The Danish ace will equal the record held by former Corvette Racing teammate Johnny O’Connell. Magnussen made his debut here in 1999 for Panoz Motorsport driving with O’Connell and fellow Dane, John Nielsen.
Over those 19 race starts, Magnussen has scored five Sebring victories, including last year with Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller. He will again line up with the same co-drivers this year for Corvette Racing.
Magnussen, Garcia and Rockenfeller enter Sebring fresh from a podium finish at the opening round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Rolex 24 at Daytona – the trio finishing third.
Magnussen and Garcia (with Ryan Briscoe) also won here at Sebring in 2015 and took the lead again in 2016 before suffering contact with a Porsche and spinning into the turn one tire barrier.
The reigning GTLM class champions will have one final practice this morning at 8:00am with qualifying scheduled for 12:55pm. Saturday’s 12-hour endurance classic goes green tomorrow at 10:40am.
Jan Magnussen Q&A
Q: You equal the record of your old teammate Johnny O’Connell for the most consecutive Sebring starts this year. Did you ever think that would be possible when you first arrived here in 1999?
A: “Well, I wasn’t thinking about it, I’ve never thought about it. It’s cool. But it doesn’t change anything; it doesn’t change my approach. It does add some pressure though, because after 20 attempts, I should be done making mistakes.”
Q: Can you remember your first impressions of Sebring?
A: “It was definitely an eye-opener. My first race was in ‘99, coming from Formula 1, and just the bumpiness of the track and the traffic, the whole thing was pretty crazy. It was also my first proper endurance race.”
Q: As a first endurance race, it must have taken a little while to get used to?
A: “For sure, it’s a track where you have to have a lot of confidence in your car. It took a little while to get confident in the Panoz GT1 car. It was hot, it was loud and uncomfortable and not really good over the bumps, but it was a fantastic experience.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make it very far in the race because John Nielsen had a tire failure and hit the wall in 14 so we were out quite early. It wasn’t until the next year that I actually got to race there at night.”
Q: What is the difference between racing at Sebring at night as opposed to Daytona?
A: “At Sebring, it gets proper dark, there’s not a lot of lights. In many places, the only lights are the lights you’re carrying on the car.
“Hopefully, we have that sorted out. We have a little bit better lights this year than in the past. I’ve been here a lot of times, so I know my way around, but the track changes so much, it can take some getting used to.”
Q: You started the year with a podium at Daytona. How much work has Corvette Racing done to try to further improve the car?
A: “I think they were pretty happy with the result of the recent test. It’s the same car that we raced last year, so all that we’re doing is just fine tuning setups and learning the new tires.
“But I think we’re in a pretty good position. The track is very different from Daytona, but the last three years we’ve had a lot of success, and hopefully, we can carry on just like we did last year.”
Q: What’s the best thing about the fans at Sebring?
A: “Sebring is a special place, a unique place. The fan culture here, with the camps in Green Park, is pretty amazing. We have a lot of support from Corvette fans, and there’s a big Corvette corral supporting us the whole time.
“It gives us a good feeling and motivation to do your best to put on a good show and to hopefully bring a victory home for all of the Corvette fans.
“It’s really special coming to Sebring every year and seeing all the spectators here and the party they put on in the infield. It’s pretty fantastic.”
Q: Looking at Kevin’s preseason, what are your thoughts leading into next week’s first F1 race in Australia?
A: “We’re all really excited to see it all get going in Melbourne. The preseason went really well. Obviously, they had some new car problems on the first test, but it looked like, from the outside at least, that they sorted all that out.
“The car has good speed and the drivers like the feel of the car. Lap times have gotten better, and they are competitive.
“It looks like they moved up a little bit from last year in that midfield battle. I think Kevin’s pretty pumped! I know I am!”
Source. Paul Ryan Media