SEBRING, Fla. (March 16, 2013) - Both the No. 3 and No. 4 GT Compuware Corvette C6.Rs have experienced early problems in American Le Mans Series 61st Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, but, at the midway point, the No. 4 Corvette C6.R remains in contention after overcoming a two-lap deficit at Sebring International Raceway.
“We’ve got a fast car and we’ve been stuck behind some of our class leaders,” said Tommy Milner after his second stint in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R ended just after the midway point. “When the tires are new, our car is really, really good right at the start, so I was able to get by the BMW and the Ferrari, and by the time I got by them, I used my tires up pretty good. So, it was the right pit call there to get us out of sequence and now we’re back on the lead lap.”
Oliver Gavin, who qualified second in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, quickly gained the GT lead, which he held before handing over driving duties to Milner and Richard Westbrook. The team was still in the lead when, nearing the race’s third hour, Westbrook reported that smoke was coming from the dashboard.
“Unfortunately, toward the end of the stint, we had an electrical issue – one of the fuses burned out,” Westbrook said. “Small, I wouldn’t say fire, but smoke in the dash, so I came straight in. The guys turned it around very quick, as per usual, and we’re back in the fight.”
The team dropped two laps off the lead in-class, but managed to get back on the lead lap at about the 4½-hour mark.
Gavin’s first-lap dash to the lead contained a couple of near-misses.
“Those first couple of corners I managed to be in the right spot and pick my way through some of the PC cars that seemed to be struggling on colder tires,” Gavin said. “One car, I thought he was going to loop it around in front of me, but I just snuck by him before he spun – that was coming out of turn one. Then coming out of turn four another one did exactly the same.
“I knew that having qualifying tires on the car that it was going to be somewhat tough to do that first stint with the heat of today. So I was really mindful not to go all out on them straightaway. They lasted pretty well up until the last three or four laps, and then I was hanging on a little bit. The pit stop came just at the right time, and the guys did a fantastic job of that with that, getting Tommy into the car. It’s a very positive start for us.”
Milner took over about an hour into the race and kept the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R in front.
“We still have to work very, very hard,” Milner said. “The crew has done a great job so far. The entire week we’ve sort of been skeptical with the car because the track surface changes and things like that. But, you know, this crew is fantastic. We know from past experience that come race time the track grips up, the car feels good and we have a good car right now.”
The No. 3 Corvette C6.R started fifth but experienced a couple of problems early. Antonio Garcia accidently ran into the back of a slower car which was in the middle of the track, and incurred a stop-and-go penalty, plus a 60-second penalty to lose one lap, and then Garcia reported problems with downshifting. Starting on lap 20, the car three times came in for repairs – which included changing the gearbox, steering wheel and electronics.
Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor also are driving the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R this weekend.
“The car is very, very good, it’s just a shame that we’re so far back,” Taylor said. “We have a very competitive car.” One restart, he said, he easily passed three or four cars. “We’ll use the rest of the race as a test session.”