Jan Magnussen: Stunning win at Sebring sets up Long Beach attack
Motorsport.com’s Jan Magnussen looks back on a hugely successful 12 Hours of Sebring for Corvette Racing.
The entire team at Corvette Racing heads to Long Beach this weekend with a smile on our faces after a great victory at Sebring.
The car was pretty strong in practice and qualifying but even we surprised ourselves with how strong the car was in the race.
Antonio [Garcia] made a great start and settled into second place early in the day and then we just continued to run our race, made no mistakes and pushed as hard as we could through to the checkered flag.
We had one little setback where we had to pit under a closed pit for fuel when a yellow came out, but apart from that everything was perfect.
Story of the race
I ran a couple of stints out there which were just so much fun. I was battling hard with the Ford GTs and the Risi Ferrari as we charged through traffic.
It really felt like an old-fashioned kart race. Somebody would try a move, get their tires dirty and then struggle a little bit and open up a gap. You would be able to pounce and get through only to find yourself in the same situation a lap or so later.
The best thing was, although we might have traded a little bit of paint, nobody was being silly. We gave each other racing room when we could and continued to race hard.
When you have a stint like that, it goes by so fast. When you are just driving along by yourself, the stints can seem to last a long time, but in the heat of the battle you are almost surprised when you get the call on the radio to pit next lap for a driver change.
Antonio and Mike (Rockenfeller) did an exceptional job all day, but huge credit has to again go to the guys at Corvette Racing.
The strategy and pit stops were perfect yet again and they put us in a position to win the race. When they put Antonio out into the lead, he wasn’t about to give it up in a hurry. Sebring is such an incredible race and it is amazing to have won here five times now.
What was even better was having my family here on site to be able to enjoy the victory too. From the points perspective, the result was awesome and we’re now sitting in second place, just four points off the lead.
We just have to keep executing at every race and stay in contention. Last year didn’t go to plan for us here at Long Beach but we’ll be aiming to repeat our 2014 result when I got the pole and we won the race.
Qualifying is a little more important here because the race is so short. We’ve gone from fighting it out over 36 hours at Daytona and Sebring to just 100 minutes here.
You don’t get a lot of track time and there is a huge gap between when we first run on Friday morning and when we’re back on track in the afternoon. The track can change so much in that time but everyone is in the same boat and we have a few years’ experience now so we know what to expect.
Street circuits are always fun however and this is a race I always look forward to. Interestingly, this is now the only street circuit the GTLM class races on – in fact the WEC and ELMS don’t have any on their calendar either – so this race is quite unique for sportscars.
Starting with the big boys
The change in the start procedure here could also have an effect. With the field all starting back together now, getting a good start can prove to be a huge bonus.
I remember a few years ago Antonio getting a jump on a couple of Prototypes into turn one and being able to open up a handy gap early in the race.
You really have to be at the top of your game in the pits as well. In a one-stop race, you have to make sure everything goes to plan because one small issue can lose you valuable spots and passing is so incredibly tough around here.
While at Sebring, I was able to get plenty of sleep because the Australian Grand Prix was a week later for a change, this week I’ll be up late post-race on Saturday.
Hopefully we’ll have something to celebrate on Saturday night and then I can get ready to watch Kevin’s race for Haas F1 in China.
It is going to be another great weekend of racing for fans around the world. Bring it on!
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