Three-day test at Daytona critical for chances at Rolex 24
DETROIT – Following a season that saw four race wins with the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, Corvette Racing begins 2015 in the Florida sunshine for a weekend of testing during the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway. The three days serve as a prelude to the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona in two weeks, which also is the first round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
As was the case in 2014, Corvette Racing will enter two Corvette C7.Rs for the full TUDOR Championship, and both will be on hand at Daytona this weekend. The full-season lineup for Corvette Racing remains the same for the fourth consecutive season – Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette, and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette. Ryan Briscoe in the No. 3 Corvette and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 4 will join the quartet as third drivers; Briscoe drives with Corvette for the second straight year while Daytona will make Pagenaud’s debut with the team.
Both Corvettes led in GT Le Mans class in last year’s debut
Last year’s Roar marked the debut of the Corvette C7.R and the return of Corvette Racing to the high banks of Daytona for the first time since winning the Rolex 24 overall in 2001. The early going was encouraging as both cars led the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class and showed impressive speed in practice and the race. Mechanical problems sidelined both cars in the race’s second half.
The team and drivers grew more comfortable with the Corvette C7.R as the year went on. Garcia and Magnussen won four times with Garcia finishing third in the GTLM driver championship. The season included a runner-up and fourth-place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Since the final race of 2014, Corvette Racing has tested twice in an effort to continue the ongoing development of the Corvette C7.R.
Second season with Chevrolet Corvette C7.R after four victories in 2014
The racecar is based on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 production car. The two share an unprecedented level of attributes including a common chassis structure (both of which are built at Corvette’s assembly plant in Bowling Green, Ky.), direct injection on the engine front and aerodynamic strategy.
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 160 events around the globe with 94 victories worldwide – including the overall win in the 2001 Rolex 24 – along with 10 team and manufacturer championships in the American Le Mans Series and seven victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Antonio Garcia, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(This year vs. last year’s Roar) “It will be very different than last year. Last year we unfortunately showed that we weren’t at 100 percent. We found trouble almost right away, and the whole race was a question mark in terms of how the car would behave during such a long race. Now we have a couple of 24-hour races, 12 hours at Sebring and an entire season, we are way more prepared than 2014. We have to learn from the mistakes we made last year and make sure we get 100 percent out of the Corvette C7.R again. Le Mans compared to Daytona was way better because we had four or five races under our belts and we definitely showed a difference and had a car to win. We need to focus on that and our jobs. We definitely have a car to win.”
Jan Magnussen, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(Developing the Corvette C7.R) “The testing we had after the end of last season was very good for us. We got to test some things on the car that we needed to revisit plus some new stuff and tires. So I think we’re as well prepared as we can be at this point. We won’t know where we are in terms of our competition until qualifying for the Rolex 24. But I think we’re in good shape for the Roar. Even though there will be a lot of cars on track and we have to count on some red flags, we’re in a good position to get a lot of work done.”
Ryan Briscoe, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(Track time) “Once we get to the race weekend, seat time is extremely limited. The track time you get is often interrupted by traffic and red flags. For whatever reason, it always feels disjointed on the race weekend. You really wanted to be heading into that totally prepared, and that comes from having a good three days at the Roar. It’s crucial and is every year. You have to treat the Roar as part of the 24-hour weekend. You need to be focused every time you hit the track, every time you get prepared, every time you practice driver changes… it is part of the race and makes a big difference in how you might end up doing.”
Oliver Gavin, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(Roar outlook) “I feel pretty positive coming into 2015. We’ve had a good couple of tests. We came off a strong run at Petit Le Mans at the end of last season. It will be very exciting having Simon Pagenaud with us. He has an amazing track record in both sports cars and open-wheel racing. It’s very positive to have someone like him in our car and on our team. I’m confident he will be able to jump into our car and be there right away – much like Ryan (Briscoe) was last year in the No. 3 car.”
Tommy Milner, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(Roar importance) “The race schedule is pretty compact – just like last year. So these three days are pretty important for getting a good baseline on the car for where we think we need to be as far as the all the major setup components. As we go into the race weekend, we can fine-tune then depending on the conditions. I think we have a pretty good baseline considering the testing we’ve done already. Daytona is pretty different than any other race we do, so getting that baseline is going to be critical.”
Simon Pagenaud, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
(Transitioning to GT racing) “When I was racing prototypes with another manufacturer, you always noticed the presence of the Corvette and Chevrolet fans. I’ve always said this is a proper program – well put together, a very impressive presentation, great drivers and a fantastic team. The results speak for themselves. It’s great to be part of it now. I expect the biggest challenge not to be the car but to be traffic. Sports car racing is all about traffic. I have quite a bit of experience from being in one of the fastest categories. I knew how I aggressive I could be with the GT cars and now I’m going to be on the other side. Driving and looking in the mirror is a high talent. Certainly I’ll have to work on that.
Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager
“It’s always good to get back to racing, especially at Daytona. Since the end of the 2014 season, the crew and engineers at Corvette Racing have continued developing and improving the Corvette C7.R. Two tests late in the year gave us a solid start on our 2015 program that continues with the Roar Before the 24. It’s a three-day test but when you are talking about preparing for a 24-hour race, every minute you spend at the track is critical. You can’t get enough laps in practice around Daytona.”
Team Chevy Racing