SALINAS, CA, Tuesday, May 8, 2012: Jan Magnussen is looking to make headlines at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend for all the right reasons – challenging for his first race win of the year.
The Danish Corvette Racing star was in the headlines in 2009 with a clash with Porsche driver Jörg Bergmeister on the final lap of the race.
Magnussen came off second best after contact in the run to the line, spinning into the outside wall – causing extensive damage to both the car and its driver.
A broken tailbone – fortunately in what was the final race of the year – was the first time Magnussen had seriously injured himself in a racecar.
Magnussen and teammate Antonio Garcia have a second and fourth place to their credit in the opening two races of the year. The duo currently sit third in the points battle heading into the third race of the season.
Jan Magnussen Q&A
Q: What has Corvette Racing been up to in preparation for this week?
A: “We tested at Road America Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, but I was only able to do one of the days so I could fly back home to race in the Camaro Cup. The main focus of the Road America test was on Le Mans preparation and I think it went pretty well.
“There isn’t much we can take along from Road America to Laguna, but we’ve got a pretty good handle on what we want to try and achieve. Laguna is one of those places where we can verify that we have come closer to solving a problem that we’ve had when the air temperature cools down, which was an issue last year.
“This year at Sebring we had a good result. When it cooled down, when we drove into the dark, the solution that we may have found worked, and at Laguna we can verify that what we did at Sebring was correct.”
Q: What’s the most challenging part about Laguna Seca?
A: “Driving from day into night. The temperature difference can make the car behave in a different way.
“I love Laguna Seca. It is absolutely my favorite track in the whole world - the layout, location, the whole place.”
Q: How important will it be to get a clean start at Laguna. Would having a wounded car like Long Beach at Laguna for six hours be tough?
A: “The reason we didn’t fix the car at Long Beach was because the race was so short. It was only a two-hour race and the most important thing at Long Beach was track position, which is why we raced the car like it was, damage and all.
“If the same thing happens at Laguna, we’d stop and fix it right.”
Q: The 2009 Laguna Seca race and the last lap incident with Jörg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Porsche was pretty big. Was it one of the hardest hits you’ve had in a race car?
A: “Yes it was and the first time I actually really hurt myself in a race car. I broke my tailbone.”
Q: How long did it take to recuperate from that incident?
A: “Six months. Six months of having a pain in the butt!
“Yeah it was a bad hit, but I’ve got to say that the 20 minutes before that was some of the most fantastic racing I’ve ever had. What a cool race and such a hard battle between me and Bergmeister.
“The last 50 yards wasn’t so much fun but the 20 minutes before that was fantastic."
Q: Have you and Jörg talked about the incident?
A: “We had a good long talk about it the first time we met up and agreed that we can’t put a stop to the good hard racing, but it would be nice if it didn’t happen again. We’ll try to keep all of the good stuff about it and not the bad stuff.”
Q: What is the Swedish Camaro Cup and the Nordic Cup like? How much fun is it for you to do these races without the pressure of ALMS competition?
A: “That’s exactly what it is - fun.
“I like the format of Camaro Cup racing because it’s so different from what I do in the Corvette. The races are really short – only 20 minutes at a time – so you’ve got to get in and get it done immediately.
“There are 30 cars in each race. There’s no waiting around, there’s no strategy, it’s just get going and get through traffic the best you can. The cars are also inexpensive and there’s stuff flying around all the time – I really enjoy it!
“I managed to come away from last weekend with two poles, two wins and two fastest laps. Another weekend like that would be great at Laguna Seca."
Q: What’s Camaro Cup competition like? Are there any guys you battle there you could see would fit into an ALMS team?
A: “There’s a couple of young kids in the series that are coming up through the ranks that ran out of money for their single-seater dreams, so they’ve come to the Camaro Cup. It’s a good championship with a lot of cars, the media’s picking up on it and the racing is exciting.
“There are five races at the beginning of the year in February and March and then they ship the cars to America for runs at Sebring and West Palm Beach. Nic Jonsson drove one of the cars there and I’m sure he had a lot of fun.
“It is something I love to do – I like to be in a race car on the weekends.”
Q: Your son Kevin’s first race in the World Series by Renault championship was last weekend. Are you looking forward to his season ahead?
A: “Oh absolutely. He had a great race on Saturday despite suffering an engine problem in qualifying. He came from 18th all the way up to third and then was moved up to second when one of the other cars was excluded.
“Sunday wasn’t as good. Unfortunately he had some contact in turn one and was out on the opening lap. That wasn’t the result he was looking for, but he was the first to put his hand up and take the blame for that one.
“For his team at Carlin, Aragon is the one track in the series that they haven’t quite unlocked the secret to. Next up he will race in Monaco. The Carlin guys have scored second there over the past two years and won the year before that. That is one both he and I are really looking forward to.”
Q: How often do you guys talk about racing? You must be proud as his dad for him to be doing as well as he has done.
A: “I’m so proud it’s hard to put into words. It’s amazing. For me it’s a chance to kind of relive it all over again. That’s cool. There’s not too many guys in my situation.”
Q: So when you look back at your career, are there things you’ve learned along the way that can help his progress?
A: “Absolutely. I give him as much good advice as I can. But I also really really try hard to just be his dad. He’s going to need a friend – he needs somebody right there beside him through the good and the bad.”