Chevy Racing–CORVETTE RACING AT VIR: A 10th ALMS Team Championship

CORVETTE RACING AT VIR: A 10th ALMS Team Championship
Garcia/Magnussen 3rd, Gavin/Milner 6th on title-winning day
ALTON, Va. (Oct. 5, 2013) – For the 10th time in the 15 years of the American Le Mans Series, Corvette Racing can lay claim to an ALMS team championship. Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen finished third in the Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway in their No. 3 Compuware Chevrolet Corvette C6.R to clinch both the ALMS manufacturer and team titles with one round of the series to go.
The result moved Garcia and Magnussen ahead in the drivers’ standings by 18 points with 24 available at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans in two weeks.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 3 Compuware Corvette placed sixth on an up-and-down day that saw the cars begin the race eighth and ninth on the GT grid. Once again, clever strategy and engineering plus quick pitwork allowed the two yellow Corvettes to march toward the front early.
Garcia made a steady and sometimes aggressive charge to the race lead by the end of his stint. The Spaniard displayed many of the same skills in traffic that delivered a Corvette Racing victory in the previous ALMS round at Circuit of The Americas. He handed the C6.R over to Magnussen with a little more than an hour left, and the Dane drove a measured stint the rest of the way.
Meanwhile in the No. 4 car, Gavin had a rough-and-tumble two hours that saw him work his way into the top-five at one point before multiple incidents of contact and a one-minute penalty after colliding with a GT Challenge Porsche just after the one-hour mark. Gavin handed off to Milner with 60 minutes left, and the Virginia native moved up quickly through the field to fourth late in the race. As the final 10 minutes of the race clicked away, Miler and the No. 56 BMW became involved in a dicey fight. The pair battled to the checkered flag which saw the No. 4 car settling for the sixth finishing position.
The 2013 American Le Mans Series closes with Petit Le Mans on Saturday, Oct. 19 from Road Atlanta. The 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance race will air live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.
EDITORS: High-resolution images of Corvette Racing are available on the Team Chevy media site for editorial use only.
“After yesterday, we knew would be a hard race. We knew that if we didn’t have ultimate pace, we would focus on at least having a good car for the race. We worked on not having a lot of tire degradation, and that’s what saved us on race pace. We definitely needed to move up quickly, and Olly (Gavin) and I did at the start. Even when we fell back early after the first stop, I was able to muscle back toward the front. Our Corvette was very good, and our pace was really good. That’s what allowed us to catch and pass people, sometimes very aggressively. We needed to keep moving forward. Overall, we had a nice car and good stops.
“Even if we couldn’t win, we ended up with really good points. The most important thing is that we wrapped up the manufacturer championship for Chevrolet and the team title for Pratt & Miller. That is a great goal and I am very happy we were able to win these championships for them.”
“Antonio did a fantastic job in his first two stints. When I got in the car, I really felt like there was a lot on the line. I couldn’t risk anything – there could be no penalties or anything. We had to lock up the manufacturer championship, and we could do that by finishing ahead of the BMWs. That was the number one goal. I was far from as aggressive as I normally would have been. It was difficult because you definitely lose a little bit of your edge. I had to defend a couple times on the BMW; he was fast in some places and I was faster. Every time I got a gap over him, something would happen and he would catch right back up. It was tough, but I’m happy for Chevrolet. I’m happy for Corvette Racing. It’s great to get both these championships today.”
“Now we go to Petit Le Mans with a good margin (in the drivers’ championship). We can relax a little bit, and the pressure is on the 56 car to win or finish second. If we score even just a few points, I think we will have it.”
“Today was quite a tough day. Every way I seemed to turn, there was contact or people hitting me. The track is so narrow and slick at times with the different amounts of dust and rubber on it; it makes for a very tricky surface to race on. The first stop was a great job by the guys to get us from almost last to almost first. But after that, something silly would always happen. Our car wasn’t great toward the second stop; we were on the harder tire, and the car was nervous, skating around and wasn’t hooked up. The thought was to get through my stint, hand over to Tommy, we’ll make some changes and we’d move on from there. But I got blocked by a slower GTC car and caught another slow car at the end of the backstraight. He blocked me all the way down to the last corner before pit entry. He stopped on both apexes and we had contact. We ended up both spinning, I fell back and then had to serve the penalty. It was super-frustrating. Fortunately we got a caution and got Tommy in the car. He did a great job all the way to the end under difficult conditions. For sure, the BMW was blocking him but the officials didn’t want to look at it that way.
“It’s been a rough day and weekend for the No. 4 car. But it’s a great day to come away with a great result in winning the manufacturer and team championships. The manufacturer title is the main goal for the whole year. Everyone is and should be happy about that. All in all and in the bigger picture, it’s been a great day considering how we started. The crews were fantastic in the pitlane and delivered.”
“Oliver had a really tough two hours. But after all that trouble in Oliver’s stint, I got in and came out right on the tail end of the lead lap with a car that was still pretty quick. I was chomping at the bit to go chase after some guys. I had fun for awhile there – passing some of the other GT competitors and getting into the race. I was quick initially and then settled in with five other cars and we ran together for awhile. At the end, Dirk (Muller) flat-out blocked me and it should have been a penalty. In the end, we are ALMS GT manufacturer and team champions, so that’s not a bad way to end the day.”
“I spend a lot of time not only in Europe but among the people that run and organize (Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship), and to a man they look at the ALMS as the most competitive GT racing in the world. I think you would have a difficult time arguing that if you look at every race this year – including all day here at VIR. We were eighth and ninth on the grid, and they were many out there who would have written us off. We have been in that position before. The beauty of continuity and keeping a team together over the years is that you develop an inner strength that galvanizes the team to an extent that makes you literally unbeatable. This is a team that does not give up despite all the odds. We took a car that qualified eighth and ninth, but ran up front with both of them. That is a testament to the team Gary (Pratt, team manager), the drivers and the crew.”
“This means everything to us. Our number one goal when we start at Sebring is the manufacturers’ championship. Once we get that, we go on to the drivers and team championships. When you execute like the guys did today and have a good strategy –even though we aren’t the fastest car, somehow we get it done with great pit stops. We have what we think are the best drivers in the paddock; they execute and do a great job e
very single race. Chevrolet expects a lot out of us, and we just try to deliver. There is a lot of good engineering and a great group of mechanics and crew chiefs that execute in the shop, in the paddock and in the pits. Sometimes it looks easy but it’s really not.
“I also want to thank Chevrolet. We started in 1999 doing just the endurance races. They were patient, let us build the team and get experience. We didn’t have a lot of engineering on staff but we were able to go out and get Doug Louth and Lynn Bishop as our head engineers. That mix of good engineering, great mechanics and good drivers has really paid off. Corvette is a great product to start with. And the patience from Chevrolet with us to build the team and allow us to continue to do this after this many years really puts us in a big advantage.”