Corvette Racing moved a step closer toward its return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona over the weekend with a successful three-day test at Daytona International Speedway. Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R set the weekend’s second-best time for the GT Le Mans class during the Roar Before the 24 with a 1:45.743 (121.200 mph). It’s the annual test that serves as the last tune-up before the opening round of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Gavin partners with full-season teammate Tommy Milner and Robin Liddell in the No. 4 Corvette for the Rolex 24. Jan Magnussen was third-fastest in the class with a 1:45.792 (121.143 mph) in the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette he shares with Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe. Both Corvettes set their fastest times in Friday’s opening session.
The three days in Daytona Beach were focused on constant development and establishing a baseline setup on the Corvette C7.Rs, which will make their competition debuts for the twice-around-the-clock race on Jan. 25-26. The Corvette Racing crew progressed through a comprehensive list of settings and adjustments on the high banks at Daytona.
Sunday’s two sessions were the final ones before Corvette Racing and its two new-for-2014 Corvette C7.Rs return for the 52nd running of the Rolex 24. The event is an important part of Corvette Racing history for multiple reasons. In the team’s last appearance at Daytona, Corvette Racing won the 2001 race overall with a Corvette C5-R. The Rolex 24 also was the site of Corvette Racing’s debut on Jan. 31, 1999. Since that first event, the team has competed in 150 other events around the globe with 90 victories worldwide, 10 team and manufacturer championships in the ALMS and seven victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The TUDOR Championship is the result of a merger between the ALMS and GRAND-AM’s Rolex Sports Car Series. Corvette Racing will compete in 11 races around North America plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“So far we have been running our development program and learning everything we can on the car. Being here and racing here for the first time in many years, we don’t have any backup data on how the C6.R performed here. It is brand new for us, but everything has gone very well. Being a new car, we don’t know if we will lack any information or experience here. The way the car has run, it’s obvious everything is evolution from the C6.R and it’s progressing well. Part of our focus was getting Ryan comfortable, and we wanted to help him with any questions he had. At end of the day, he is a professional driver and has fit in very well.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“For us it this was an important weekend. It has been a productive couple days. This was the first time we got a chance to see how we stack up against the rest of our competition. But the main program has been to continue the development of the car. Come race time, hopefully we will be where we need to be. It’s still early days but everyone will be very close during the race â€“ as it has always been in GT racing. We’ve run through several of our development packages with the new car and gotten Ryan up to speed with the team and the car. It’s all gone well. It’s very exciting what’s going on with the merger of the two series. I think everything looks great with a really cool field of cars. It’s different for me this time as it is the beginning of a championship. Usually all the other years I’ve been here, I’ve been a third driver. Now there is more on the line than trying to win the Rolex 24. For sure this is the start of a long, hard championship.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
” “The car was a lot of fun to drive. I would say it exceeded expectations on grip level, handling and overall performance. The team worked great, and it was a fantastic experience. I got plenty of miles in the car and came away feeling very comfortable. I did my first run Friday, and that was a great chance to get a good impression. The next time I got in, I felt like my lap times were becoming competitive. I was able to start feeling balance changes. We actually went through quite a bit of setup work over the three days. For me, the good thing was getting out there and being used to the car with traffic, in different temperatures and a couple different tire compounds from Michelin. It was really good getting a feel for the car in the all the situations we will face in the race. I feel like I checked all the boxes.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“This has been a pretty good test. It was a little unusual in that the conditions were very cold for the first two days. That was a little bit of a challenge trying to get the car right. We’ve managed to get it comfortable and nice to drive. Every driver has been through in the car and got to a good level of comfort. We are still looking to improve it in areas, but I think we have our base setup for here. Let’s see what the weather does for that week at the end of the month. You’re never really too sure how that’s going to turn out. Today, it was a good 10-15 degrees warmer than anything we saw the first two days.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“I think we are in good shape for the race. Throughout all of the testing that we’ve done so far, the car has been reliable. The same was the case here. It was quick and it was reliable. We had no real mechanical issues that – on the surface – that we should be worried about come race time. All in all, it was a great three days for us. This was a great test for us.”
ROBIN LIDDELL, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R
“It’s been a very productive test. Having done this event enough times, you get a sense for how these type things go. We’re working toward our own agenda and making sure the car is comfortable and consistent for a 24-hour race. With additional classes, it’s the Daytona 24 Hours of old. It’s important for all of us to keep focus on the bigger picture. This team has huge amounts of experience and fantastic results and achievements in the past. They know how to win races. The car feels very good, well-balanced in the infield, good under braking. At this point, I think we are very happy with things. It was a little frustrating with the number of red-flag periods and traffic, it’s quite helpful in terms of getting accustomed to how things will go during the race.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER
“Coming into the Roar, Corvette Racing had a very comprehensive test program in place. The constant change in weather conditions was a challenge, as was dealing with the number of on-track incidents. However that is the nature of endurance racing. We are satisfied with the work that the team accomplished and feel like we are on solid ground for the race in three weeks.”
(Corvette Racing, photo: LAT/Dole)