IMSA GTLM championship points leader Jan Magnussen has his sights set on repeating the dominant performance from 12 months ago where he, Antonio Garcia and Corvette Racing triumphed at VIRginia International Raceway.
After finishing third in the opening practice, Magnussen and Garcia went fastest in the following two sessions and then Magnussen scored the pole position for the No. 3 Corvette.
Corvette Racing was 1-2 in the morning warm-up and then the Danish/Spanish combination completely dominated the race.
The No. 3 Corvette led 84 of the 90 laps – only dropping down the order during the pit stop cycles.
Garcia also held off a late race charge after a short safety car as they neared the checkered flag left him in a two-lap sprint for victory.
Another dominant performance, like that at VIR, would play a huge role in Magnussen and Garcia’s championship assault. The duo lead the championship by eight points – stretching their lead by two points over the four races since the Le Mans 24 hour break in June.
The No. 3 Corvette has two victories to its credit this year at Sebring and Circuit of The Americas – but also two heartbreak moments. They looked set to win at Long Beach before being caught out by a blocked track on the final corner of the final lap and victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was taken away by a late race puncture.
This weekend’s VIRginia International Raceway event will be the second race of the year where the GTLM cars fight for the overall victory without the prototypes.
Cars hit the track for the first time at 11:45am on Friday for the first of three practice sessions. Qualifying is at 12:45pm on Saturday with Sunday’s two hour, 40 minute race going green at 1:35pm.
Q: How rewarding was last year’s VIR weekend?
A: “That was a weekend where everything just clicked for the No. 3 team all weekend. We rolled off the truck fast and just kept getting faster.
“It was certainly nice to lead two of the sessions, earn the pole and then lead all but six laps of the race.
“The full course yellow at the end caused a bit of a fright but Antonio nailed the restart and brought home the win.
“Another result like that this year would certainly be very handy for the championship but we can’t take that for granted.
“Just because the car was great last year doesn’t mean we’ll be the same again. Everyone is raising the game and I wouldn’t be surprised if our pole time for last year would probably put us on the back row 12 months later.”
Q: What do you like about the VIR track?
A: “This place is old school – you make a mistake and you’re in the grass and losing a chunk of time.
“It has a little bit of everything. Fast, medium and slow corners and lots of elevation changes.
“Getting the esses right is also important because if you mess the first bit up you spend a bunch of time trying to correct that mistake and get back up to speed.
“Places like here and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park are a real thrill to drive. My kind of track.”
Q: How rewarding is it to race for the overall win?
A: “That is a nice bonus and we can spend more time focusing on our own race without worrying about the faster traffic.
“But at Corvette Racing we’re charging hard every week against BMW, Porsche, Ford and now Ferrari is back.
“So it really doesn’t matter a great deal.
“Sometimes you can actually use that prototype traffic to your advantage.”
Q: How tough has it been to try to extend your points gap?
A: “Very! We’ve had to fight, kick and scream for every last point. The way the points work, it is really hard to open a big gap.
“We haven’t had the outright pace compared to some of our rivals recently, but we’ve stayed in contention by not making mistakes and having the best pit crew in the business.
“If we manage to pull this off, a lot of the credit will have to go to those guys.
Q: Are you looking forward to Kevin’s race this weekend at Spa?
A: “Absolutely. This is the type of track that Kevin really loves and I know he is really looking forward to getting back in the car after the summer break.
“Last year he had a big crash at Raidillon after Eau Rouge where the headrest came flying out the car.
“That won’t worry him though – that fast stuff is his favorite type of corner.
“He has already scored more points than last year and is really enjoying his time at Haas F1.”
Source. Paul Ryan Media