Jan Magnussen: We got royally screwed at Long Beach
Motorsport.com’s Jan Magnussen went from the high of Sebring to the verge of utter dejection in Long Beach, as his Corvette lost the race win at the very last corner thanks to crashing backmarkers…
To be honest, at the end of the race at Long Beach, I had no idea how to react. To be leading and have it fall apart on the last corner of the last lap isn’t a lot of fun.
You’re sitting there watching that unfold and I just couldn’t believe the sequence of events. We did everything we could to try to avoid it and, in the end, we got royally screwed.
Antonio [Garcia, co-driver] was super frustrated, rightly so. It took a little while to calm down after the race. I was walking back from the pits, I didn’t know where to go, it was just a weird feeling.
So when I finally got back to the truck, he was sitting there and I told him please feel free to throw some stuff around. He didn’t know how to react to this either. It was just one of those things, a crazy race.
Up until that point, it had been a pretty good fight back.
Story of the race
My start wasn’t great. We had to go side-by-side through the last corner before the start and I was hoping that the start would happen late so we could get through the corner cleanly before we had to go.
But as soon as I was halfway through the corner I could see that the prototypes had already started going, so I knew I had to go too. But I was on the bumpy part of the track and was bouncing around a little bit so I didn’t get clear of the Ford, so we were side-by-side and toward the end of the straight and he out-dragged me.
And then up the inside came the Ferrari, who had a better getaway than me. I was P3 into Turn 1, which is not ideal at all, but it wasn’t 'race over' by any stretch of the imagination.
I just had to get back into the groove and get going with the race because I knew I had a fast car. But then we got to Turn 5 and the Ferrari tangled up with a prototype and I made a quick decision.
To me, it looked like the prototype was going to spin to the inside, but all the cars got taken to the outside, and that’s where I went, so I got caught behind all three of them.
I was at a complete standstill before I got going again. I was sixth then, and we had a couple of GTDs in the train. That was definitely less than ideal.
The team took advantage of, not the first yellow, but the second one. We came in, did a full service – driver, fuel and tires – and we got shuffled back to the front as people came in for driver changes.
That final corner…
At the end it was looking like it was going to work out for us after all, but the last corner was a problem.
At the end it was kind of an awkward position for Tommy [Milner, in the second Corvette], too, because what do you do? You can’t wait and let the Ford through.
To be honest, nobody would know what to do. Well, now we know what to do but that’s after the fact. It’s one of those things. They couldn’t even red flag it, because a couple of cars had already taken the checker.
Antonio did what he could. He was told to keep it tight because that lane was clear. But, between the time he got the message and the time he got to the corner, two cars had blocked that lane.
He didn’t get the car rotated enough to take advantage of the gap one of the cars had made as soon it started going again. It was just unlucky.
Kevin brightened my mood
It was a pretty disappointing day but later that night my mood got a bit of a boost with Kevin’s great race in China.
That was a hell of a race. He didn’t have the greatest start either but he fought back to finish eighth. In a race like that, that’s a fantastic result. It was not easy at the beginning of the race, but when the track dried out he was fast. Eighth place right now is pretty good!
I think the fight now, for Haas, is to be the fourth best team, behind Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, so if they can finish races somewhere between seventh and tenth, that’s a fantastic result for them.
Kevin just did a fantastic job of staying out of trouble, being aggressive and moving up the field.
So Australia was tough, China was awesome, and then Bahrain didn’t go to plan. It was great to see the team get some points but certainly Kevin is looking forward to more China-style weekends and not so many Australia or Bahrain races.
Focusing on Austin
For Corvette Racing our sights are now set on Austin. COTA has been tough for us every year since we started racing there.
We have had a win, and we’ve been on the podium as well, but it’s not a track that particularly suits the Corvette well.
If the team can do their job like they have, with the pit stops and with the strategy and everything, then we still have a good chance. I don’t think we’ll be fast in qualifying, but we’ll be up there in the race, I’m sure.
Heading back to Denmark
Before that, things kick off at home in Denmark this weekend. We’re running two cars in Danish Thundersports again, with Michael Markussen in the second car, as well as launching a Formula 4 team.
It’s interesting also being part of something like that, it’s a little different than what we’ve been doing, but I really enjoy it.
We’ve got a young kid, Christian Rasmussen in one of the Formula 4s and my old friend Jason Watt’s son Noah in the other car.
It’s cool having Jason around, and being part of the beginning of his son’s career is really cool too.
Jason was on the edge of a Formula 1 career when he broke his back in a motorcycle accident back in 1999. He had just finished second in the Formula 3000 championship and won the final two races of the championship.
Despite being in a wheelchair, he went on to continue racing successfully using hand controls – even winning the Danish Touring Car Championship in 2002.
Now having his son kick off his career in one of our Formula 4 cars is awesome.
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