There is always a lot of media coverage when it comes to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Fast cars, fierce competition and well-known drivers tend to attract a bit of attention. But as much as we like hearing about what happened with Corvette Racing at the latest race through the regular media, it’s always a nice surprise when we can get a personal account of the race by one of the drivers themselves, like we found recently on SPEED. Not a snippet of an interview with lame questions like “How do you think you did” or “Who’s your biggest competition today,” but a legitimate narrative of the highs and lows of race day by someone who has made a living driving race cars.
Jan Magnussen is such a driver, making waves behind the wheel of one of Corvette Racing’s C6.R racecars for the past six years. On Saturday April 14th, he piloted the #3 Corvette to a fourth-place finish at Long Beach, finishing behind #4 Corvette drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
Although Magnussen didn’t get the win for Corvette Racing on Saturday, he wrote in his “In the Cockpit” feature that he is proud of his teammates. Not only did Milner get his first ALMS win of his career; both teams worked hard to have the day go down without a hitch.
Unfortunately that didn’t mean there weren’t problems. Antonio Garcia, Magnussen’s co-driver, started out the #4 car at Long Beach, a venue he had never raced at. On the first lap, Garcia encountered a snag where a couple of the LeMans Prototype Challenge cars had gotten together, and with no where to go, he crashed.
The damage was severe, with the nose pushed in, rear diffuser damaged, with both the hood and Gurney flap on the rear wing gone. This caused significant loss in downforce for the car, so the rest of the race both Garcia and Magnussen had to battle a car with no aero. To make matters worse, the air conditioning also broke in the crash so both drivers had to race with the added element of heat.
Without any downforce, Garcia and Magnussen still managed to drive the #4 Corvette to fourth place.
“With a new set of Michelins, the car was actually pretty good and turning competitive times,” Magnussen wrote. “But with no downforce we were sliding all over the track and we wore them out. It was only towards the end when I absolutely used up everything I had and the Ferrari and BMW were able to pull away from me.”
Despite a hairy race, Magnussen praised his team, writing, “Overall, I feel that Corvette Racing’s performance level is better than last year and very close to the competition. With the weather last weekend, it was a matter of which team unloaded best off the truck would win the race. And for sure the Corvettes were the best – that speaks volumes about the engineering team behind Corvette Racing.”
Magnussen’s next race with Corvette Racing won’t be until May when the team hits the track at Laguna Seca. This is an important race for Corvette Racing and their overall ALMS standings for a championship run. While both Corvette Racing teams are cranking out results and the drivers are getting tuned in, more wins this season will come down to a bit of luck according to Magnussen.
“We are just going to have to get better luck on the track and keep getting wins and points and the championships will come to us,” he wrote. “Of course it won’t be easy. The competition in GT is fierce and only getting harder. The Porsches and ESM Ferraris are very fast and have teams that have a good handle on their cars. And of course BMW is always a big factor.”
We look forward to watching Magnussen and the rest of the Corvette Racing crew continue to make their run at the 2012 championship. Before that happens, however, Magnussen will be racing in the Camaro Cup in Scandinavia, as well as cheering his son Kevin on in his first World Series by Renault at Aragon race in Spain.
Best of luck goes out to both Kevin and Jan Magnussen for their upcoming races and we hope to see more personal accounts of the Corvette Racing season from Magnussen in the future.
To read Magnussen’s full Long Beach account, you can visit SPEEDtv.com.