Corvette Racing has swept the IMSA GTLM Manufacturer’s, team and driver’s titles with a second place finish in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and third pilot Mike Rockenfeller drove the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, putting a Bowtie on the day. The No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler placed fourth in a nail-biting late-race comeback.
This is Corvette racing’s 12th Team, 11th Driver championships and second straight sweep of the IMSA GTLM titles.
For Magnussen and Garcia, this is their 2nd driver’s title since 2013. The Garcia/Magnussen pairing claimed three class victories this season entering today’s race at Road Atlanta, having won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as well as GTLM rounds at Circuit of The Americas and Virginia International Raceway.
They also finished third at Watkins Glen. Magnussen also was ALMS GT1 Driver’s Champion in 2008 with Corvette Racing.
“This championship was absolutely a team effort,” said Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, General Motors. “The drivers, crew members and engineers were versatile and adaptable, and everybody on the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team contributed throughout the season. Jan and Antonio were consistent, smart behind the wheel and took advantage of opportunities when it mattered most. This was a hard-earned championship.”
The famed 10-hour endurance race in the hills of Northern Georgia was a thriller. The top seven GTLM cars finished on the lead lap, and rarely were separated by more than 30 seconds. Six different cars led in GTLM over the 392 laps, clocking a distance of just under 1,000 total miles.
The No. 3 Corvette led four times, gaining position with great pit work and strategy. A late stop for fuel and tires put Garcia, who started and finished the race, into second place after entering the pits third. That solidified Chevrolet’s hold on the Manufacturer Championship with 50 minutes left.
Garcia ended one second back from the winning BMW with Milner only 21 seconds further back, and said, “I really cannot expect anything else. We gave it all we had until the last lap. Actually for a moment, I thought I had some chances for a win when an hour before I thought it was done. That is the spirit of Corvette Racing.
That has been the spirit all year long. We never give up. Big thanks to Jan and the whole crew. They really kept motivating me. That is part of their job and I am very thankful for that. Big thanks to Team Chevy, the whole Corvette Racing team and the whole Corvette community. I think other than maybe Long Beach, this was a perfect season, so thank you all!”
Jan Magnussen was elated. “A fantastic day and a fantastic race. The whole category has been so close all day long. It was difficult to really make a difference out there… to pass people. You kind of had to wait for mistakes, but nobody made mistakes.
Traffic could sort of play into it, so it was kind of waiting for the right place and the right time to take advantage. We had great strategy. Beating the 67 Ford out on that last stop was very important. That Ford got taken out by a prototype later on, but it was important for us to get out ahead if for nothing else than to prove a point.”
Third Driver Mike Rockefeller, who drove with the championship winners three times this year, was equally thrilled with the great result, “Congrats to Corvette Racing. It’s amazing what they achieved this year, especially Antonio and Jan; they had a fantastic year to win the Driver Championship.
The Manufacturer Championship was secured for Chevrolet so I think we fulfilled almost everything this weekend. It’s been a good year with Corvette Racing. The three races I did were really strong. The win at Sebring was really strong and very competitive. At Daytona we were strong, just not quite enough to win. And here at Petit Le Mans we were in the hunt for the victory.
So I am I am very happy, and I hope I can be back with the team. I did my best to help as much as I can. It’s not always easy to jump in as the third driver without so much seat time, but my teammates help me a lot. It is just great to be part of Corvette Racing and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Corvette Racing and Chevrolet have recorded 106 victories – 98 in the IMSA ranks. Both are North American professional sports car racing records. Among those 106 victories are eight at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, three in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and 11 in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opens with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28.