Sights set on another points haul in Indianapolis debut.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - With four consecutive TUDOR United Sportscar Championship GTLM class victories in a row, Corvette Racing's Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia enter new territory this weekend with the Brickyard Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Danish ace Magnussen has never raced at Indy previously but is keen to continue the incredible run he and his Spanish teammate have had aboard the No.3 Corvette C7.R entry.
The duo took their first victory earlier this year on the streets of Long Beach and then have rolled on with further wins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen and the most recent victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park near Toronto.
The secret to Magnussen and Garcia's success has been their pace through traffic. That skill is going to have to come to the fore at Indy with a 49-car field doing battle around the 2.4-mile road course layout. The new infield layout at the "Brickyard" was used for the first time in May this year for the inaugural IndyCar road race.
Magnussen and Garcia currently hold a 19-point lead in the championship with five races remaining. Corvette Racing will hit the track for the first time today at 10:45am. A pair of practice sessions and qualifying will take place today with tomorrow's two hour, 45 minute race going green at 5:45pm
How much are you looking forward to making your Indianapolis debut? “No I haven’t. It will be the first time for me at that place. I’ve been watching some onboard video stuff to try and get a good feel for the track, that’s basically all I can do. Pratt and Miller does have some data for us to look at before we go out. But basically, what I’ve done is just study as much video as I can.”
How big an influence will traffic play at this race with nearly 50 cars around a 2.4 mile layout? “This could be one of the places where the traffic is really going to be a huge problem for everybody. But it is the same for everyone out there so we’ll just have to deal with it the best we can. I think in the past we’ve dealt with traffic really well. “We get a lot of information from the team while we’re on track. On the #3 car, we have Dan Binks helping us on the radio spotting the best he can, using the monitors and all that. Plus we have the radar rear view system that helps us a lot but it will be tough. Even if it’s a shorter race, we have to make it to the end and stay out of trouble.”
Q: When you did the open wheel races, going back a few years now, was the Indy 500 ever on your radar as a race you wanted to do?
A: “The Indy 500 used to be one of the races that was on my list but the times I was driving those cars I was substituting for someone else. It was towards the end of the year both times so the 500 was never part of the Indy stuff that I did.”
Four wins in a row, what’s it going to take to make it five in a row? “We’ve pretty much just been aiming to be consistent and grab as many points as possible – the wins have followed on from that. We haven’t been putting everything on the line to go for the win at any of the four races that we’ve won. We try to do as good a job as possible and just get the most out of it.
“That will still be our strategy for this race. It’s worked the last four times, so hopefully we can get a fifth win. But we will take all the points that we can get and if that’s a win, or second or third, whatever, we need to get the best out of the weekend. Whatever that may be.”
How did your ELMS race go last weekend in Austria? “I was on pole, so qualifying went well. Unfortunately when I got in the car – I was third in the rotation – we had a rear upright failure so that put us out of contention. We did fix it and got back in the race but we were 25 laps down unfortunately but that’s how it goes sometimes. But it was fun being back at the Red Bull Ring. Last time I was there was 1997, so it was almost like learning a new track, but not quite. It’s a cool facility I can tell you that. It’s an old school type track layout with postmodern facilities around it. I would have loved to run the old original Osterreichring back in the day.”
What about Kevin’s race on the weekend, obviously it was a bit unfortunate at the start but he followed on pretty well after his strong qualifying? “Yeah, his qualifying was fantastic. He absolutely nailed it in Q3. I would so have loved to see him get a good start and see what he could have done from fourth place. Unfortunately, there was the incident with Massa in turn one that put him last. But he drove fantastically after that and drove up the field to finish ninth right behind the other McLaren. Not the result they wanted but he did get to prove a lot of things to the team.
“It was just such a shame. It was a racing incident, that was the conclusion from the FIA also, but it could’ve been avoided if the other guy had made more room. There was no way out of it. Kevin backed out of it with Bottas to make sure they got through the corner and then Massa comes from the outside and boom. There’s nothing Kevin could’ve done.”
Hungary this week for Kevin, that’s a place he’s done really well in the past. “It should be another good weekend for McLaren. It’s one of those tracks where there’s a lot of slow and medium corners, where McLaren seems to be handling well and hopefully they can have another small step forward that will put them right where they need to be. He has had some great success in World Series by Renault there in the past so it should be a strong weekend.”