Corvette Racing Captures Fifth Win Of Season At VIR, Magnussen, Garcia Shine In Michelin GT Challenge
Sunday, August 28, 2016

Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia kept the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R up front throughout most of Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, and then prevailed in a one-lap sprint to the checkered flag to win their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the season.

After watching their team cars combine to win seven of eight races in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) this season the No. 3 Corvette and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 Ford GT co-driven by Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller battled up front throughout the lone WeatherTech Championship race of the season reserved for the GTLM and GT Daytona classes.

Magnussen led the opening 28 laps after starting from the pole. Garcia then paced 56 laps, including the final 27, with the lead Corvette only relinquishing the lead for six laps during pit stops. The race was slowed by only one full-course caution for a late incident involving Oliver Gavin in the championship-leading No. 4 Corvette C7.R. On the restart, Garcia was able to pull away in a one-lap sprint to beat Mueller to the checkered flag by 0.802 seconds.

“It was a very hard race,” Garcia said. “My team got me a three- to four-second gap, and then it was a classic green and white/checkered. It was an amazing race and the Corvette was brilliant. It really paid off to be out testing on Monday and Tuesday (at Road Atlanta), because the car was fantastic.”

Hand qualified third, but took second place on the opening lap, with the Ford GT shadowing the winning Corvette for virtually the entire 90-lap race. Mueller and Hand are still seeking their initial GTLM victory of the season, but they won their class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“The team did once again a tremendous job in the pit; we had to really rush it at my driver change, but it all went well,” Mueller said.  “Then, it was about 1 hour, 50 minutes of me with the Corvette – running one qualifying lap after another. Basically, the only decider was traffic. I got caught in traffic and soon the gap was just too big. I increased the pressure at the end. My Ford GT was running like a rocket ship today, and the Michelin tires were holding on. It was a 100-percent run today.”

Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook finished fourth in the three-time winning No. 67 Ford GT. With two rounds remaining in 2016 competition, Gavin and co-driver Tommy Milner unofficially lead Briscoe and Westbrook by seven points, 287-280.

“Definitely not our day – I guess some of the racing luck we’ve had balances out,” said Milner. “These are the kind of days that you want to prevent. But I’m really happy for our teammates – the manufacturer championship is number one for us at Corvette Racing. When we falter, they pick up the slack, and they did a fantastic job today. Well deserved, for sure.”

Giancarlo Fisichella was nearly in position to repeat his thrilling last-lap victory for Risi Competizione from 2014 at VIR. Running third on the final restart, Fisichella spun in the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE co-driven by Toni Vilander after contact in Turn 1. As a result, Earl Bamber took third in the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR started by Frederic Makowiecki, while the Ferrari finished seventh.

View full results via Al Kamel Systems at Results.IMSA.com

NOTEBOOK

  • In a strategic move, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing elected to change tires on the fourth place-qualifying No. 67 Ford GT prior to the race. As a result, Westbrook started from the back of the 21-car grid.
  • The last time Corvette Racing qualified 1-2 in its class was for an ALMS race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2012, when Jan Magnussen and Oliver Gavin led GT qualifying. In addition to having its cars qualify 1-2 for the first time in WeatherTech Championship race, Sunday marked the first time Corvette Racing had its cars on the front row overall for a race.

“Today’s start presents us with a situation our team has never experienced, with our No. 3 and No. 4 cars side-by-side at the front of the entire pack,” said Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan before the race. “I’m looking forward to seeing those two yellow cars coming down the front straightaway and taking the green flag. Hopefully, we will see them in that same position when the checkered flag flies.”

  • The No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT team earned the DEKRA Green Award. The award recognizes the cleanest, fastest and most efficient team in the GTLM class in each race through a scoring system developed in a partnership between IMSA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy and SAE International.
  • The next round of the WeatherTech Championship is the Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Sept. 17. All four classes will be in action for the two-hour, 40-minute race, which will be televised live on FS2.

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