and performance in the car. We were unable to generate the grip we needed to be competitive. There are some lessons to learn here. We battled all weekend with our Corvette and tried to come away with as many points as possible. It’s frustrating through to have a clean race, not make any mistakes and come away with nothing.”
Defending Sebring class winners Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller took turns piloting the No. 3 Corvette C7.R around the 3.74 mile track. A punctured tire in the opening lap of the race forced the trio to fall back to the rear of the pack. Electrical and steering problems during the first half of the race kept the car behind the walls in the team’s paddock. Once the car returned to the track, the team did everything they could to fight their way back. Despite a valiant effort, the team only managed a disappointing eighth place finish in class.
“This is Sebring for you,” Magnussen said during his strife-riddled 12-hour race. “When things are great around here, man they are so great. But when they are like they are today, boy is it a long day. Our guys worked hard so we could go back out. We drove to the end to take whatever we can take. It is just about salvaging one or two more points if we can. It’s not what we came here for, but it is what we have.”
Last Saturday’s race marked Corvette Racing’s 20th appearance at the Sebring 12 Hours race event. It also marked the Corvette Racing program’s 200th race event since the inception of the team.
Prior to the race’s start, the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvette Racing teams help third and fourth place respectively in the Drivers’ Standings. If the team is to maintain its GTLM title from 2017, they’ll have to score well at the upcoming rounds at Long Beach (in April) and at Mid-Ohio (in May.). Still, considering the modest amount of points IMSA awards its WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams each round, digging out from the points deficit created by their performance at Sebring will take some time.
Corvette Racing’s next event will be the Bubba Burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on Saturday, April 14, 2018.