Twenty years after its competition debut at Daytona International Speedway, Corvette Racing will start Saturday’s Rolex 24 At Daytona from pole position in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. Jan Magnussen set the fastest time in qualifying Thursday in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R for the opening round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Magnussen set a class-record lap of 1:42.779 (124.688 mph) in the Corvette he will share with Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller. It is the first pole position for Magnussen at Daytona and comes as he and Garcia begin defense of their GTLM Championship from 2017.
Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R qualified sixth at 1:43.453 (123.876 mph) after providing a nice tow for Magnussen in the first half of Thursday’s qualifying. He is teaming with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler; the trio teamed to win the Rolex 24 in 2016.
Corvette Racing’s first event was the 1999 Rolex 24, and the team will go for its fourth Daytona class victory – and third in four years – Saturday and Sunday.
It’s time for Corvette Racing’s return to the biggest stage in North American sports car racing as it kicks off its 20th season of competition. The Rolex 24 At Daytona marks the first event of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and is a race that Corvette Racing will try to win for the third time in four years.
Since the 2014 Rolex 24 – the first race under the ALMS/GRAND-AM merger – no manufacturer or team has won more often in the WeatherTech Championship than Chevrolet and Corvette Racing. Team Chevy has 35 victories with 15 coming in GTLM with Corvette Racing.
The Rolex 24 served as the first event for the Corvette Racing program in 1999, and one of the team’s Corvette C5-Rs finished third in class. Two years later, Corvette Racing won the race overall. Fast forward to the current era, and the program added class victories in both 2015 and 2016. The latter was the thrilling 1-2 finish that saw the No. 4 Corvette beat its sister entry by just 0.034 seconds.
That is just one of more than 40 victories for Chevrolet across all motorsports events at Daytona, making it the most successful manufacturer at the World Center of Racing.
The 56th Rolex 24 At Daytona is the start of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and begins at 2:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 27. It will air on live on FOX from 2-5 p.m. ET on Saturday with additional coverage across FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Go and IMSA.com. Live audio coverage of practice, qualifying and the race from IMSA Radio is available on IMSA.com.
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – GTLM POLE WINNER: “To be honest, I’m a little bit surprised that we found that kind of speed for qualifying, but it was a good lap paired with a massive tow from my teammate. Fantastic lap with fantastic help from Olly (Gavin). It helped me a lot. Being that close up front that for sure mattered. But the race is a different matter. This feels super great right now, but it comes down to that this really doesn’t matter at all. But it is to show everybody that the car is fast and we are on to something that worked.
“I am super pleased. I have to say I am a little bit surprised with the result. Nobody on the team thought we were going to be able to go for pole, but the lap came together fantastically. On top of that, I had a super big tow from Olly, and he didn’t mess with me. It came together and it’s a lot faster than we have been here at any time before. It is a good feeling for the team to have pole position. Today it means a lot, but after that it doesn’t mean anything. It is a long race, but it does pump the team up and give us a good feeling for the race. Usually when you have a fast car in qualifying, it translates to a fast car in the race. We will be racing in a lot of different conditions so it is a matter of figuring out the race pace and staying out of trouble so you are there for the end when possibility weather is going to roll in.
“It is special because it is pole position and it is special because it coincides with the 20th year. Being on pole is a fantastic feeling. But this is a long, long race. Starting up front can matter. These races have been won and lost by a very, very short margin so where you start does play into the end result in the way that you can do strategies and plan your race. It is a long race and anything can happen. But we have a perfect starting point and we will try to use it to our advantage.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED SIXTH IN GTLM: “We’ve done well today. To get Jan up there on pole is fantastic for the team, but we know this race is all about those last couple of hours on Sunday afternoon. Where you start isn’t completely irrelevant, but it has such a small influence in the outcome of the race. We didn’t really plan to tow one another around, but that’s the way it worked out. Jan really hit the sweet spot with the Michelin tire and got a really good tow from me. So it’s great for the team to have a Corvette on pole. For us on the 4 Corvette, we were missing a little bit on the infield but we know what we need to do. Once I got back up on Jan and he started to repay the favor, the tires were gone and so it was a bit of a scramble. I hustled it around to squeaked out a little better lap time. Starting sixth is fine. We’ve been thinking all week about what we need for the race. And I think we’ve steadily been zeroing in on that setup. We’re close… just a couple of tweaks.”
Source. Corvette Racing