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Posted: 04/08/14 08:51 AM
CORVETTE RACING AT LONG BEACH: First Street Fight for Corvette C7.R
Looking to turn potential of new GT race car into victory
DETROIT (April 8, 2014) – After the two longest races on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule, Corvette Racing moves to the shortest event on its calendar. The team’s two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs travel to the West Coast for the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase – part of this weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Although the race lasts just 100 minutes, the event typically is one of the most challenging of the season. It’s a sprint through the streets of Long Beach – a 11-turn, 1.968-mile circuit that is playing host to a grand prix weekend for the 40th year.
Corvette Racing has been part of the last seven Long Beach weekends as part of the American Le Mans Series, and the results have been overwhelmingly solid. The team has four victories at the circuit to its credit including two years ago for the duo of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin. A Corvette Racing driver also has set the fastest race lap in class each of the last seven years.
It’s no secret then that Corvette Racing drivers and crew look forward to returning. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen – twice a pole-winner at Long Beach – share the No. 3 Corvette C7.R with Gavin and Milner in the No. 4 Corvette.
Redemption is top of mind for America’s premier production-based sports car team. Both Corvette C7.Rs led significant portions of the TUDOR Championship’s first two rounds at Daytona and Sebring but the results don’t reflect the efforts of the drivers and team.
The No. 4 Corvette of Gavin, Milner and Robin Liddell was the dominant car in class at Sebring, having led a majority of the race before a fuel pressure issue took the car out of contention. Likewise, the No. 3 entry of Garcia, Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe (competing in this weekend’s IndyCar race in a Chevy-powered entry) led at Sebring despite an opening-lap collision and a punctured tire.
Such strong performances underscore the potential of the first-year Corvette C7.R platform. Based on the 2015 Corvette Z06 production car, the C7.R’s rigid frame – which gives the car improved cornering ability and stability – and throttle response from its direct-injection engine make it a contender against entries from the likes of BMW, Ferrari, Porsche and SRT.
Live television coverage of the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase starts at 6 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
The TUDOR Championship is the result of a merger between the ALMS and GRAND-AM’s Rolex Sports Car Series. Corvette Racing will compete in 11 races around North America plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I’ve always like racing at Long Beach, and I enjoy all street circuits. It is an unusual event because the race is short. I don’t know how it will play out this year with the new fueling and capacity regulations. This always has been a one-stop race for us and I believe it could be again. That is the key thing about this race – how the strategy plays and how you work around that. The number of yellows can play a role as well. You can be up front and use a normal strategy but find yourself in a bad situation depending on when the yellow falls. The number of factors and variables here are very, very high.”
(Long Beach methodology) “At Long Beach, you need to run at 100 percent but you have no room for error. The walls are very close and traffic will be a factor. That’s part of the game but I think that’s why I like street circuits. I enjoy that pressure.”
(Start to 2014) “It’s true that we haven’t had a trouble-free start to our season but everyone at Corvette Racing has been analyzing and working on it. I hope Long Beach is a turnaround for us and our season. The Corvette C7.R has shown at both races that it has speed and can run up front.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“Long Beach is a fantastic venue. There is always an incredible show going on during the weekend. The grip level on the track is very good. The Corvette has always been very strong; we’ve not always been super successful but we always have had a shot to win. I’m looking forward to a trouble-free weekend and hopefully we can get back on plan in terms of the championship.”
(Navigating Long Beach) “There is not a lot of runoff. There are some places that have a safety or escape road you can use. But most other places it is just concrete so you have to drive with a bit of a safety margin. But because of the length of the race, you also have to get things done. In certain situations you might be a little more aggressive than normal but you must also bear in mind that there is a bigger risk here than anywhere else.”
(Race expectations) “For us, it’s the first time with the C7.R at Long Beach. There may be a little bit of a learning curve but I think we have a really good handle on it. We should be in good shape right away. The car has been good. We’ve had bad luck at the first two races and we’re due for a good result. We have been up front in both races. Hopefully those things are part of the past and we can concentrate on getting some wins and podiums to get back on track for the championship.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I do like Long Beach and the circuit. The new Corvette C7.R should be strong there, and I know the guys at Corvette Racing have been working on the setup for this weekend. Because we have so little track time, you have to make sure you come off the truck fast. In previous years, we’ve done that very well.”
(Keys to success) “A street circuit can make a little difference to a driver but at the same time you have to say to that you can only drive around in the car you’re given. Sometimes little tweaks and little things in just the right spots can make the difference in having a car on the front row and winning or losing the race. Pace is very, very important there because it’s a short race. You need to qualify well and on top of everything. That’s one of the things Corvette Racing has been good at for so long. We’re hoping for that again this year.”
(Strategy focus): “It’s most probably the one race where it’s all focused on your one pit stop if everything goes well. You have to get it right. You don’t get any second chances because there is no window for a second stop to make up any time or turn your strategy around. Once you do your stop, you’re done and you’re committed. As a driver, you’re mindful that the in-lap and the out-lap are vitally important. There are so many things you have to weigh. In terms of the work level that the driver actually does driving the car is quite short, but it’s very focus. You know that any slip-up is going to make a huge difference on the outcome of your race.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“This weekend is equally important as the first two races at Daytona and Sebring but it’s fun for different reasons. It is so short and goes through downtown Long Beach. It’s definitely a whole different mindset. We have such limited practice time. We go there with a new Chevrolet Corvette C7.R unsure of how the car will be on a tight track like Long Beach. I don’t think it will pose any problems for us. Obviously a new car shows us some new things with how it reacts to setup changes and stuff like that. So far, the new Corvette C7.R has been as good if not better in every area of performance compared to the C6.R. I don’t forsee it being an issue for us, but there are always new things to learn.”
(Corvette strengths) “In years past, it seems like what has helped us at Long Beach has been our braking performance. With the Corvette C7.R, one area where we have improved is putting power down. Those are two pretty crucial parts of having a fast car at Long Beach. So if the power-down is improved like it was at Daytona and Sebring then I think we’ll be pretty good shape for Long Beach.”
(A two-class race) “I’m definitely excited to see what the race will be like with just us and the prototypes. The other classes provide for great racing and the fans like to see that. But after some of the issues the series faced at the first couple of races with some long caution periods, hopefully with two professional categories and drivers racing together that we don’t have too many accidents and put on a good show for the fans.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“After two long-distance races to open our season, we head to Long Beach for close-quarters racing on the streets of southern California. We have clearly shown that the pace of the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is promising; unfortunately, the results so far do not do reflect our performance or efforts. There is no better place to break through than Long Beach. The Grand Prix is one of racing's premier events and provides an incredible atmosphere for sports car racing with huge crowds throughout the weekend. We're fully prepared to give all the Chevrolet and Corvette fans in southern California our fifth victory at Long Beach!”