CORVETTE RACING AT DAYTONA: Going For a Rolex Repeat
CORVETTE RACING AT DAYTONA: Going For a Rolex Repeat
•First race for 2016-spec Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
•Defending GTLM winners Garcia, Magnussen to team with Rockenfeller
•2015 pole-winner Gavin set to drive with Milner, Fässler
DETROIT (Jan. 25, 2016) – One year ago, Corvette Racing started its run to endurance racing’s Triple Crown with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Fast-forward to today, and the team again is preparing for what it hopes is another race into the record books.
The 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona marks the beginning of Corvette Racing’s 2016 sports car season with a pair of 2016-spec Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs. During the next 10 months, the team will race 12 times across three countries and two continents. The goals: win the biggest events in sports car racing including the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the ninth time and capture the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class championship of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
It all starts at Daytona International Speedway, where Corvette Racing is a two-time winner (2001 overall and 2015 in GTLM). A year ago, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen were part of the victorious trio in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. The winning Chevrolet-powered racecar completed 725 laps (it led 389 laps) for 2,581 miles and spent seven less minutes in the pits than the second-place finisher.
Garcia and Magnussen team this year with Mike Rockenfeller, who also is a former Rolex 24 race winner. In the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, Oliver Gavin – last year’s GTLM pole-winner – will partner with full-season teammate Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler, who will make his first Rolex 24 start. Gavin and Milner were part of the GTE Pro-winning trio in 2015 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; they also were third in class at the Rolex 24 last season.
All six drivers saw plenty of seat-time earlier this month during the three-day Roar Before the 24 test. Gavin was the second-fastest driver in GTLM with a best lap of 1:45.106 (121.934 mph); Garcia was fourth in class at 1:45.124 (121.913 mph).
Long-distance racing is the strength of Corvette Racing. In addition to its two victories at Daytona and eight at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team has won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring 10 times and the 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans seven times.
The 2016-spec Corvette C7.R is an updated racecar due to changes in Automobile Club de l’Ouest regulations for top-level GT cars that compete in the IMSA GTLM class. There are a number of aerodynamic changes including a larger splitter at the front and diffuser at the rear of the Corvette. Side skirts and a repositioned wing also are among the most notable changes, along with updated safety features that are now mandated on all GTLM cars.
The powertrain on the Corvette C7.R is unchanged from 2015 with a 5.5-liter V-8 Chevrolet small block powering the race car. The Corvette C7.R will use E20 fuel during the IMSA season and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Rolex 24 was the site of Corvette Racing’s debut on Jan. 31, 1999. Since that first race, the team has competed in more than 170 events around the globe with 97 victories worldwide – including three wins in 2015 – along with 10 team and manufacturer championships in the American Le Mans Series and eight victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona is the start of the 2016 IMSA season and is set for 2:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 30. It will air on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports Go. Live audio coverage from IMSA Radio is available on IMSA.com.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The end of last year’s race was very tense and very difficult. Having two cars so close together after 24 hours shows how tough it is in GTLM. The Corvette Racing team executed perfectly on every stop and made all the right strategy calls. That is what it takes to win these long races. No one does it better than Corvette Racing, as we have shown over the years. We are all ready for a repeat performance.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Winning the Rolex 24 last year was very special. The only thing I would change is to have been in the car at the end instead of watching! But it was a great feeling to see Antonio take the checker first in our class. Going into this race we know the challenge will be even more difficult. There are new cars throughout GTLM, and we know everyone will be watching our race. You have to stay focused and not let up at any point because the competition is so strong. Whoever wins this race will have earned it. I hope it is one of our Corvettes.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This is a bit of a different Rolex 24 for me now that I am with Corvette Racing. Although we may not be in the fastest class, I am sure that GTLM will be the toughest and most competitive. We had a very good test at the Roar, and I feel more comfortable in the Corvette C7.R with each lap I do. Racing in an event like Daytona is a tough task but also one that as drivers we all look forward to and enjoy. Antonio, Jan and I are hopeful to deliver another Daytona win for Corvette Racing.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “By and large the test at Daytona was a great success. It definitely makes things easier in the lead up to the Rolex 24. We should be able to arrive with an established baseline and can work on fine-tuning the little things that add up to give us the greatest chance for success in this race. Although it’s a 24-hour race like Le Mans, Daytona is very different in terms of lighting, how safety car periods work and other nuances. Still it’s a grueling test and one that Tommy, Marcel and myself would love to win.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It’s the start of a new season for Corvette Racing at Daytona. Considering how well the Roar went for us overall in the No. 4 Corvette, we’re pretty confident that we can have a race car that can challenge for a victory. Oliver and I were able to try a lot of different settings and configurations during the test, and Marcel has gotten up to speed very quickly. We have the drivers, crew and engineers to be successful at this race. It’s up to us all to execute how I know we can.”
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “I am ready for my first Rolex 24 At Daytona, and I couldn’t pick a better group to be with than Corvette Racing. It was a pleasure to drive the Corvette C7.R at the Roar and get a feel for the track and traffic conditions ahead of this race. Long-distance races are nothing new to any of us on the team. There are a lot of endurance victories in the Corvette Racing camp between the team and the drivers, so everyone has the proper mindset for what it takes to win this race. For myself, I need to continue to gain confidence and comfort in the car and not make mistakes. If that happens, I know we will have a shot at victory.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “It doesn’t get any better than to start the season with the Rolex 24. It’s the biggest race of the IMSA season and as we saw in 2015, it can set the tone for the balance of the year. As the records show, Corvette Racing has a very strong history of success in long-distance endurance races. We consider these type of events to be our specialty based on the makeup of our drivers, crew and engineers. Still, there are a number of variables that can factor into the outcome of the race. As always, you can be certain that we’ll make that ‘full-throttle’ effort for our fans in the Corvette Corral, around the track and around the world!”
Photo credit: Richard Prince
Article content: Judy Kouba Dominick and Ryan Smith