As the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship draws to a close this weekend, Corvette Racing finds itself in a familiar spot: fighting for another title at Road Atlanta. Saturday’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans is the final race on the IMSA calendar with championships in each of the three classes up for grabs at the series’ cornerstone event.
That includes GT Le Mans (GTLM), where Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen look to successfully defend their Driver Championship from a year ago. The pairing, who share the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, lead the Driver standings by nine points and need to finish fourth or better to clinch their third title together.
It would give Corvette Racing three consecutive Driver and Team championships, as well as increase the total to 13 Team titles and 12 Driver titles for the program in its 20-year history.
Garcia and Magnussen will have some help at Road Atlanta as Marcel Fässler will be entered in both Corvette Racing entries. The physical nature of the event around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit an hour north of Atlanta can take a heavy toll, so long-distance drivers for Petit Le Mans are common.
Fässler also stands to see time in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R alongside full-season teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. The latter pairing has Corvette Racing’s lone victory this season, which came at Long Beach. The No. 4 Corvette duo stands fifth in points and is only six points out of third place.
Corvette Racing hasn’t missed a Petit Le Mans since the program began in 1999. It has eight class victories – the most of any team in race history – and two additional Road Atlanta wins that came in American Le Mans Series sprint events.
Not surprisingly, two Corvette Racing drivers rank among race leaders in victories and starts. Magnussen will make his 20th consecutive Petit Le Mans start, and he has won four times. Gavin is tied for most race victories with five, and he hasn’t missed a start since 2000.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “There’s always pressure when you go to Road Atlanta, especially when you are fighting for a championship. We were in a perfect scenario last season where we only needed to start to clinch. It won’t be like that this year. I really like this track and the event itself. It’s very challenging. Hopefully we have a good chance to win the championship by scoring a good result. Road Atlanta has always been a good track for Corvette Racing, but it’s one race that I still haven’t won! So I definitely want to fix that. Hopefully we can fix that this year and win the championship, as well.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Last year was an easy Petit Le Mans for us; we basically took the green flag and won the championship. This year for sure will be different. It’s a tough race because you race throughout the day and into the night. Road Atlanta is a very tough circuit; it’s bumpy, super fast and very old school. If you make a mistake, you’ll hit something! There’s a lot of traffic and some new drivers because so many teams use three drivers. The important thing is that we know what we need to. No one controls luck, but we do the best we can and run the plan that we set out to do, we will be in good shape.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Petit Le Mans is always an intense race. Road Atlanta itself is a tight track; it has a lot of elevation changes with a lot of speed. Each year it seems to get quicker and quicker. You know you’re going to get a big grid, so traffic will be an issue. Add on to that that championships are be decided, and those altogether really crank up the intensity you feel. It’s fun but there’s still a bit of a battle. Winning that event is a really big feather in your cap and carries good momentum into next year.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Petit Le Mans is definitely a highlight. There is something extra about Petit Le Mans where you go into a championship weekend. People from around the world come to Road Atlanta and really embraced it as a really big event, which it is. In a lot of ways, it’s like Sebring where people line up early to get their camping spot. It’s a lot of people who enjoy great sports car racing at one of the best tracks we go to. It makes that event so special.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 3 and NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Petit Le Mans is something special and exciting for all of us. It has been growing from year to year. It has become a race that is growing toward being a legend. Maybe it’s not quite on the same level as Sebring, but it is getting close. It’s a big event for all of us, especially us in Europe, because you want to be part of a race like this. It’s exciting for us to come to the track and see the fans lined up and waiting to come in before the gates open. It’s always nice to see that kind of environment.
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “Another championship run for Corvette Racing comes down to Road Atlanta. Petit Le Mans has earned its stature as one of endurance racing’s prime events over the last 20 years. The track, the fans, the atmosphere and level of competition make it a can’t-miss race. Road Atlanta presents a number of challenges we don’t see many other places. The layout and elevation changes throughout the lap put a real importance on managing traffic. Add in a couple hours of running in the dark to the end of the race, and you have a true championship-caliber test. It’s one we’ve conquered eight times before and are eager to do again.”
Source. Corvette Racing