Corvette Takes IMSA Championship Lead After 2nd-Place Finish At VIR0
The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE scored its first international racing win over the weekend at the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, upsetting Chevrolet’s hopes of being the team to break Ford’s four-race winning streak. The No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen came close, though, securing a second-place finish – enough to put them in first place in the drivers’ and teams’ championship standings. In third was the other BMW M8 GTE – car No. 24.
Had Garcia and Magnussen managed to win at VIR, it would have been the team’s third straight victory there, after winning the GT Challenge in 2016 and 2017. The two drivers started from fourth on the grid, with Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford GT starting from pole, until clutch issues took them out of the race after it had led for the first 28 laps.
Antonio Garcia started the race at the wheel of the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, driving the first 55 minutes of the race despite a knee injury before handing off to Jan Magnussen. Magnussen then drove the final two stints, pitting once for fuel during the only full-course caution of the race, and again for fuel and tires with 52 minutes left on the clock. Crucially, the pit crew managed to get Magnussen back out on track in front of the No. 67 Ford GT and No. 24 BMW, enabling him to hold onto second place.
In the No. 4 Corvette, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner finished sixth after a hard-fought race. Milner started from seventh on the grid, but a bit of contact on the first lap sent the Chevrolet off-track and inflicted damage at the front-right. He continued to drive for the first 57 minutes before a driver change, and Gavin drove the following 50 minutes before giving it back to Milner. Throughout, the bodywork damage negatively impacted performance and made driving a struggle, although Milner finally found a good pace toward the end, setting some of his best lap times and gaining against the fourth- and fifth-place cars.
It was too late, though, and the No. 4 Corvette had to settle for sixth.
“That was a tough race because of the heat,” Jan Magnussen said after the event. “Our car was good. The hardest thing was just after the safety car when we didn’t stop. I had so much pickup on the tires and I couldn’t get the car going no matter what I did. Traffic destroyed our chance to get the BMW, so it was a matter then of keeping second place. And that was hard work. That was as fast as I could go every single lap trying to find every little bit of road.”
He continued: “It’s nice that it worked out the way it did. But we want to win. It’s been almost a year since we won a race, and that’s wrong! We have six podiums in a row and the championship lead with two races left – a normal race and a long race. A lot can happen. Four points is nothing, but it’s better than being four points behind!”
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