WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s race saw strategy, rather than speed play out against Corvette Racing.
Corvette Racing has been a prominent force in this year’s WeatherTech IMSA Sportscar Championship. Currently leading the points, their domination is on full display, however, rules of the series have kept competition very close. Ford’s racy GTs, Porsche’s 911s and BMW’s M6 racers have all been viable contenders for the podium in each race, especially this round, at Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California.
Corvette ran their usual No. 3 and No. 4 C7.R entries, with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia sharing stints in the No. 3 car, and Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner driving the No. 4 machine. Spirits were high for the Corvette team at the beginning of the race weekend, with Gavin clinching pole position for the race start. Milner explains why this is only the beginning of a long weekend, “We have to have a perfect race. Perfect laps, perfect through traffic, everything has to be perfect these days.” He continued, “it can be frustrating, obviously, because it’s hard to be perfect all the time, but you do find ways to be as good as you possibly can. Here at Laguna Seca, it’s certainly that much more difficult.”
As things unfolded through the 160 minute race, luck, if any, would transition to the Corvette of Magnussen and Garcia. An opening lap crash took out one competing Porsche 911, and one Ford GT, easing the workload on the Corvettes. While the Corvettes stayed in the lead at the beginning of the race, they were on a 2 stop strategy, while rival factory teams bet on a fuel-saving single stop strategy.
Although the Corvettes had the pace, the extra fuel stop ended up costing the team precious time in the pit lane, and it was up to the No. 3 C7.R Corvette to salvage a podium finish. They did achieve 3rd, with the No. 4 Corvette two spots behind. Despite finishing 5th, Gavin summed up the weekend succinctly, “it looked like we were going to be there to at least pick up a decent podium. But the other manufacturers managed to stretch their fuel for an unbelievable amount of time. We were absolutely certain they were going to stop for fuel again. That’s racing sometimes.”
Although it was a less than desirable result, it doesn’t have the team, or the drivers feeling down. For the last race of the season at Road Atlanta, Gavin stated, “you gotta go back, look, assess, adjust, learn from it, and come back stronger. With Magnussen and Garcia currently leading the drivers standings by only 9 points, and Chevrolet only 10 manufacturer points behind Ford, Corvette Racing has to have a perfect result at Petit Le Mans in order to clinch overall championships for both.