July 22, 2017, by Kay Presto, www.carsandcompetition.com —
Corvette Racing extended its lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Le Mans (GTLM) standings Saturday with a fourth-place finish for Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
The pairing – in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – now lead the Driver’s Championship by seven points, and Chevrolet increased its lead in the Manufacturer’s standings to four points after seven of 11 events. Garcia also set the fastest lap of the race to earn one critical bonus point.
The No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner finished eighth after early-race contact on the rough-and-tumble circuit. The No. 4 Corvette was forced to return to the paddock twice for repairs – an example of the never-give-up attitude that defines Corvette Racing.
“I’m pretty disappointed to have another race where we don’t finish. It would be nice for us to have a clean race here for once,” Milner said. “It’s hard to tell what happened there. It looked like the Ford checked up earlier than I expected; I tried whatever I could to not hit him but that probably caused more problems. I’m sorry for those guys. I never want to be involved in an accident like that and take somebody else out of the race.”
Magnussen started sixth and drove the first 51 minutes before handing off to Garcia from fourth place. Garcia rejoined in fifth and eventually cycled through to the lead as different pit stop strategies emerged into the final hour. The No. 3 Corvette pitted from first with 47 minutes left and was one of the final GTLM cars to stop for fuel and fresh Michelin tires.
The strategy very nearly paid off with a podium finish, but the tight confines of Lime Rock and traffic stymied Garcia’s changes.
“I fought hard to get by the No. 24 car but I also knew that wasn’t the car we are fighting for in the championship,” Garcia said. “There were some moments where he cut me off late and almost spun himself out. Luckily nothing happened. I tried everything I could. Their car for sure was out of tires at the end and the car was very wide. The way the strategy worked, we had better tires on lighter fuel. I’m very happy with today. A podium was possible but we did all we could. It is great to get the fastest lap and the bonus point. Having that made me think a little bit how aggressive I needed to be at the end.”
Magnussen said the race was a great job by the team on strategy. “Antonio gave it everything he had. It was a fantastic race at the end between him and the 24 car. Fourth place is good for the points as the 25 and 66 were behind us. It would have been great to be on the podium but it wasn’t in the cards. Now on to Road America and hopefully a return to the podium.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase from Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The race is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. CT on Sunday, Aug. 6.