Corvette Racing at Sebring: Seeking to add to Sebring legacy

Eight previous class victories at North America’s oldest sports car race.

Detroit – Corvette Racing already has one victory in Florida to its credit in 2015. The focus now turns to the second race for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship: the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida at Sebring International Raceway. Both of the team’s Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs are entered in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at a race Corvette Racing has won eight times.

The lineups remain the same as the season opener nearly eight weeks ago. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe are together again in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R after winning the GTLM class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Simon Pagenaud team in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R after a third-place finish at Daytona.

First win

Corvette Racing’s first win at Sebring came in 2002; Gavin teamed with Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell to win in the Corvette C5-R in the American Le Mans Series’ GT1 class. Since that time, the current crop of Corvette Racing drivers have combined for 12 victories at Sebring.

It was at Sebring nearly 60 years go where Chevrolet first launched the Corvette brand into racing at the fifth running of the Sebring 12 Hours. Five Corvettes raced that year with the No. 1 Corvette of John Fitch and Walt Hansgen finishing ninth overall and first in class. Over the next 40 years, Corvettes made sporadic appearances but enough to win 16 more times in class before Corvette Racing arrived with the beginning of the American Le Mans Series in 1999.

That first race at Sebring for the Corvette C5-R ushered in a new era of racing Corvettes at the track. This weekend marks the 17th consecutive season Corvette Racing has fielded two cars for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, plus the team has conducted a number of tests at the track over the years – including last week.

In addition, the team has logged 9,563 laps in competition at the 12 Hours – equal to 35,459.20 miles.

Leading the GTLM Manufacturer

The victory at Daytona means that Chevrolet and Corvette Racing lead the GTLM Manufacturer, Driver and Team points standings in the TUDOR Championship. Like the Rolex 24, Sebring is a round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Chevrolet and Corvette Racing lead the GTLM standings as well in that competition, which is a four-race collection of the TUDOR Championship’s long-distance rounds.

The second round of the 2015 TUDOR United Sports Car Championship is the 63rd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21 from Sebring International Raceway. Coverage will alternate between FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and IMSA.com. Flag-to-flag radio coverage will be available via IMSA Radio.

Antonio Garcia, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: (Sebring event thoughts) “Sebring has always been one of my favorite events in America. The atmosphere you have there is almost comparable to Le Mans. On top of that, racing for Corvette at Sebring is like a home event. There are many more people for you than against you! In that sense, I think we’re on the best team at the best race with the best atmosphere in America. The track is very physical and very demanding. There is no rest time other than the backstretch. Traffic can be very difficult, and then you throw in all the bumps. It raises the stress level on us but also the car.”

Jan Magnussen, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “I have raced at Sebring every year since 1999. It’s a race I look forward to each year. The racing is some of the hardest we do all year, and the fans are great. The Corvette owners and fans are out in force each year, and that makes it a bigger race for us. We had a very good test and got in lots of laps, so we came away confident with how the Corvette feels around Sebring. We will see how things change with traffic and the different types of rubber that goes down during the week. Adding another win at Sebring to follow on our victory at Daytona would be fantastic. We have to keep doing the same things we did before.”

Ryan Briscoe, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: (On last week’s test) “It was great. We all got heaps of laps in over the two days. I felt like our pace in the Corvette C7.R was probably right where we needed to be. The cars have come along a bit as well since then, too. We’re pretty happy. It was really productive and we got through everything we needed to with no issues. We focused really hard on race pace, consistency and how the Michelin tires hold on throughout. We made some really big gains in setup last year before Sebring and left the Corvette alone for the race. For the test, we came back with a similar setup. The Corvette felt really good to me. There had been a lot of other cars testing so track was pretty grippy, which makes a car feel really good around Sebring.”

Oliver Gavin, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: “Sebring is always a physical race. The track is bumpy and aggressive. It’s usually very hot, and that can have an impact on the not just the car but the drivers and crew. It’s the one race where you come out of it feeling beaten up. The circuit really takes it out of you. You feel it through your ribcage and your legs. It’s one of the most physical circuits that anyone could ever drive. It’s something you really have to be prepared for.”

(On first Corvette Racing win at Sebring) “That victory in 2002 was huge. It was my first year with Corvette Racing, and it was really a honeymoon period with the team. We could do no wrong, it seemed. To get that first win with Corvette at Sebring was phenomenal. Then we went on to win Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. It was a pretty special year.”

Tommy Milner, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: (Track differences) “You go from different ends of the spectrum with Daytona and Sebring. You have Daytona – which is fast, nice and smooth with cars that are set up for straight-line speed – and now we go to Sebring where it’s rough and bumpy. It’s a track that requires a car that is really well set up and can handle the bumps really well; it’s a place where we’ll run maximum downforce. The feeling you get, although you’re driving the same car on the same tires, is completely different between the two races.

Simon Pagenaud, No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R: (Getting back in the Corvette) “I know Sebring very well. I’ve been testing there every winter since 2006 and racing in the 12 Hours for a number of years. The biggest thing for is having a race like Daytona under my belt, having some time to think about it and then coming back to the test with a plan that was going to help me grow more comfortable in the Corvette. Things went very well. I got a feel of the car and got a little bit more out of it. The engineers did a great job of helping me find my comfort zone with the car. So now I feel confident with the Corvette C7.R; I can push and I can attack. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the race to be on pace with my teammates. I feel like we are in a really good spot.”

Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager: “It’s a pleasure to return to Sebring - one of our favorite events each year. It also is arguably the most physical race on our calendar for a number of reasons. Sebring is the roughest circuit on which we compete with severe bumps at nearly every turn, and the changes in track surface add to the difficulty. Given all of these elements, it can be very easy for competitors to lose focus in the course of 12 hours. Having said that, there is nowhere else we would rather race. The support we receive from the Corvette fans and owners is phenomenal. It definitely makes a difference!”

Corvette Racing

 

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About this article
Series IMSA
Event Sebring
Track Sebring International Raceway
Drivers Antonio Garcia , Jan Magnussen , Ron Fellows , Oliver Gavin , Ryan Briscoe , Tommy Milner , Simon Pagenaud
Article type Preview
Tags corvette