Oliver Gavin second-quickest in GTLM during the weekend ahead of Rolex 24
Daytona Beach, Fla. – Corvette Racing ran through a three-day testing program as part of the Roar Before the 24 – the final opportunity for track time ahead of the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona. The two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs completed a total of 449 laps between them on a weekend focused on development and preparation for the start of the 2016 season.
Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R set the second-fastest GT Le Mans (GTLM) time of the weekend and quickest Sunday during the morning session – a 1:45.106 (121.934 mph) lap in the car he will share with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler at The Rolex 24.
Gavin and Milner will drive together in the full WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Fässler joining for Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
All in all, we’ve made some good steps forward.
Antonio Garcia was the fastest of the drivers in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R that he shares with Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller. Like Gavin, Garcia’s best effort came Sunday morning and was a 1:45.124 (121.913 mph) lap around the 3.56-mile circuit. It was good enough for fourth on the weekend.
Garcia and Magnussen won the Rolex 24 in GTLM a year ago. It was the first leg of Corvette Racing’s Triple Crown season as it also won at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. No team had accomplished the feat in 15 years.
The No. 4 Corvette C7.R team rebounded from an incident Friday in the morning session with Milner behind the wheel. A check valve malfunction ignited a small fire in the right-rear compartment of the race car. It was quickly extinguished, and Milner was uninjured in the incident. The car returned to the track Saturday morning after the team thoroughly checked the Corvette and made the necessary repairs.
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.
Antonio Garcia, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “We always want more track time. But this weekend was very good. The weather gave us a chance to carry on with some things that may help us in the race. It has been a very productive Roar, which is unusual. You tend to lose a lot of time to things like red flags and weather. We have worked through a lot of things that need to be analyzed in order for us to be quicker for the race. We have a good baseline and I’m sure the Corvette engineers will make the right decisions to put us in an even better position for the Rolex 24.”
Jan Magnussen, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “We’re getting through a lot of items on our list that we wanted to try here. The track is probably pretty representative of what the race will be like with the amount of rubber – there have been lots of cars on the track. I think we are moving in the right direction. We’re going through our program – we’re trying to be fast all the time, but sometimes we just need to concentrate on the setup and try to learn more about the car and disregard the time. We’re very happy with the way things are going. We have more aero this year and more grip. The power is the same and these cars are never easy to drive, but they now just feel a little nicer with the added downforce.”
Mike Rockenfeller, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “You always want to have more and more laps, especially when you are in a car like the Corvette that is fun to drive. You always want to be in the car. As we all know, we have to get our work done and I think these three days were quite productive. We were lucky with the weather so we could do a lot of work and check off our boxes. Personally, I feel quite good in the car. I’m still learning lap to lap but I’m already looking forward to the race week.”
Oliver Gavin, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “We’ve made some good progress over the weekend. It’s been good to get Marcel in the car. It’s great to have him back on the team. Tommy and I have been working away on the car - some suspension stuff and aero bits and pieces. Everything is pretty much going to plan. We recovered from the incident Friday where we lost some track time. It doesn’t appear that has set us back too much. It’s very positive. We all seem pretty happy and confident in the car. All in all, we’ve made some good steps forward.”
Tommy Milner, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “The best part about this whole weekend so far is how the guys have done such a great job after the issue we had on Friday. We got it fixed and the car was basically perfect once we got back on track Saturday. 1-2 in this test is not a bad thing, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot because we are going through our laundry list of items of things to try. The fact that we are fast is a good thing – it’s better to be fast rather than being not quick and scratching our heads. We felt like we should have been quick coming here because these cars were a known quantity to us. On the outside they are a bit different with the new aero but underneath they are pretty similar. This is now year three for the C7.R and we’re fine tuning these things now rather than finding big things any more.”
Marcel Fässler, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “For sure, this still feels like a Corvette! The car has changed a bit since I was with the team last. For me, I’m having to learn the car and the track at the same time. It wasn’t easy to go in immediately and be on pace. I’ve progressed a bit and still have to learn a lot. It’s been really good fun to drive this weekend. I ask a lot of myself but need to be patient to continue learning to understand the car. The team organized a good test plan - mainly Olly and Tommy did some of the baseline and tuning work as I needed to keep learning about the Corvette. Now I can speak on what I’ve felt in the car. All this information will definitely help on the race weekend; you don’t want to try new things once the race gets here. The good thing is that the team knows the car so well. It gives us a lot of confidence.”
Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager: “When you come into a weekend like this, there are a number of boxes you want to check off as part of the testing program. As Corvette Racing leaves Daytona, by and large we accomplished all the items on our checklist. With the regulation changes in our class, there are a number of things we needed to understand. Some of those include how our Corvettes react in traffic with the aerodynamic changes, how certain adjustments make the car behave and where we stand against our competition. I’m confident saying that based on the last three days, this will be the toughest Rolex 24 we will face but everyone at Corvette Racing is looking forward to that challenge.”