In the hands of drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R managed a third-place finish in the GTLM class at last weekend’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The resulting points helped the No. 3 Corvette to solidify its lead over the No. 66 and 67 Ford GTs, as neither of those teams managed to make it into the top five.
In fact, the No. 66 Ford was swept up in the same pre-start crash that claimed the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R racing prototype. Ford performed some hasty repairs so that the GT could get back out and race, although it only managed two full laps before being retired for good with an hour left in the race.
The IMSA race at Laguna Seca marked the seventh consecutive podium result for the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, and it set the team of Magnussen and Garcia up to enter the final round of the series with a lead in points for the second year in a row. The team has extended its championship lead to nine points over the No. 67 Ford GT, giving them a very strong chance of snatching the title – all without having won a race all season.
The other Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – the No. 4 car of drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner – finished the race fifth in the GTLM class. The two Corvettes had been running higher in their class, holding first and third as the final full-course caution lifted with little more than an hour left on the clock, but both cars were forced to obliged to pit within the final hour, losing two positions apiece.
“It’s easy to think about ‘what if,'” said Antonio Garcia after the race. Corvette Racing had assumed that the other lead cars would run out of fuel if they didn’t pit during the final full-course caution, bringing the Nos. 3 and 4 Corvettes for fuel to err on the side of caution. “That’s what it means to be doing a little bit of something different on strategy. I think we were on the back foot, also. We were fighting for the championship and those two guys are not… they were gambling on the win.
“It’s difficult to gamble when they can take no risks and you take a lot of risk. That was the main thing. It is good to open up a few more points toward Petit Le Mans. Definitely our competitors will be forced to win. I also have the feel we could have won here and locked the championship again, like we did last year.”