Over the past eighteen years, Corvette racing has established itself as a world contender in auto sports racing, taking multiple team, driver and manufacturer wins during that time. As the 2017 IMSA GT Le Mans season comes to a close, the No. 3 Corvette C7.R racing team adds another championship-winning season to its already incredible list of accolades.
Driver’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia secured the GT Le Mans (GTLM) Driver title in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after completing the open stages of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta. By starting the final race of the season at Road Atlanta also meant that the No. 3 Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R squad had also earned the GTLM Team Championship.
“Big thanks to Team Chevy, the whole Corvette Racing team and the whole Corvette community. I think other than maybe Long Beach, this was a perfect season, so thank you all!” Antonio Garcia, Driver of the No. 3 Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Magnussen and Garcia had already claimed three class victories during the 2017 season prior to entering the Petit Le Mans race on October 7, 2017. Previously, the pair had won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as well as the GTLM rounds at the Circuit of the Americans and at Virginia International Raceway. The team also had a podium finish at Watkins Glen, where they finished in third place.
“This championship was absolutely a team effort. The drivers, crew members and engineers were versatile and adaptable, and everybody on the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team contributed throughout the season. Jan and Antonio were consistent, smart behind the wheel and took advantage of Mike Rockenfeller opportunities when it mattered most. This was a hard-earned championship.” Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.
This championship win at Road Atlanta represents the second championship for the driving team of Magnussen and Garcia. The duo had won their first in the 2013 American Le Mans Series GT Class. Magnussen also won the ALMS GT1 Driver’s Championship in 2008 while driving with Corvette Racing (prior to Garcia joining the team.)
Since Corvette Racing’ inception in 1999, the team has now earned a total of 11 Driver titles and 12 Team Championships in North American professional sports car racing, with their first championship dating back to 2001. This 2017 Championship also marks the second consecutive year that Corvette Racing has earned this distinction as Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, drivers of the No. 4 Corvette C7.R were the 2016 champions of this same series.
As for both teams performances at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia were joined by Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 3 C7.R Corvette and drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner were joined by Marcel Fässler for the 10 hour event. The pair of Corvettes qualified third and sixth place respectively as the teams prepared for the start of the race.
Throughout the day, a total of six different cars led in GTLM over the 392 laps (just short of 1,000 miles) run. The No. 3 Corvette led the race four tires, due in part to the excellent pit work and race strategy. A late pit stop for fuel and tires was pivotal to the team’s success. Garcia brought the No. 3 into the pits running in third place, but gain a position due to the quick stop, leaving the pits in second place. This decisive pitstop solidified Chevrolet’s hold on the Manufacturers Championship with just 50 minutes left in the race.
Despite a valiant effort by the entire team, the No. 3 Corvette could not outrun the winning BMW, and ended up finishing the race in second place just one second behind the leader.
“(It was) a fantastic day and a fantastic race. The whole category has been so close all day long. It was difficult to really make a difference out there… to pass people. You kind of had to wait for mistakes, but nobody made mistakes. Traffic could sort of play into it, so it was kind of waiting for the right place and the right time to take advantage. We had great strategy. Beating the 67 Ford out on that last stop was very important. That Ford got taken out by a prototype later on, but it was important for us to get out ahead if for nothing else than to prove a point.” Jan Magnussen, Driver of the No. 3 Mobil 1/Sirius XM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Milner, on the other hand, driving the No. 4 Corvette in the final leg of the race, managed a fourth place finish in GTLM. While one spot shy of a podium finish, the team managed to maintain good position throughout the race, which was especially tricky given the wet conditions on the track at the start of the race. As with the No. 3 team, the No. 4 attributed much of its success to creative driving stragegy and more stellar pit work.
“Congrats to Corvette Racing. It’s amazing what they achieved this year, especially Antonio and Jan; they had a fantastic year to win the Driver Championship. The Manufacturer Championship was secured for Chevrolet so I think we fulfilled almost everything this weekend. We wanted to win as well, but the BMW was too strong. Congrats to them. It’s been a good year with Corvette Racing. The three races I did were really strong. The win at Sebring was really strong and very competitive. At Daytona we were strong, just not quite enough to win. And here at Petit Le Mans we were in the hunt for the victory. So I am I am very happy, and I hope I can be back with the team. I did my best to help as much as I can. It’s not always easy to jump in as the third driver without so much seat time, but my teammates help me a lot. It is just great to be part of Corvette Racing and I’m looking forward to the future.” Mike Rockenfeller, Driver (for endurance races) of the No. 3 Mobil 1 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opens with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28, 2018.