Third win of season and GT championship lead for No. 3 Compuware Corvette.
AUSTIN, Texas – Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia scored their second straight victory in the American Le Mans Series’ GT class on Saturday, winning the eighth round of the championship at Circuit of The Americas. Garcia led the final 58 minutes in his No. 3 Compuware Chevrolet Corvette C6.R under intense pressure to win by less than a second.
“The ALMS GT class is ultra-competitive,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “Corvette Racing's teamwork was the key element to put us in the best positions to race for a win today. Preparation, strategy, flawless pit stops and incredible driving by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia delivered a fifth win for Corvette Racing this season. The championship points standings remain very tight. Our focus remains on prep for the final two races of the season.”
Saturday’s race will air on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
On the opposite end of the spectrum were Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. Their No. 4 Corvette lost its transmission just shy of the one-hour mark. The duo entered the weekend with the drivers’ championship lead.
Milner started from third but moved to lead class lead at the start the race as both Corvettes got around the pole-sitting BMW before Turn 1. Magnussen dropped back to third but moved up two positions and into the lead 10 minutes later when the then-race leading Viper went wide off track and forced Milner to back off slightly.
Two stellar pit stops and an incredible strategic call on the team’s first stop put Garcia in the lead for good with a little less than an hour remaining. The Spaniard fended off multiple charges from Dirk Muller by timing the race traffic just right. He was able to put slower cars between himself and his competitors on numerous occasions to build gaps from as little as 0.2 seconds to 1.5 and 2 seconds at a time.
In the No. 4 Corvette, Milner reported having issues shifting up to third gear 11 minutes in, and the problem grew worse when the car lost drive in fourth gear at the 57-minute mark. It stopped halfway around the circuit and could not continue.
“It was great to see the Corvette Racing team salute our Corvette customers in the Corvette Corral directly across from our pit location with a win,” Campbell said. “We race to improve the production car, and we race for our Corvette owners.”
The next race for Corvette Racing is the Oak Tree Grand Prix on Saturday, Oct. 5 from Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va. The race will air on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 6 with live coverage at 2 p.m. ET, Oct. 5 on ESPN3.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R: “We made the right decision with strategy. We saw the No. 55 BMW stop early before because of traffic, and that’s why our team decided to pit me early as well (on the last stop). I knew we were pitting before everyone else and I had to be really focused and aggressive on my out-lap on new tires. That’s what I think gave us the lead. From that point, traffic played a huge role in this race. From Turn 3 to Turn 8, no one could pass.
I’m sure all the prototypes were getting mad behind us, and we were getting mad at the GT Challenge cars. So basically we needed to stay in line and stay aggressive. There was a point with 30 minutes to go where Dirk (Muller) right on my bumper. I thought it was going to be a really long finish with 30 minutes of holding him back.
There was no traffic at that point, but when I did see traffic I knew that was my only opportunity. I was really aggressive and could build a gap over him. In the end, it’s second victory in a row for us and the GT championship lead. I’m very happy.”
(Have you driven in a stint that intense?) “I have but I was chasing people for a long time. Last year, we were there in four or five races in a row where we couldn’t make the winning pass. The team did a great job on strategy by stopping Jan earlier so the fuel fill was a little shorter. We know that from being in the lead, other cars have to work harder to pass you. “
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R: “The start was mayhem. A lot of cars were trying to get into turns 1 and 2. I went three-wide with a prototype and my teammate and didn’t win anything. I lost a spot to the other Corvette. When things got settled, we were struggling to get by the Prototype Challenge cars, which at that point hadn’t gotten up to speed. It was really hard to get back into a rhythm and go for it from there.
I was able to just about hang on to one of the Vipers, which was extremely fast at the beginning. Once we pitted, I handed over to Antonio. Once all the stops were over, we were in the lead. After that, Antonio did a fantastic job with all the pressure he faced.”
(How tough was it to watch the finish?) “It’s nerve-wracking and frustrating to watch someone else be under the kind of pressure Antonio was under. I know exactly what he was going through, and you’re honestly exploding inside. I looked at the clock with 17 minutes left and watched a lot of racing.
Then I looked up again and the clock said 16 minutes! That clock was counting down very slowly. You feel pretty helpless there watching the monitor. I think what makes you so nervous when you’re watching the race is that you get all the information – all the lap times, who is going fast and who isn’t, and all the TV cameras. It was no good!”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R: “It was an extremely disappointing day for the No. 4 car. We were encouraged by Friday’s qualifying performance, and Tommy’s strong start to the lead put us in an ideal position. But in racing, bad luck can strike at any time and it hit us today in a most inopportune time. We still have a lot to race for during the final two rounds to help Chevrolet and Corvette Racing secure another ALMS championship. Congratulations to Antonio, Jan and the No. 3 team on a phenomenal victory in an absolutely stunning race.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R: “It’s a disappointing day. A gremlin that was around all weekend finally bit hard in the race, which is unfortunate. It doesn’t kill our drivers’ championship hopes but it puts a big damper on them. It’s great for the No. 3 guys. It’s hard to be too mad because our teammates are out front, doing well and have won two in a row.
So that’s good for them. This is how a two-car team should be. We have two very good teams and two very good cars. The weekend started pretty poorly in general. But we had a great qualifying effort, which was a whole team effort. We had great cars in the race, obviously. All credit to Corvette Racing.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “The drive that Antonio put on the last hour-and-a-half of that race was as strong an effort as I've seen in my time in the ALMS. It was just an incredible drive – precision, skill, being cool under fire – that demonstrates all the things we represent at Corvette Racing. Antonio Garcia put on an awesome show for the fans today. If you didn’t enjoy this one, nothing will make you happy.”
DOUG LOUTH, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, CORVETTE RACING: “Kyle Millay in the No. 3 car and Chuck Houghton on the No. 4 did a phenomenal job with the car setups. Facing a new track with a different mix of segment types than we usually see and the hottest track temps we’ve had in years, they came up with a package relatively unusual for us that obviously had great long-run pace and consistency.
Jan and Antonio were spot on; Antonio’s drive to work traffic and hold off the BMW is one of the best I’ve ever watched. And of course the No. 3 crew had two perfect pit stops. As close as the finish was, anything less than perfect would have put us mid-pack. The No. 4 car had a tough day, but the guys were just as successful getting their car tuned for the hot conditions as Tommy showed early in the race.”