An aggressive race strategy paid off for Corvette Racing on Sunday as Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen landed on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class podium in the Monterey SportsCar Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R placed third in the next-to-last round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as both yellow Corvettes rebounded from disappointing qualifying efforts Saturday. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, driving the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette, placed fourth as each pairing gained four positions from the first lap of the race to the finish.
Sunday’s results inched Garcia and Magnussen closer in the GTLM Drivers standings. Championship winners the last two years, they are third in points – 15 from the leaders and three from second place – with one race left in the season.
Starting from sixth and seventh on the grid – and running seventh and eighth after a jumbled start from the field – Corvette Racing engineers elected early to go with a three-stop strategy to maximize tire performance at the expense of an extra stop to most of the other GTLM runners. The aggressive strategy also allowed Milner to set the fastest GTLM lap of the race.
Magnussen brought in the No. 3 Corvette in for its first stop 32 minutes into the race and handed off to Garcia, with Gavin swapping the No. 4 C7.R with Tommy Milner a lap later.
Garcia and Magnussen went the rest of the distance on two more stops each – both for tires and fuel. Each time they stopped, the two Corvettes ran first and second, with Garcia making his final stop with 42 minutes left and Milner with 40 minutes to go. When the No. 4 Corvette rejoined, Milner ran fifth and Garcia just ahead in fourth.
It didn’t take long for Garcia and Milner to chase down the third-place BMW of Connor De Phillippi. Garcia, constantly hounding the No. 25 entry for a number of laps, got around and onto the podium with 12 minutes left in the race. Milner followed his teammate through into fourth but traffic eventually halted their pursuit of the second-place car.
Corvette Racing closes the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the 10-hour Petit Le Mans from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 12.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – THIRD IN GTLM: “That was all we had today. It’s never easy to do an extra but all things considered we did the perfect strategy. There were no mistakes on the pit stops. We were quick in the pits and quick in the car. I think I just lost too much time passing the 25 to make second place. Maybe if we had gotten a yellow after our last stop, it would have been interesting; we had 10-15 laps less than them on tires. That was our gamble and it paid out coming from seventh on our first stop. It would have been better to win, but for sure today was a great result.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – THIRD IN GTLM: “We got the most of our three-stop strategy. In practice, we learned that the degradation for us was quite high. It was a bit better in the race than I had feared; maybe we could have gotten away with two stops. But we stuck to our plan and ran our race. We got a podium out of it, which was a lot better than qualifying. I’m as happy as I can be for a third-place finish.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FOURTH IN GTLM: “The start was a little crazy. I came through the Corkscrew and down into (Turn) nine, and all I could see was cars strung out in front of me; we should have been looking like we are going to for the start. By the time I got to the entry of the final corner, I was just on (Ryan) Briscoe and I just sort of braked to not run into the back of him and then everybody went! (Nick) Tandy came around the outside of me with speed and momentum and just drove right by me. So I was last in our class going over the start/finish line. I was just trying not to get involved in any crazy incidents and trying to save my tires. I just ran with Jan and we got hosed a bit in traffic. The car was pretty good. I was relatively happy with the balance. It was maybe a little bit loose at times, but I just saved the tires. Jan pitted one lap before and I wanted to push on and do a good in-lap but I just got smashed into traffic. That kind of set us off with the No. 3 car. Tommy did a great job of catching up. Our third and fourth is the result of fantastic strategy and execution by the guys. The engineers on the stand did a fantastic job of doing that for us. Once again no cautions, and that was frustrating because a caution would have really helped us. But that is how the racing is these days in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship. On to Petit Le Mans to finish the season and hoping for a strong run and go for the win.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FOURTH IN GTLM: “All things considered, this was a really good day. It was a great strategy from Chuck (Houghton, No. 4 Corvette engineer) and the guys on the pit stand, and we made a really good chassis adjustment which really allowed the Corvette to come alive and allowed me to be in the hunt to have some fun with Antonio and the 25 car. Finishing fourth doesn’t have anything near the feeling of a win, but it was a win for making really good calls – great pit stops, great strategies and the drive from Olly at the start. Everyone did their job. Having these kinds of races is a testament to the hard work from this team and not giving up. I’m really proud of everyone’s effort today.”
Source. Corvette Racing