Danish ace Magnussen teamed with Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe to win the GTLM class here in 2015 and followed that last year by combing with Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller to finish an agonizingly close second to their Corvette Racing teammates by a matter of inches last year.
The Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller combination returns for this year’s race ready for a tough battle ahead in the GTLM class features tougher and tougher competition every year.
After some early season misfortune last year, Magnussen and Garcia combined to dominate the GTLM class at Virginia International Raceway last year – winning the pole and taking a dominant victory.
The second half of their season was impressive, recording four podiums from six races en route to finishing third in the championship and were the highest points scoring duo in the final three races of the season.
Magnussen is ready to kick off his 14th consecutive season with Corvette Racing and his sixth with his Spanish teammate, Garcia.
The Rolex 24 was the site of Corvette Racing’s debut on Jan. 31, 1999. Since that first race, the team has competed in more than 170 events around the globe with 102 victories worldwide – including five wins in 2016 – along with 11 Manufacturer and Team championships in the American Le Mans Series and WeatherTech Championship to go along with eight victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Q: Were you happy with how qualifying went today?
A: “It’s been a little tougher than everyone expected coming back here for the race weekend. I think everyone left the Roar pretty happy with how the Corvette was handling and how we were stacking up against everyone else.
“But today for sure, we’ve been struggling a little bit. Qualifying I think is a good indication of where we are right now. It will be a tough race ahead of us.”
Q: How important is qualifying for a race like this?
A: “In the grand scheme of things, really not that important at all. 24 hour races are all about how you execute everything. It is very much a team sport where everyone plays a key role – the drivers, the crew or even our support staff who make sure we stay hydrated and rested when we are not in the car.
“If any of those people make a mistake, it can ruin your race.
“Last year was a great example where Corvette Racing didn’t especially have the fastest car – our entire team just did everything right in the race.
“You also have to have some luck on your side. One little issue can ruin your day.”
Q: How do you think the new starting procedure will affect the race?
A: “From this year we’re all racing together again. In the first couple of years of the IMSA series the prototypes started first, then we came around to get our green flag shortly after.
“It will certainly make the start a little more hectic and hopefully nobody does anything silly.
“Nobody wants to see anybody’s race come unstuck that early. Sometimes you can use that mass start to your advantage, finding a hole where you can actually get through on a couple PC class cars.
“It is certainly going to be a great spectacle.”
Q: How big a challenge will the 24 hour be this year?
A: “Antonio, Mike Rockenfeller and I ended up second last year after an amazing battle at the end with our Corvette Racing teammates.
“Obviously we won here in 2015 and it would have been awesome to go back-to-back.
“Lets see if we can do it again this year. The level of competition just gets tougher and tougher every year.
“We know how strong the Ford guys are and they are loaded up with four entries so that’s going to be tough.
“The new Porsche will be fast too but at Corvette Racing we never ever rest on our laurels. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve and the car and improve the way we do things.”
Q: How pleased are you to have Mike Rockenfeller back in the No.3 this year?
A: “Mike did an awesome job for us last year and really fitted in really quickly. He has a lot of sportscar experience in endurance races so it really didn’t take long at all for it to really feel like he was totally embedded in the team.
“When he gets in the car he goes fast, but also protects the car and brings it back without a scratch. This will be our fourth race together so we’re really a strong combination now.
“It’s always interesting as well to bring in somebody with different experiences from different cars. You never stop learning and brainstorming as to how to make the car better.”
Source. Paul Ryan Media