CORVETTE’S MAGNUSSEN READY FOR SPORTSCAR BATTLEFIELD
SEBRING, FL, Thursday, March 15: Danish star Jan Magnussen enters the 2012 American Le Mans Series season ready for battle with a new teammate and a newly-revised Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1.
The Corvette fan favorite, who won the American Le Mans Series most-popular driver award last season, knows he will need every weapon he has at his disposal with a four-way fight looming between four supercar brands – Chevrolet Corvette vs BMW vs Porsche vs Ferrari.
Magnussen will be joined on a full-time basis this season by Spaniard Antonio Garcia aboard the #3 Corvette – the pair driving a brand-new car for 2012 that takes advantage of rule changes. The new Corvette is 2 inches wider and has its rear wing mounted nearly three inches higher.
The car’s 5.5 liter V8 engine also has more power with a larger air inlet restrictor.
A series regular since the birth of the American Le Mans Series in 1999, Magnussen and his teammate Garcia will have a new third driver for the major long distance races in second-generation racer Jordan Taylor.
Remarkably, the 20-year-old son of former Sebring winner Wayne Taylor was only seven years old when his Danish teammate first began to make his mark on the American sportscar racing scene.
But Magnussen has done more than “make his mark” – he has made history in the American Le Mans Series as the only driver to win at least one race in every season of the championship.
His take no prisoners attitude will certainly be required in 2012 as the GT “battle royale” begins at Sebring. But not only will Magnussen and Corvette have to fight their regular full-season rivals, the Florida enduro race also doubles as the opening round of the new World Endurance Championship – bringing additional top-line teams from Europe to battle the American regulars.
Jan Magnussen Q&A
Q: The American Le Mans Series season is about to kick off - how much are you looking forward to starting off on a really strong note with your new co-driver?
A: “Sebring is one of the biggest races of the year. It’s also the start of the 2012 season and it kicks off the championship, so it’s always important to get a good result at the event. “The 12 Hours of Sebring in itself is a hard race to win. Everybody on the team is working hard, and I’ve been working hard to try to develop the car, trying to go a little bit faster than last year. I think we’ve done a good job with that. “We’re going to have to see where our competition stands and then take it from there. “Last year at Sebring we finished fourth and we had some problems. We had a chance of winning, but unfortunately, I got involved with an accident with a Flying Lizard Porsche and that put us back. “But this year there’s only one goal, and that’s to win this race and start the championship off on a good note.”
Q: Your teammate this year is Antonio Garcia. Have you guys been able to gel? Are you preferences in the car similar?
A: “Antonio and I are looking for the same things in the car, and it’s a good match. We’re also about the same size, so there’s no issues with inserts or other adjustments. “Antonio has been around the Corvette program for a while as a third driver in the endurance races – he was the third driver for Corvette back in 2009 when we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together. “But it’s great that he’s on full-time with Corvette now. We will really get a chance to develop the car together, which benefits us both as the season goes on.”
Q: The GT field is going to be quite competitive - two factory Corvettes, two factory BMWs, two Flying Lizard Porsches, two ESM Ferraris – all teams appear to be really stepping up their game. Is this race, and this season, going to be an all-out war?
A: “Absolutely. At the moment it’s hard to pick a clear favorite because it looks so evenly matched at the moment. “Last season, the BMWs were very strong and especially at the first part of the year. At the end of last season, the Ferraris were really fast. At this point, I think that everyone’s probably caught up a little bit, so I think the GT class will be about evenly matched up. “Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the cars would be really close at Sebring qualifying on Friday. It’s going to be quite a fight.”
Q: This is the 60th anniversary for Sebring. What would it mean for you to get a win at this historic event?
A: “It would be fantastic. Corvette has not won at Sebring since we came out of the GT1 class and started in the GT2 category. “We are looking for a victory, and if we can do it on the 60th anniversary at Sebring it would be even better. “Sebring is a fantastic track and the right place to start off the season – what an amazing event.”
Q: Have you done any testing since the American Le Mans Series Winter Test?
A: “No. We had a really good ALMS Winter Test and we’ve prioritized – we’re just getting everything ready for the Sebring week. “During the week of the race we’re going to be doing a lot of testing at the track. There is so much testing and practice running before the race, that from our perspective, we’ll be just fine.”