Danish ace Jan Magnussen has his sights set on taking his first Road America victory as a combination with teammate Antonio Garcia when the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Elkhart Lake this weekend.
While Magnussen has class wins at the picturesque Wisconsin circuit with David Brabham (2003) and Johnny O’Connell (2008), Road America is one of the few IMSA championship circuits he hasn’t claimed victory with his Spanish teammate.
The duo first teamed up with Garcia in 2012 and are enjoying another strong year in their seventh season together.
However, despite both drivers rating Road America as one of their favourite circuits on the championship calendar, the duo are yet to claim a win here.
Their best result came in 2013 when they finished second en route to claiming the title in the final season of the American Le Mans Series.
Since the combined IMSA championship kicked off in 2014, Magnussen and Garcia have finished sixth, fourth, sixth and fourth in the first four years of the championship.
Both are fully aware that their first podium or even a victory will play a huge role in their championship chase. After finishing second at Lime Rock Park, the Danish/Spanish duo are currently one point off the championship lead – caught in the middle of a Ford sandwich. Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand lead the points with Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe only a point behind Magnussen and Garcia in third place.
The duo has actually scored the runner-up position in the past three races in a row.
On track action kicks off at Road America on Friday at 11:15 am with qualifying scheduled for 1:00 pm on Saturday. Sunday’s two hour, 40-minute race goes green at 1:35 pm (all US Central time).
Jan Magnussen Q&A
Q: Why is Road America such a great circuit to drive?
A: “This place is so rewarding to drive. It has the perfect combination of corners – there is a little bit of everything – long straights, fast corners, medium corners and some slow corners.
“There are some great passing and drafting opportunities and when you get the lap right – it’s such a great feeling.
“You have to work very hard to get the car right because through the Carousel and the Kink there are huge chunks of time you can gain.
“If the car isn’t right through there – subsequently there are massive chunks of time you can lose.
“It is a lot like major European circuits like Spa, but there are also consequences if you make a mistake. A lot of tracks in Europe if you run off you can just back onto the track, but here if you make a mistake you are on the grass and in trouble.”
Q: You’ve had so much success in recent years, but success has been hard to find at Road America – why is that?
A: “It is a bit of a strange one. We’ve been really strong here in the past, and the No. 4 Corvette With Olivier (Gavin) and Tommy (Milner) won here two years ago.
“Luck just hasn’t been on our side. I also got turned around at the last corner a few seasons ago which also cost us a few positions.
“It certainly has us motivated to give it our best shot this weekend. A good result here will be significant for the championship.
“We know we’ve been strong at VIR and Laguna Seca in the past, but past results count for nothing – the level of competition moves on so quickly so you can’t rest on your laurels.”
Q: How rewarding was your first GT win here back in 2003?
A: “I didn’t know it at the time, but that win with Brabs in the Ferrari opened the door for me to have an incredible career at Corvette Racing.
“I made a late race pass on Johnny O’Connell to take the win. Johnny and I had won races together at Panoz, and we went on to win more for Corvette.
“I think Doug Fehan was so mad I cost Corvette the win back in 2003, he thought he better hire me for the following year.
“I had no idea that that day would lead to a 15-year stint for me here. Corvette Racing is like family for me now – I couldn’t envisage racing anywhere else.”
Q: With only four races to go, how big a fight will this championship be?
A: “Every race, every lap, every corner will play a role in the title this year. It is going to be so tight. The drivers have to be at the top of our games, our pre-race preparation has to be spot on, and the guys over the wall on the crew have to execute every single stop perfectly.
“One little mistake by a driver, an engineer, a crew member – that could make all the difference this year.
“It’s a lot of pressure, but we love the fight and Antonio and me, plus the whole Corvette Racing team are super keen to defend our title.”
Source. Paul Ryan Media