Corvette Racing Caps Off Hat Trick of IMSA Wins At COTA

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Corvette Racing brings proper American V8 speed to Texas. 

This weekend we were in Texas, at the Circuit of The Americas, for a good, old-fashioned, come-from-behind GTLM class victory for Corvette Racing. One Corvette was basically out at the first corner, along with half of the competitors in the class, and the other jumped up to the front to take the victory. This was the team’s third IMSA victory in three races, having previously marked wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the street fight at Long Beach a few weeks ago. This was the second win of the season for Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the #3 car, as well as their second victory at COTA.

At the first corner of the race, there was a massive kerfuffle that saw one of the Ford GTs pushing one of the Ferrari 488 GTEs into a spin that saw them stopped broadside in the middle of the track. This, in turn, collected the #4 car of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, which was then hit from behind. The crew did work to get the car back on course by replacing a number of suspension and braking components, as well as front and rear bodywork. The car did make it back into the race, though did make several return trips to the garages, and ultimately finished 7th in class.

Jan Magnussen, who started the #3 car, managed to avoid any damage in the turn one shunt, and moved up from his 6th place qualifying position into fourth. For the remainder of Magnussen’s stint fourth was where he stayed. The race turned around in their favor when a Lamborghini stopped on course, calling out a full-course yellow. With excellent strategy call (Kyle Millay) on the Corvette pit wall, Jan pitted and swapped out for Antonio at the 51 minute mark. They managed to get the #3 into the pit lane before the yellow flag flew, netting them a huge advantage when everyone else pitted after the yellow a few laps later.

Garcia maintained the lead from that yellow flag period until the end of the race. With the final segment of the race looming, he was leading by nearly a half minute gap. Then another caution came out with just a few minutes remaining, which bunched the remaining GTLM field up right on Garcia’s bumper. With a great re-start, only minutes to go from the end, Antonio managed to keep them behind him, eventually winning by about two and a half seconds at the checkered flag.

This was Corvette Racing’s 105th all-time victory, and moves them into the lead of the GTLM teams and manufacturers championships.

You can watch the full race here on IMSA’s YouTube channel.

Quotes from the team after the race:

Antonio Garcia, Driver, #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R –

“I think it is the perfect way to come back after what happened at Long Beach. We have had four races this year with zero mistakes by Corvette Racing in any of them. That is what it takes to be there if you have the pace to win. If you don’t have the pace, you finish fourth – like what happened at Daytona. Then we took the win at Sebring; that one was a bit unexpected but we really worked for that.

“On pure pace we didn’t have the best car. But it is not the first time we have won here not being the fastest. It was a perfect call to pit just before the second yellow. That gave us track position. It feels like we put a lot of pressure on our competitors and they started to make mistakes. I’m very happy with that if that is what it takes. From then I just tried to maintain the gap to second place. We were all just counting down minutes and laps, and seeing how much slower I could go. I didn’t care so much about the other car catching me because I don’t mind winning by three seconds or 20 seconds. I knew that if there was a late yellow, which we had, I needed to have better tires.

“I don’t know if I saved enough tires to be faster than (Alexander Sims), but in a way that was enough. I am very glad and very happy for Corvette Racing. It is a shame the No. 4 car had that contact at Turn One. That was very unfortunate. But again, it is three wins in a row for Corvette Racing. I think no one expected that, but that is what it takes for those results: Zero mistakes.”

Jan Magnussen, Driver, #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R –

“This is a nice way to move on from what happened at Long Beach. But it was a crazy race. So much stuff happened all the way through from Turn One when a few cars got taken out and got in trouble. I got a good start and got clear of all of that. My first stint I was trying to pay good attention to the tires and give good feedback to the team to the changes that needed to be made for Antonio. When he got in, the team made a fantastic call on that pit stop to beat everybody out… again! Then a few cars got in trouble and got some penalties that gave Antonio a massive lead which he was kind of nurturing. I don’t think he was pushing too hard, just making sure not to make any mistakes. It is a fantastic result for the team. This is a really, really nice way to head to Le Mans.”

Oliver Gavin, Driver, #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R –

“Our race was ultimately shaped by what happened at Turn One on Lap One. Some over-optimistic driving by some of our competitors resulted in Tommy having nowhere to go at the first corner. We basically spent the rest of the race getting our Corvette right so we could go out and complete the race. That’s the never-give-up attitude within Corvette Racing. The car felt OK at points but we were burning through the tires really quickly. When the car is as damaged as it was at the right-front and left-rear, you have to change out so many parts to get it back out. The crew at Corvette Racing did a great job and worked as fast as they could to get us back out. It was a rough day for us but congratulations to the sister car, Antonio and Jan. They ran a clean, smart race, and that’s what you need to do.”

Tommy Milner, Driver, #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R –

“It looked like one of the Fords and the Ferrari were a little off line at the exit of (Turn) One. There must have been some contact or something like that got the Ferrari coming back across the track. It looked like racing a little bit too hard at the start. We were just unlucky and got the right front into the Ferrari and then we got it from behind from someone unsuspecting as well. It’s not the way we wanted to start our race, but the guys did a great job working to get Oliver and I back out so we could get as many points as possible.”

Doug Fehan, Program Manager, Corvette Racing –

“When you’re good, you’re good. When you’re good and you’re lucky, you can be unbeatable. We had a great Corvette today, a great team effort and good fortune – all that allowed us to bring home a victory in the No. 3 C7.R. I don’t think there were many people on the grid that gave us much of a chance. Inside Corvette Racing, however, everybody believes. And today everybody executed. It’s unfortunate we lost one of the Corvettes on the first lap, we’ve been there before. Our experience came in today. Flawless execution is going to get you to the finish line. Once again Corvette Racing got there first.”

All photos copyright 2017 Bradley C. Brownell / Corvette Forum 

Bradley Brownell is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

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