Corvette Racing at Road America: A Pair of Podium Finishes
Second and third for Compuware Corvettes; Gavin and Milner regain drivers’ title lead
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Corvette Racing scored two podium finishes Sunday at Road America in the Orion Energy Systems 245. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen placed second in the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, driving the No. 4 Compuware Corvette, finished third.
The race, shown to a nationwide audience live on ABC, marked the first time this season that the two Corvettes finished on the podium in the same race. Even more importantly, the results provided a major boost for the drivers, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet in the ALMS GT championships.
Gavin and Milner, defending GT champions, moved back into the lead in the driver standings. Garcia and Magnussen unofficially are third but only six points out of the championship lead.
Chevrolet solidified its lead in the manufacturer standings, as did Corvette Racing in the team championship.
“The Corvette Racing drivers and team exhibited terrific teamwork on the track and in the pits, and with race strategy to claim two podium positions in the American Le Mans Series at Road America,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The team’s never-give-up approach will bode well as we go into the final races of the season. It was a great points day for Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin as they reclaimed the lead in the ALMS GT driver standings. Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia also improved their standing, as well.”
Endurance racing is a true team sport, and that played out again Sunday. The Corvette Racing pit crew executed two perfect stops during the race’s penultimate full-course caution period. The two Corvettes entered the pits running seventh and eighth in class. with 90 minutes remaining but left pitlane first and third.
The race began on a wet track with Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette and Milner in the No. 4. Both Corvettes, like the rest of the field, began on wet tires. Both Magnussen and Milner ran aggressive yet cautious stints in the beginning before both cars went to slick tires at the 40-minute mark. From that point, strategy and some of the best pit work in the ALMS took over.
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Grand Prix of Baltimore on Aug. 30-31 from the Baltimore Inner Harbor street circuit. Gavin and Milner placed second there last season, and Gavin and Magnussen teamed for a third-place finish in 2011.
Grand Prix of Baltimore (all times ET) Practice 1: 8:50 a.m., Friday, Aug. 30
Practice 2: 12:05 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 GT Qualifying: 4:50 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30
Warmup: 10:10 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 31
Race: 3:45 p.m., Saturday Aug. 31
Grand Prix of Baltimore: Watch It!
Friday, Aug. 30-Saturday, Aug. 31 (all times ET)
Qualifying: 4:20 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30 (ESPN3)
Race (Web): 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31 (ESPN3)
Race (TV): Noon, Sunday, Sept. 1 (ABC)
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
HOW MUCH DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU COULD PUSH IN THAT LAST STINT: “I had a really good restart and was making a lot of gap to the guys. When I saw the Viper coming, I held him off for like four or five laps and I was thinking, ‘no problem’. But the problem was right when he was catching me, my engineers were telling me I need to save fuel. I said ‘All right’, so I was saving fuel but going fast. I was kind of trying to guess how much fuel I needed to save. At some point Marc (Goossens) got a really good run out of Turn 3, and at some point I was asking on the radio should I defend or should I just let him go by. That’s what I did basically. They told me it was more important to save fuel than to keep the position. And then it was a matter of just holding back, just trying to save as much fuel as possible. I knew that Ollie (Oliver Gavin) was under pressure from the Porsches as well, so we were managing that gap too. I was really aggressive on the brakes in the traffic just trying to make a gap. Then as soon as we had a gap, went just went back toward them again. I think that is what we could do. I don’t know exactly if we were good or not (on fuel at the end); I think we were right on. The thing is that I wouldn’t risk it. I think we were probably better than the Viper, but I believed I should have kept that result. I preferred to keep Corvette two-three and in good position for the championship.”
HOW SURPRISED WERE YOU TO COME OFF PIT LANE IN P1 FROM THAT STOP? “I knew after all the pit stops came that we were the guys changing four slicks the latest, and we were almost leading the guys that came in the previous time the latest so I knew we had some advantage and fuel there. We needed just to do 13-14 seconds of fuel plus the tires, so we really needed to be sure that driver change was good. Everything went smooth. Fuel, tire change was perfect and I just remember launching myself out of the pits seeing the Ferrari just come in, and I just a half of a car ahead, or something like. So that put us into one-three at the moment. I was like…that is what I said yesterday after qualifying: When it comes to race time, Corvette Racing is the best that a driver can ever have. So, that is the thing.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
ON THE CHALLENGE OF THE FIRST HOUR: “It was a difficult beginning of the race with the wet track. But it was not super wet so I don’t think the wets (tires) really got up to working 100 percent. The balance of the car wasn’t great or right to begin with. Everybody was pulling away from us quite a bit. Then it seemed like the car and the tires came in, and we were doing pretty well for ourselves. But making the decision to go to slicks was really hard for me to make because the wets which don’t give you a good feel for what is going on. You can feel the grip is improving, but is it improving enough for slicks? And also just looking at the track, it wasn’t clear-cut dry or not dry, so you really have to rely on other people making the decision for you. Fortunately some guys down the back made the first move – it was wrong. So good thing we didn’t follow those guys. But when we did make the move for slicks, it was definitely the right time. So that worked out well. There was a lot of pressure from Tommy (Milner) throughout the stint when we were on the slicks.
“Then there was one absolutely fantastic pit stop from the Corvette guys! We came in seventh and eighth, and out one-three. That is unbelievable. So fantastic… absolutely fantastic. After that, Antonio drove under extreme pressure – saving fuel; trying to go fast… two things that are really, really hard to do at the same time. Overall it was a fantastic job for the whole team.
“I don’t know had we not had that yellow at the end what would have happened. We were very, very close on fuel. I have a feeling the Vipers were even closer. So who knows? But when the safety car came out right there at the end, there was a big sigh of relief from the whole team. It was ‘OK, now we have second’. I am sure we would have gone for it (if the race had restarted), but would we have won doing it or blown it?”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
ON THE RACE: “The race today was pretty hard. First of all Tommy (Milner) came in and we were seventh and eighth, and the guys just did a fabulous job with the tire stop, the fuel and everything. We went in eighth position, and came out third, and our sister car (No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R) came out in the lead! That is just a spectacular job by the guys. Just amazing that pit stop. At the restart, the (No. 62) Ferrari was pretty racy into Turn 1 and he tried to squeeze me as we came off. We just rubbed all the way down to Turn 3; I got by him and then I was up behind Antonio (Garcia) but the (No. 91) Viper was coming. It was quick. It just had a bit too much pace for us today.
“I was being told, ‘Save fuel, save fuel, save fuel.’ I was doing the best I could. The Porsche was catching us and catching us. They’ve got super straight-line speed so that was tough. In the end there, I think we were good to go with the fuel. I was wondering if everybody else was going to be in the same spot or not. I know we could have gone to the end, but I don’t know if the Viper could, whether the Porsche could or anybody else. We had done our job in doing that. The guys were fantastic in the pits. Tommy did a spectacular job of getting it through in very tricky conditions in the wet weather. So all-in-all it was a great team effort by everybody here at Corvette Racing.”
ON BEING TOLD TO SAVE FUEL: “You have to figure out your routine on how to do it and the way you are going to go about doing it. Where you are going to lift, where you are going to brake and how you are going to do it. I was working really hard with (engineer) Chuck (Houghton). It was frustrating, and a couple of times we were adjusting the engine map, and the Porsche was catching us, and Chuck was telling me, ‘Go back! Go back!’ The Porsche was so close. It was just one of those ones where it was nail-biting every single lap. You could not take your attention away, or ever think ‘We’ve got this now; we’ve got everything under control’, because everything was just in flux; right on the limit, and right on the balance the whole race. Sometimes that’s the way it is, and everybody on the team worked so hard.”
ON REGAINING DRIVER CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD: “That is just fantastic. Of all the things that could have happened today, to get the points lead back, and to extend our lead in the manufacturers’ championship, that is spectacular. This is a huge win-win… we didn’t win the race, but in terms of the actual bigger picture, it’s been a great day for us.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R
ON THE RACE: “We knew that the race would be dry toward the end. We didn’t do anything to the car to try to help it in the wet, so we actually struggled early on. It made it very difficult to keep the car underneath me. It was very loose the entire time in the wet conditions. It is tough here to tell when this track dries up; it is not very easy to see when the lines are drying and when they are still wet. So on that (first) yellow flag, we probably could have switched it to dry tires right then, but I wasn’t too sure, and didn’t want to gamble on that and then throw the race away. So we stayed out which hurt us a little bit there for awhile. But the car was really, really good on slicks in the dry again. I knew if we could just get Oliver in the car and get that last pit stop out of the way, we would be in good shape.
“I could have never imagined to go from basically eighth place to third place in the pits. Oliver did a great job on the restart and got second. So really, today’s result is thanks to Corvette Racing, the pit stops and the strategy that was played to perfection. The Viper definitely was quick today. Congrats to them. They’ve done an awesome job all year long so far. They’ve been right there, and they put one together. I know what that feels like; it is obviously very exciting for them. We’ve got a race on our hands for the rest of the year. They are quick, and we are quick. Porsche is quick; BMW is quick. It is going to be a big fight to the end.”
ON BEING THE POINTS LEAD – IS IT BETTER TO LEAD OR BE CHASING WITH A FEW RACES TO GO? “It can go either way. I think we all kind of approach each weekend as its own separate championship. We want to win that race, and if we can’t win, we want to finish as high as we possibly can. If you just focus on one race at a time, the championship takes care of itself. All we did today was not get too worried about the fact we were in seventh and eighth at the back. We were more focused on how do we make the best out of our race today. What is our best strategy. We did that. Here we are in third place, points lead. Everything is going the way it should right now.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“This race marks the middle of our 15th season in the American Le Mans Series. In those 14 1/2 years, I don’t remember an event where a pair of pit stops had the impact on the outcome that it did today. The 3 and 4 car came in seventh and eighth, and they went out first and third. That’s all-world, and that’s what we do at Corvette Racing.”
Release Date: August 11, 2013