Corvette Racing Wins Second Straight IMSA Driver Title
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM Driver win is 12th Driver Championship for Corvette Racing in program’s 20-year history.
Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen won their second straight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) Driver title last Saturday, and in true Corvette Racing fashion it was a team effort.
Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler placed second in class at Road Atlanta’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans in the No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to close Corvette Racing’s 20th season of competition in IMSA. Garcia, Magnussen and Fässler co-drove the No. 3 Corvette to an eighth-place finish – a result good enough to secure the GTLM Driver and Team championships.
It is the 12th Driver Championship for Corvette Racing and 13th Team title in the program’s 20-year history.
“Congratulations to Antonio, Jan and the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team on clinching the GTLM Driver Championship. This team never gave up all season to deliver our 12th Driver title for Corvette Racing over 20 seasons of competition,” said Mark Reuss, GM Executive Vice President and President Global Product Group and Cadillac. “And congratulations to Corvette Racing and Pratt & Miller on their 13th Team Championship. They prepared a race car that delivered consistent performance and that great combination of power, durability and efficiency.”
Both Corvettes showed race-winning pace throughout the day and into the night as both cars led multiple times in the 10 hours. But pitwork ultimately proved to play a huge role.
The No. 4 pit crew got Milner out ahead of the No. 3 Corvette’s lone remaining championship contender on his final pit stop with 48 minutes to go. That was only half the story, however.
The No. 3 Corvette crew needed just five-and-a-half minutes to repair its C7.R after a crash with Garcia at the wheel following a pit stop with less than three hours to go. Among other items, the crew replaced the Corvette’s nose, front fender and engine floor in lightning quick speed to keep the No. 3 C7.R in the race and in the championship hunt.
‘It’s been another amazing performance by Corvette Racing. …The strategy, the way the guys worked together was just amazing.’
At that point, the focus turned to the No. 4 Corvette. Gavin, Milner and Fässler – who drove both Corvette entries in the race – fought and clawed their way to a position where Milner could pressure the sister car’s championship challenger late. The team’s effort proved even more important as the No. 4 Corvette went from fifth to third in the final GTLM Driver and Team standings.
Although Corvette Racing’s IMSA season is complete, there is one more race left in 2018. Corvette Racing will contest the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Six Hours of Shanghai on Nov. 16-18.
“It was definitely a tough race,’ said Garcia. “From Lap 1, I went in the lead and every time I was in the car I was going for it instead of holding position. It probably went from one of my best races of my career to the most embarrassing moment of my career. But that means Team Chevy and Corvette Racing did all the prep work before this race and allowed us to come back from that. Thank you to the 4 car for keeping the pressure up on the 67 car, which had to go for the win for the (championship) result. That’s part of this championship–the 4 car keeping the pressure up at the end. I’m very happy,” he adds. “It will take me a little bit to forget that mistake, but I’m very happy for the whole team.”
“The way it turned out, the way the 4 car went in there and really put pressure on changed things around,” says Magnussen. “Fantastic. Such a massive team effort to make this happen. I’m so proud to be a part of this. We had a good car and were going to be right there in the mix and the pit exit stuff happened and put everything on its head. It looked like we were out of it, trying to figure out how to still make it happen. I think what really did it was the 4 car got sent super aggressively and changed the balance of things. Obviously the 4 car went for the win but they knew why they were doing it. It turned things in our favor.”
“It’s been another amazing performance by Corvette Racing,” says Gavin. “You look at all the stints by Tommy (Milner), Marcel (Fässler) or myself and the same on the 3 car, it was just exceptional. The strategy, the way the guys worked together was just amazing. Then Antonio (Garcia) had his problem and I’ve never seen the guys work so well together to get the 3 car back out there in a short amount of time. It was just exceptional. Everybody had such great team spirit, team harmony and everybody was pulling for that championship. Us getting third in the championship was quite a result for Tommy and myself, so I’m very happy with today.”
“We can be super proud of our effort today,’ adds Milner. “The car was really good all race long. Pit stops, strategy, Olly and Marcel did great jobs in the car. What it came down to today was I think we had the car to win, we had the pace to win, but right toward the end I got stuck behind the Ford and I lost 8-10 seconds on the Porsche. A little unfortunate, but I wanted to be careful and not have any contact or interference with the Porsche on my part. In any case, everyone in the class did an awesome job. In the race we were fifth, then eighth, then sixth, and all over the place. Really impressive driving by everyone. I really wanted to win today but we can be happy with second place, and third in the championship was a bit of a stretch for us coming in. Good race today from all the guys on the 4 car to give us super pit stops and strategy.”
“My last podium finish was here in 2016, so I’m really happy and proud of the team,” says Fässler. “My first stint in the 3 car was a little tough and then in the 4 car I had a pretty good stint in the beginning. I congratulate the 3 car for the championship. It was an awesome job today, and thanks to Corvette Racing for its trust in me to drive both cars. The crew made this podium happen because they had an awesome pit stop in the end that got the 4 car out ahead of the others. For me, it was a nice end-of-season race and making the podium made for a really good day. I will do this again for Corvette Racing any time again.”