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CORVETTE RACING AT DAYTONA: Final Dress Rehearsal for Rolex 24
Solid start for new Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs in Roar Before the 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan 5, 2014) – 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.
EDITORS: High-resolution images of Corvette Racing are available on the Team Chevy media site for editorial use only.
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 – 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 Michelins. 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 History at Daytona
CORVETTE DPs AT DAYTONA: Fittipaldi Sets Prototype Pace in Roar Testing
No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP leads Chevrolet contingent in testing for Rolex 24
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 5, 2014) – The final on-track preparations for Chevrolet’s Corvette Daytona Prototype teams are complete ahead of the opening round of the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Christian Fittipaldi in Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Corvette DP set the fastest time for the three-day Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway – the annual test that serves a dress rehearsal for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Fittipaldi’s best time of 1:38.630 (129.940 mph) came in the Roar’s opening session Friday morning. The Brazilian led a contingent of Corvette DPs that held five of the six fastest speeds during the three days.
"We applied everything that we learned in the sessions we had prior to today – once in November and twice in the beginning of December," said Fittipaldi, who drove with full-season teammate Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais. "The car felt pretty good. I think that the track conditions were a little bit strange (with the changing weather). We need to make the best of it because when it comes down to race time, maybe we are going to have exactly the same stuff out there. I have raced here before where we have had even colder weather. So we pretty much need to be prepared for all kinds of stuff out there."
Richard Westbrook was second-quickest on the weekend in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP with a 1:38.989 (129.549 mph) lap. He drives with full-season teammate Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller.
"It has been a very productive three days at Daytona for the Corvette Daytona Prototype teams in preparation for the Rolex 24 Hour race, said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet TUDOR Championship Daytona Prototype Program Manager. "All of the teams had the opportunity to work with the latest technical regulations IMSA has put in place thus far for the class. Every driver for each of the teams was able to get ample seat time throughout the three-day test.
"Additionally, the varying weather conditions have allowed the teams to work on setup for the numerous scenarios that can occur during the race. We know we will have to adjust to the final set of regulations prior to the race, but our Chevrolet teams made great progress during the weekend, and we feel like we have the reliability and preparation necessary for the race."
Chevrolet enters this year’s Rolex 24 off two consecutive DP engine manufacturer titles in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. The championship merged with the American Le Mans Series to create the TUDOR Championship, which features DPs as part of the top-level prototype class.
As the season continues following the Rolex 24 Hours the Corvette DP teams – Action Express, Spirit of Daytona, 2013 DP team champion Wayne Taylor Racing, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing and Marsh Racing – will lead Chevrolet’s fight for additional victories and championships. Chevrolet ended Rolex Series competition with 20 Daytona Prototype victories – 16 by Corvette DPs since it debuted in 2011 – and nine in GT. The Bowtie brand also captured DP engine manufacturer championships in both 2012 and 2013, plus the 2011 GT title.
EDITORS: High-resolution images of Corvette Racing are available on the Team Chevy media site for editorial use only.
RICHARD WESTBROOK, NO. 90 SPIRIT OF DAYTONA CORVETTE DP
HOW DO YOU FEEL THE THREE DAYS OF TESTING HAVE GONE? "We have turned up with a really good car, and the team is working just great. I just have to really thank all the boys on the team. The new staff as well. Everything seems to be clicking into place. We've just kept our head down, fine-tuned and the results seem to be coming toward us. We have a really nice, comfortable car to drive that seems to be quick. Just really nice working with the two Michaels - Mike (Rockenfeller) and Michael (Valiante). There is a great atmosphere in the team. Looking forward to the 24 (Hours)."
IS IT GOOD FOR THE TEAM WHEN YOU TEST IN SUCH VARYING TEMPERATURES AND WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR THE RACE? "What was very encouraging is normally in our car, we're not very good in the heat. The hotter it gets, the worse we get. The car felt really good when it got hot. That is really encouraging."
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP
TALK ABOUT THE PROGRESS MADE WITH THE CAR HERE DURING THE THREE-DAY ROAR: "This is our first test really with all the updates. We did a test in December with half of the updates for the car, so now these three days we've really spent a lot of time getting to know what the car is going to be like this year. For the drivers, there is a little bit to get used to – mainly with braking. But for the engineers and the crew, they had a lot more to do just to understand the car; how it works and how to prepare for a 24-hour race. I think we did learn a lot. All the drivers are now comfortable in the cars. I think the crew has a much better understanding of what it is going to do for 24 hours and I think it makes us a lot more excited now that we know what to expect going into the 24 Hour."
MENTALLY WHAT DO YOU DO BETWEEN NOW AND WHEN YOU JUMP IN THE CAR FOR THE FIRST PRACTICE OF THE RACE WEEKEND? "We have data to go over. I think the biggest thing is mentally preparing for the long race. Obviously physical training. We have a lot of data to go over for drivers to get to know: maybe I am losing a little bit here; maybe I'm a little bit better there. On-board cameras to study. I always like to watch the previous year's race so every time I am around the TV, I'll turn it on to watch it and learn interesting passing places that you wouldn't really think of – where people are usually going off; where they are making passes in traffic. You can learn a lot from historical races."
RICKY TAYLOR, NO. 10 WAYNE TAYLOR RACING CORVETTE DP
TALK ABOUT THE CHANGING WEATHER DURING THE TEST AND HOW THAT HELPS PREPARING THE CAR FOR POSSIBILITIES DURING THE RACE: "It has helped the drivers I think. The team focuses on mostly the weather conditions that are going to be related to the race conditions. But the drivers through the 24 Hour go from daytime when it is normally warm, to nighttime and it is freezing cold, then to daytime when it warms up again. No matter what the car is setup to do, we have to be able to deal with all the conditions. We got a bit of everything this weekend, so if we have a car setup for the cold, we know what that is going to be like in the cold and then to the hot. And vice versa; if we have a car setup for the hot, we know what it is going to be like in the cold. So we know how to drive a good car and a bad car."
THERE ARE FOUR DRIVERS, ALL WITH DIFFERENT STYLES, PREFERENCES ETC. HOW HARD IS IT AND WHAT COMPROMISES DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE AS A DRIVER TO GET A CAR THAT WORKS FOR EVERYBODY? "There has been a little bit of compromise here and there – a little bit of differences in what we all want. But I don't think there has been much sacrifice. I think we still are improving the car more and more. We haven't taken any steps backward to suit a driver particularly. We are moving down a good road, and making the car a better race car."