Twenty years ago, a new program came on the sports car racing scene in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. A solid – and trying – result laid the groundwork for Corvette Racing to contest and win races around the world. Fast forward to today… Corvette Racing is back at Daytona International Speedway with its pair of Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs in hopes of adding another chapter to its history of sports car excellence.
The program will start its third decade in search of its 13th Driver and Manufacturer title in 21 years of racing in IMSA, along with a fourth victory at the Rolex 24. Such accomplishments would continue to Corvette Racing as the most successful program in the history of IMSA, which is celebrating its 50th season in 2019.
Since Corvette Racing’s competition debut at Daytona on Jan. 30, 1999, the program has claimed 107 victories around the world with 99 coming in IMSA competition. Victory at Daytona would make the team the first in IMSA history to win 100 races.
Six familiar faces will drive the pair of Corvettes at Daytona. Defending GT Le Mans (GTLM) champions Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, who teamed to win the Rolex 24 in 2015, are sharing the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette with Mike Rockenfeller for the fourth consecutive season. Magnussen was the fastest driver in GTLM during the three-day Roar Before the 24 earlier this month as the team used a drafting strategy to lead the class.
In the No. 4 Corvette, 2016 GTLM winners Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler are back together again, a year after Gavin and Milner won for Corvette Racing at Long Beach. The trio ended the 2018 season with a runner-up finish at the 10-hour Petit Le Mans and no doubt want to carry that momentum over to the start of 2019.
It’s off to a good start so far for both Corvette Racing entries. The two Corvette C7.Rs logged more than 1,200 miles during the three-day Roar to establish a baseline setup for Thursday’s practice and qualifying sessions. The hope is that the data gained at the track and at Chevrolet’s racing simulator will lead to another Rolex 24 victory. It would add to Chevrolet’s impressive total of more than 40 victories across all motorsports events at Daytona, making it the most successful manufacturer at the World Center of Racing.
Opportunities Abound for Chevrolet Fans at Daytona
Chevrolet aficionados will have no shortage of things to see and do at the Rolex 24. That’s because three locations around Daytona International Speedway – the Chevrolet Experience Center, the Chevrolet Injector and Chevrolet Motorsports Display – will be full of Chevrolet vehicles that spectators can learn more about throughout the weekend.
Each location will open at 9 a.m., Friday and Saturday; and 8 a.m., Sunday.
Among the highlights at the Chevrolet Motorsports Display is the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, a supercar that establishes a new standard at Chevrolet for power output, track performance and technology. Numerous other Chevrolet vehicles will be on-site including:
- Production vehicles such as the All-New Silverado and Blazer, Corvette Grand Sport, Colorado ZR2, Camaro ZL1, Traverse Redline, Trax, Impala, Tahoe, Equinox, and Malibu
- A Corvette C7.R show car
- Samples of Chevrolet engines, performance parts and accessories available to fans for purchase from their local Chevrolet dealer
- A variety of Chevrolet and racing related activities for adults and kids
- Corvette Racing t-shirts for fans who sign up with Chevrolet Motorsports
Also located inside the track and next to Victory Lane, the Chevrolet Experience Center will have a number of additional Chevrolet production vehicles and product specialists throughout the Rolex 24 weekend. Fans can walk through the Experience Center and see models such as four special edition Corvette Grand Sport coupes, Corvette Z06, Camaro ZL1 and Silverado.
At the Chevrolet Injector, nearly 30 different Chevrolet vehicles – including the new Blazer, Corvette Z06, Camaro ZL1 1LE and a number of Silverado, Traverse and Colorado editions – will be on display throughout the four levels of fan access. As at the Chevrolet Motorsports Display and Chevrolet Experience, Chevrolet product specialists will be on-hand to answer questions on each model of Chevrolet vehicle throughout the weekend.
The 57thRolex 24 At Daytona is the start of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season and begins at 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 26. It will air on live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app starting at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. NBCSN also will air qualifying live at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, January 24. Live audio coverage of practice, qualifying and the race from IMSA Radio is available on IMSA.com.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The competition gets harder and harder every year. Even though we have won the GTLM championship the last three years as a team, our competitors are improving and getting hungry to beat us. That’s the main thing – keep doing what we do and be successful again. We showed good strategy at the Roar so I feel like we are very prepared. We’ll see.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The biggest challenge for GTLM will be the added traffic that the Michelin tire will provide. The entire field is on Michelins now – Prototype and GTD. That will make it much more difficult for us to do our own race. Passing and overtaking will be much more difficult so we all have to be careful. Last year we did everything we were supposed to do and ran a perfect race with no mistakes but still only finished third. We’ll try again this year and hope for a better outcome.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The Roar was a great chance to get seat time again in the Corvette. You always want more time but I feel like I am as well prepared as possible going into the race, and so is the team. So much of this race is determined by mistakes and trying to do too much. The good thing about everyone at Corvette Racing is that we know how much risk we can take without being too ambitious on the track. That’s the sign of experience.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The Rolex 24 is going to be exceptionally tough and difficult. It always is, but that’s what makes winning here so satisfying. You have to be smart, you have to execute and you can’t make mistakes. If you can do that, you have a great chance of being in Victory Lane. Tommy, Marcel and I have been fortunate enough to do just that in 2016 in what is my most memorable IMSA race. We absolutely have the pieces in place to do that again.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The Rolex 24 is always a big challenge for us. It’s the first race of the year, so that means new people, new parts and pieces on the car and some unknowns on our part in terms of our competitiveness. You come in with a new sense of energy from starting fresh again. It can be a challenge to temper that excitement within you to remember this is a 24-hour race, and you have to be there at the end to win it. There are so many people watching and there’s a lot going on throughout the week. But during that time you’re always thinking about getting to the checkered flag and hopefully getting that Rolex watch at the end of Sunday.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “There are many challenges within the Rolex 24 but I always believe the race is the biggest one in the IMSA championship. Daytona is such a unique race with the road course and oval. It’s dark for a very long time. The weather can be quite unpredictable, and you never know where you really stand until after the race begins. Those things are for sure what sets Daytona apart from any other race I do during the year in America. But I can’t think of another team better prepared than Corvette Racing, which we have seen now for many years. We are ready for this challenge.
Source. Corvette Racing/Photo. Richard Prince
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