Overall race victory would be first for Corvette Racing in IMSA.
Corvette Racing’s first two years at Virginia International Raceway brought Corvette Racing championship bounties. This weekend, the team has a chance for another landmark in its history – an overall victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Corvette Racing will try and make that a reality this weekend in Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR.
The ninth TUDOR Championship race for Corvette Racing is set for 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday and features the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class – in which Corvette Racing competes – and the slower GT Daytona (GTD). After this weekend, only two events will remain. Heading to Virginia, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen lead the GTLM driver’s championship as does Chevrolet in the manufacturer standings. The No. 3 Corvette Racing entry heads team points.
As was the case in 2012 and 2013, Corvette Racing comes to VIR with two entries. But unlike those two years, the vehicle of choice is the new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Garcia and Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette, and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 C7.R. In its first season with the C7.R, Corvette Racing has won four straight GT Le Mans races in mid-season and placed second in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The last two trips to VIR for Corvette Racing ended with championship-clinching results. In 2002, Gavin and Milner won the American Le Mans Series’ GT class by 20 seconds in the No. 4 Corvette C6.R. It was the fourth of the year for the duo and delivered three additional trophies: ALMS GT driver, manufacturer and team championships. In addition, Garcia set the fastest race lap in the No. 3 Corvette despite the car being caught up in a multi-car crash on a frenzied start.
VIR delivered the championship in 2013
The 2013 race provided a similar bounty. A third-place finish at VIR for Garcia and Magnussen landed Chevrolet a second straight GT manufacturer title and consecutive team titles for Corvette Racing. The driver’s championship for Garcia and Magnussen came a race later at Road Atlanta, but their podium result at VIR gave them a comfortable margin heading into the season finale where they claimed the GT championship. It marked the final appearance at VIR for the Corvette C6.R.
Fast-forwarding to this year’s Oak Tree Grand Prix, there’s no reason to think the new Corvette will be any less competitive than the C6.R. Starting at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Corvette showed consistent performance across different types of circuits. Gavin set the fastest race lap at Sebring as the No. 4 Corvette dominated but fell short of a victory. At Long Beach, Garcia and Magnussen won their first race of the year; Magnussen captured pole position and Milner set the fastest race lap.
Garcia and Magnussen added another victory at Laguna Seca – their second straight at the track – and Garcia was the fastest qualifier. After finishing second and fourth at Le Mans, Garcia and Magnussen continued their winning ways at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
As for VIR, “The track itself is different from anywhere else we go," aid Magnussen. "It’s very interesting and very old school. To me, it’s incredible driving there and a very huge challenge. It’s a technical race track and super quick. The Corvette does well there because in the past – and we still do – because the car performs well with good mechanical grip and with aero.”
FOX Sports 1’s live television coverage of the Oak Tree Grand Prix at VIR starts at 4 p.m. ET Sunday. Live coverage of qualifying begins at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on IMSA.com.