Gavin, Milner, Fässler win again in No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Sebring, Fla. – Corvette Racing’s Triple Crown streak continued Saturday with a 10th class victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R won their second straight race to open the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) season to go along with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
It is the second straight victory at Sebring for Corvette Racing and the third in four years. Milner drove the final two hours and 50 minutes to win by 2.882 seconds. The team has won the last five of the world’s top endurance races – Daytona and Sebring in 2015 and 2016, plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015.
"Great driving, teamwork and execution in the pits were keys to today’s GTLM class victory for the No. 4 Corvette C7.R team in the 12 Hours of Sebring," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "To come from two laps down and win in a field as competitive as the IMSA GTLM class is a true reflection of the never-give-up attitude of the Corvette Racing team.
Campbell added, "This win is special because it Corvette Racing's second consecutive win at Sebring and follows win at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The IMSA season is off to an exciting start."
Milner drove the first two hours, 50 minutes in Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and was third at the time of a red flag for lightning and track conditions. Milner had led the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class midway through the opening quarter thanks to a strong first pit stop by the Corvette Racing crew and being able to take on wet tires 90 minutes into the race just before the pit entry closed due to a crash on track.
Fässler got in the No. 4 Corvette not long after the two-hour, 15-minute stoppage and drove in some of the most challenging conditions. He switched from slick to wet and back to slick Michelin tires during his stint as the track surface and weather changed throughout with his pace improving as his stint wore on. Gavin then took over on a dry track with less than five hours to go. He drove two-plus hours and got the Corvette back on the GTLM lead lap before Milner drove to the end.
The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller also was a contender for a repeat victory at Sebring before the car suffered heavy damage when another GTLM competitor hit Magnussen at the entry to Turn One, which sent both cars hard into the outside tire barrier. Magnussen, part of the GTLM-winning effort with Garcia a year ago, had just taken the lead in class with less than a little less than five hours remaining in the race.
Magnussen was evaluated and released from the Sebring infield care center, but the car suffered significant damage to the driver’s side and rear internal components. The No. 3 Corvette Racing crew worked feverishly to repair the car, and it returned to the race less than 45 minutes after it arrived in the team’s paddock.
Despite the setback, the No. 3 Corvette completed enough laps for ninth-place points.
Action Express Racing Nets Two Podium Finishes
A year after claiming Chevrolet’s first overall victory at Sebring in 50 years, Action Express Racing again climbed the overall podium with both of its Corvette Daytona Prototypes. The No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP of Dane Cameron, Eric Curran and Scott Pruett placed second overall. The trio finished just 2.926 behind the race-winning Prototype.
“I am proud of how the Corvette DP teams and drivers raced at Sebring,” Campbell said. “They raced hard all day long and secured two podium positions at this challenging track.”
Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, last year’s winners in the Action Express No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, teamed with Felipe Albuquerque to finish third overall Saturday. Their Corvette DP led the most laps.
Marc Goossens, Ryan Dalziel and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fifth in Visit Florida Racing’s No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP; Wayne Taylor Racing’s quartet of Jordan and Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli and Rubens Barrichello placed 12th in class in their No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP.
The next event for Corvette Racing and the Corvette DPs is the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Saturday, April 16 from the Long Beach (California) street circuit.
Corvette Racing Quotes
Oliver Gavin, Corvette Racing No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – GTLM Race Winner: "The race started with us not knowing how much pace we were going to have compared to our competition. Then Tommy and Antonio were both marching up the order. Tommy got us into the lead with some great pit stops and some good strategy. Then of course the rain came and we had that big stoppage. It is hard to get yourself focused after that. But you do, you manage, you use your experience and you get going again.
Then it was a case of us battling away with a few things – some bits and pieces – the weather; the track; the tires – generally the conditions. I got the car back onto the lead lap and got us into the top-three. Then I handed it over to Tommy and he did a great, great job. I knew we were in great position toward the end of my double-stint because I knew the car was good because it was underneath me. It had a little bit too much understeer hear and there, but the car was really strong.
We got back on the lead lap and into the right spot. Tommy could then get it and run to the end. He had been on fire all day. I had to do exactly what he did at Daytona which was sit on the pit box and watch and fret and pace and stress about is there going to be another yellow. Or is this going to happen, or is that going to happen? Is the last pit stop going to go okay. The guys did a brilliant job with that. Once again the team had their stresses and strain through the day.
Jan's accident was huge and it just shows the quality of the car and the ability of the team to bounce back from that and get that car back out. It was just an exceptional day again. This is 60 hours of racing that we've won with the No. 4 with Le Mans, Daytona 24 Hours and now Sebring 12 Hours. That is just amazing that we have been able to do that in the last 12 months. I am very, very happy with the performance of the whole team."
Tommy Milner, Corvette Racing No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – GTLM Race Winner: "What a race. We sort of had an up-and-down race. At the start of the race the car wasn't super quick, but we weren't bad by any means. We had a great pit stop there and got me to the lead. Then the rain came, and we weren't super good in the wet for sure… third or fourth quick there for sure. But then when I got in at the end, I've NEVER had a race car that good. That Corvette was absolutely on rails and I could tell as soon as I left pit lane…
I knew we had a fast race car. I just immediately knew – the car felt that good. We didn't have the best car at the start; certainly not in the rain. But at the end we had THE best car - here we are P1. I’m super, super happy for these guys – for Oliver and Marcel. And for all the crew guys. They have worked super hard. Just fortunate to be in the car there at the end and get to have some fun like that."
Marcel Fässler, Corvette Racing No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – GTLM Race Winner: “It’s an amazing day. Two events with Corvette Racing and two wins. I’m really, really happy and proud to be a part of this winning team. Looking back at my race, it was quite tough after the red flag for me. I had never driven this track in the wet, especially not in a GT car. It was difficult to find the right racing line early but after that I felt OK. On my last stop, I think we went a little too early on slick tires, and it was really tricky for me to stay on track.
Unfortunately I went off and hit one of the banners. We had to stop because the engine was getting warm. So yes it was a tricky situation. We lost some laps but we were able to catch up. Oliver and Tommy did a really good job out there. It was great to watch them, especially Tommy. I think he did half the race which was really impressive and an unbelievable job. The team made no mistakes and the car was a rocket.”
Antonio Garcia, Corvette Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Finished ninth in GTLM: “When the rain came, it was a bit of a disaster. It looked from the outside like it was hero time for everybody wanting to take a risk. I wasn't that keen on doing that. I stayed safe but aggressive. I stayed in touch with the leaders. But it was very, very difficult with the conditions. I don't know how the 25 BMW and I didn't crash at the end of the straight. We were literally navigating for half a straight not controlling the car at all. I was able to come to a full stop before the tire barriers. Luckily some other GT cars avoided me spinning, and I had a couple of cars going by sideways and backward. I avoided the wall but unfortunately the pits were closed at that time so we had to go back around on slick tires.”
Jan Magnussen, Corvette Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Finished ninth in GTLM: “It’s such a huge shame for everyone on the team really. The weather made it really difficult out there. The decision to go to slicks felt wrong, but we did it. After awhile I could see that times were coming down and I could build a little bit of temperature. I kept working at it. I don’t know how far back we were but we were a long way but caught everything up. We got into the lead there for a very short while and then it all went south. It’s a shame. (Kevin) Estre (911 driver) came and apologized. That’s nice enough but it doesn’t change the fact that we are in here building the car. I really, really feel bad for the crew because man we were fast.”
Mike Rockenfeller, Corvette Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Finished ninth in GTLM: “Congrats to the No. 4 team. They did a great job. Like Daytona, we had a chance to win the race but it didn't work out. The result for me was quite frustrating, but overall it was great to be with this team and to be part of it. I tried to everything I could. Two races... unfortunately not the results I was hoping for. But in Sebring we had all the chances. We had a car that could win especially in the dry. That is a positive."
Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager: “Just when you think you’ve seen it all - with the tremendous wins at Le Mans and Daytona - Corvette Racing comes back from one of our cars being taken out and the other two laps down with six hours to go and standing here in Victory Lane… it’s a great team, great drivers, tremendous strategy and engineering, flawless execution on pit stops. It takes an effort like this to win in this race and in this series. We’re racing against the world’s best. And today we demonstrated why Corvette Racing is the world’s best GT racing team.”
Corvette Daytona Prototype quotes
Scott Pruett, Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP: Finished second in Prototype: "It would have been awesome to win. We felt like we could win. We went to a knife fight with a gun. The guys did a great job! Dane did a really nice job there at the end. Realistically this is probably my last Prototype race so it would have been nice to be on the top of the podium, but I couldn't be happier with second place and this great group of guys. Everybody at Action Express has been a real pleasure and welcomed me in as part of the family. I had so much fun today racing hard and taking the lead in my stints. It was a great day!"
Eric Curran, Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP: Finished second in Prototype: "The day ended up great. The No. 31 was good and the Action Express guys kicked butt all day long. We ended up with a top-notch finish. It would have been nice to pull out a win there. He was pedaling hard to keep the thing out front, but he didn't have anything for the Patron car. Dane did all the heavy lifting today to be honest. He drove almost half the race. Scott did a great job and I did my best to try and screw it up for everybody. We got back on track and Dane had a good car for the end. Hats off. It was a good day for us. I look forward to going to Long Beach here in a month or so."
Dane Cameron, Action Express Racing No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP: Finished second in Prototype: "It was a long day. I drove a lot and I am going to sleep very well. I am really proud of the effort we put forth today in the Whelen Action Express Corvette today. I really think that was an excellent effort for today. I think we can be quite proud all around for the effort - all the drivers, all the guys in the pits, spotters. Everybody was really really great today. We just didn't quite have enough in the last couple of laps which is obviously very disappointing to come so close. It was a strong endurance race for us so we can push on toward the championship."
Joao Barbosa, Action Express Racing No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP - Finished third in Prototype: "It was good to be back in race conditions. The team did a tremendous job today with our team being the only team fighting with the P2 cars to the end. We were definitely the class of the field as a team - no problems. The car ran flawlessly, no problems at all. The car ran great. We ran as fast as we could, as strong as we could without any mistakes but it wasn't enough today. We definitely felt like we are in a gun fight with a knife, but we came up a little bit short. It is a little bit disappointing. A little bit frustrating. We did our best and still not up there even close enough to win. But we are looking ahead to the season and the championship. We have a strong team, even stronger than last year so the future looked really great."
Felipe Albuquerque, Action Express Racing No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP - Finished third in Prototype: "It was a hell of a day. Crazy weather for everyone. We survived everything. We led a lot of the race. I think Joao and Christian and the team did a great job, but in the end it was just strategy and place. The P2 car was same story as Daytona. He went way too quick. I could expect him to brake so late into Turn Seven. I was at my limit. I couldn't even brake later. It's like that and it is so frustrating to see last seven laps with the win so close but at the same time so far because the guy was pulling so much. It is what it is. P3 was what we had."
Christian Fittipaldi, Action Express Racing No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP - Finished third in Prototype: "It was an awesome day for the whole team for Action Express to finish two and three. We definitely managed to get into the mix with the other cars. The P2s were definitely very, very strong in the race. I am very proud of everything we did this week. So close but no cigar. And unfortunately that's the way it went today. I'm happy to collect the points we did today. Now we'll turn the page and prepare for Long Beach."