2018 Corvette Racing Season
By 2018, the history of Corvette Racing boasted an incredible record of over 100 class wins, including eight class wins at Le Mans, 11 Twelve Hours of Sebring wins and 12 championships. Before the team were forced to transition into the GT2 class (now named the GTLM class), they dominated in the GTS/GT1 era. Racing the C5-R and C6.R GT1, Corvette Racing won the championship in their class every year from 2001 until the last full season of the GT1 class equating to eight consecutive titles. By 2008, Corvette Racing had essentially chased away their competition. This led to the transition to the GT2 class and the sanctioning bodies of the series that Corvette Racing competed in, coming down hard on the new GT2 Corvette C6.R with the Balance of Performance (BoP). The result of the efforts of the FIA/ACO and IMSA sanctioning bodies was Corvette Racing suffered a three-year titleless drought until winning back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. The team then went another two years before scoring another championship in 2016, which was followed up by a hard fought title in 2017. Corvette Racing had failed to extend their consecutive championships beyond two seasons after the GTS/GT1 era, which placed the team under pressure heading into the 2018 season.
For 2018, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet would embark on their 20th anniversary as a team competing at the highest level of sports car racing. No other team within the IMSA paddock could match the longevity of Corvette Racing. By 2018, the Chevrolet/Corvette Racing partnership had become the most successful team within North American endurance racing with a global tally of 106 class wins throughout the previous 19 seasons. Despite the greater challenges for Corvette Racing after the transition from GTS/GT1, no other manufacturer or team has won more often since the ALMS/Grand-Am merger of 2014.
The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship started with the standard three day ‘Roar Before the 24’ test session hosted by Daytona International Speedway between January 4th-7th, 2018. Pratt & Miller had constructed the seventh and final C7.R chassis to be used by Corvette Racing as the #3 car for the 2018 and 2019 season. A fire at the ‘Roar Before the 24’ the previous year took chassis C7RGT-004 out of action, forcing chassis C7RGT-006 to be used a year earlier than anticipated. Chassis C7RGT-006 remained the #4 car for the 2018 and 2019 season. The 2018 Corvette C7.Rs remained unchanged since the FIA GTE Pro regulation adaptations of 2016, allowing for the GTE Pro/GTLM cars to utilize a more aggressive aero package to improve performance. The most notable visual difference between the two C7.Rs used at the 2018 ‘Roar Before the 24’ and the 2017 ‘Roar Before the 24’ was the relocation of the digital position display. At the start of the 2017 season, Pratt & Miller utilized the small side windows behind the C-pillars for the mandatory digital position display. By round four of the 2017 season at the Circuit of The Americas, the digital position display had increased in size, which required the team to relocate it to the lower rear section of both doors. For 2018 the digital position display had decreased in size allowing Pratt & Miller to move to the middle front portion of both doors, which made the C7.R’s doors more aesthetically pleasing due to blending in better with the decals. The livery throughout the whole C7.R era had only subtly evolved each season with minor adaptations. For the 2018 season Corvette Racing would keep that same recipe, by only adapting the Jake Skull on the hood. To help ‘Jake’ stand out better, whilst maintaining the patriotic American theme. Corvette Racing had kept the tradition of separating the two cars via the window banners, with the #3 car using a black Corvette text on a white background and the #4 car using a white Corvette text on a black background.
For the first time, the upcoming 2018 Roar Before the 24, had an actual impact on the Rolex 24 at Daytona race. A 15 minute qualifying session would determine the teams pit box and garage assignments. This minor factor can play a major role within an endurance race especially with how close the margin between the GTLM class had become. With a pit box closer to pit entrance, it can give a team an advantage due to the lower risk of a car sat at a standstill after a completed stop due to waiting for other cars behind leaving their pit boxes. Having a better garage location can save precious time if a driver is trying to get their car in for repairs due to a mechanical failure or damage. Oliver Gavin was able to qualify the #4 C7.R second fastest with a 1:43.640 laptime with defending champion #3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia close behind with a 1:43.998 for fifth fastest.
Rolex 24 at Daytona
The 56th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona took place on January 27th-28th, 2018 with the qualifying session for grid position taking place on Thursday 25th. Twenty years after their competitive debut at Daytona International Raceway, Corvette Racing would start Saturday’s race from pole position in the GTLM class. Jan Magnussen was able to set a laptime of 1:42.779 to place his #3 Corvette C7.R on the top spot of the starting grid. The new class record laptime was helped by teammate Oliver Gavin piloting the #4 sister Corvette by providing a ‘tow’. A technique created by the car ahead breaking a hole in the air, which allows a car behind to increase its speed due to the lower air resistance. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time for Magnussen to return the favor, therefore Gavin would post a 1:43.453 placing the #4 C7.R in sixth place on the GTLM starting grid. The top five GTLM cars would be separated by only 0.283 seconds, with the #66 Ford GT taking second and #912 Porsche 911 RSR posting the third fastest time.
The race started on Saturday with an intense battle within the GTLM class. Within the first six hours of the race, it became apparent the Fords had incredible straight-line speed. Both Corvettes were very quick throughout the twisty infield section of the circuit, however, were struggling on the high-speed NASCAR sections of the track. This resulted in the #3 C7.R dropping down to fifth in class with the #4 running well, in third. The Corvette Racing drivers had reported the unpredictability of the Prototype drivers, making the racing conditions dangerous. After the first 12 hours of racing, both Corvettes were able to keep the pressure applied to leading pair of Ford GTs. The changing weather conditions were making the racing challenging due to the circuit changing from wet to dry. As the morning sun rose, Corvette Racing had accepted that unless an unexpected incident was to occur, catching the Fords was unlikely. The team had executed a combination of perfect strategy and pit stops to stay within a podium position. The final quarter of the race ended event free within the GTLM class. Corvette Racing had managed to run a perfect race with the #3 C7.R finishing third two laps behind the two Fords.
The #4 Corvette finished one lap behind the sister car in fourth place six laps ahead of the fifth placed #62 Ferrari 488 GTE of Risi Competizione. The team walked away from Daytona happy with the result, however the mentality for the team at Daytona and Le Mans is the only goal is to win. With the lack of full caution periods, the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona broke records for most distance covered, and most laps completed.
Mobil 1 Tweleve Hours of Sebring
The second race of the season would be the legendary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Corvette Racing had competed at Sebring for 19 consecutive years and boasted a record of 11 class victories with three of those coming within the last three years. The team were aiming to make it four wins in a row but during Friday’s qualifying proved the new BMW M8s had a lot of speed in their back pockets. The #25 BMW took pole position with a 1:55.839, whilst the best efforts from Corvette Racing was a 1:56.588 set by Antonio Garcia in the #3 car. Tommy Milner was not far behind in the #4 with a 1:56.900, which happened to be the slowest time in GTLM, placing the #4 Corvette in ninth position on the grid.
As the race started on Saturday, the team continued to make minor adjustments to the cars throughout the race via tire pressure and sway bar adjustments. By the halfway point of the race, the drivers were reporting their satisfaction with how the cars were running despite the changing track conditions. The #4 C7.R had been able to sustain the GTLM class lead, which was obtained four hours into the race after the #4 race engineer; Chuck Houghton radioed Oliver Gavin to bring the #4 in for a pit stop just before a full-course yellow. After all the GTLM cars had made their stops, the #4 was the lead car of the GTLM class. Unfortunately, by the halfway point of the race, the #3 was down several laps following an opening-lap puncture and visits to the garage to resolve steering issues and an electrical problem. Later into the race as the sun started to set, the #4 C7.R started to lose its balance within the setup. The team struggled to create enough grip to keep the #4 running competitive lap times therefore the rest of the GTLM field started to catch up. As the race wound down to the end, the #4 Corvette had failed to hold a podium position. The race finished with the #911 Porsche taking the GTLM victory and the #4 C7.R taking sixth. The #3 Corvette finishing in eighth position, a full 45 laps down from the GTLM leaders. It was not at all the result the team was looking for after executing a clean race.
BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach
The third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took the series to the state of California for a 100-minute race on the streets of Long Beach. Corvette Racing had built a rich history of success at Long Beach by achieving six class victories with a combined 14 podiums since 2006. The defending GTLM championship-winning program would make its 12th start at the longest-running street race in America. No other team within the IMSA paddock had more appearances and victories at Long Beach than Corvette Racing. Tommy Milner sealed the victory the previous year at the final corner at the expense of Antonio Garcia that had the win stolen away from him due to a freak GTD pile up that boxed in his car. Garcia and Magnussen along with Corvette Racing entered the weekend sitting in sixth place in the GTLM standings. Sitting back by a 10-point deficit from Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook in the #67 Ford GT of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing that held the top spot in the standings. Due to the tight and tricky nature of the circuit, the organizers decided to enter only the Prototype and GTLM class making for a total of 14 cars. Saturday’s qualifying session saw the Ford GT yet again displayed its outright pace with Joey Hand in the #66 securing pole position by posting a 1:16.869 laptime. Jan Magnussen accomplished a best laptime of 1:17.293 to qualify the #3 in fourth place right ahead of Oliver Gavin in the sister #4 car that placed the fifth fastest time of 1:17.533.
Sunday’s race started with plenty drama heading into to turn one. The third placed #911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet rear ended the #66 Ford, which created an opening for Magnussen to squeeze by to take third place. The #66 Ford collected the front grille of the Porsche that had wedged itself to the Ford’s rear diffuser. At the same time but slightly ahead into the water fountain of turn 2, the #38 Gibson prototype made contact with the #52 Ligier. The #38 was damaged in the incident and became stationary, which immediately paused the racing action as it brought out a full course yellow. Racing would resume 12 minutes after the race start. The next 21 minutes of green flag racing would remain pretty clean until the #85 Gibson DP made a mistake at turn one that brought out the second full course caution. Four minutes later the pits would open, which saw the whole GTLM field pit beside the #25 BMW that had managed to stop just before the yellow flags. Garcia would take over from Magnussen in the #3 and Milner would swap with Gavin in the #4. Corvette Racing had yet again managed to execute a pair of phenomenal pit stops with both Corvettes gaining positions. Garcia exited pit lane first to secure second place in the GTLM class behind the #25 BMW and Tommy Milner had moved up to fourth right behind the #912 Porsche. The green flag would restart the racing action with just under 58 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, on the restart, Antonio Garcia’s #3 Corvette C7.R dropped out of gear. It took eight seconds for the #3 to get back into first gear and going again. By that time Garcia had dropped from second to last. Tommy Milner had moved up to third at the expense of his teammate and was quickly closing the gap on the second placed #912 Porsche.
Ten minutes after the race restart, the #912 Porsche pulled alongside the #25 BMW on the front straight to drag race to turn one for the GTLM lead. As they battled for the lead, Milner was able to get right behind them heading into turn one. Earl Bamber of the #912 Porsche took the lead away from Alexander Sims in the #25 BMW at turn four after pushing onto the rear end of the BMW through turn three. The battle up front had caused the GTLM field to bunch up allowing Garcia to close back onto the tail end of the GTLM train of cars. With 43 minutes remaining, Milner stuck the nose of the Corvette down the inside of the #25 BMW heading into turn eight with the #66 Ford getting a better exit behind. The cars went three wide down the back straight, which resulted in the #66 Ford taking second, Milner holding third and the #25 going wide at turn nine to make heavy contact with the wall. During the commotion, Garcia managed to gain three spots to take fifth in class. With just over 30 minutes remaining, Milner managed to make a move work on the #66 Ford to take second place. Later, with 28 minutes remaining, Nick Tandy driving the #911 Porsche made contact with a prototype, causing more of the Porsche’s front fascia to break away leaving large pieces of debris on the track. This brought out the third full course yellow of the race. The race would go green again with only 23 minutes remaining. Heading into turn six the right front suspension of the GTLM class leading Porsche failed. Milner carefully navigated himself past the Porsche to take the lead at turn 10.
During the misfortunes of the Porsche, Garcia was able to make up another position to take fourth place. Milner would hold a comfortable lead to take Corvette Racing’s first win of the season. Despite a rough battle between the two Fords in front of him, Garcia finished fourth in class. Not the result he was looking for but overall a great recovery drive after the mechanical issue on the restart.
Acura Sports Car Challenge Mid-Ohio
The fourth round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, took the series back to an old, familiar track of Mid-Ohio after a five-year absence. 2018 would be the first year the series had competed at Mid-Ohio since the NASCAR/IMSA merger. Corvette Racing had a history at Mid-Ohio of eight class victories and a combined total of 17 podiums. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner were the last drivers in the GT class to win at Mid-Ohio at the most recent race in 2012. Saturday’s qualifying session would see the BMWs redeem themselves after a miserable weekend at Long Beach, with John Edwards putting the #24 BMW M8 GTE on the GTLM pole with a 1:17.853. Antonio Garcia qualified the #3 C7.R fifth fastest with a laptime of 1:18.114, and Tommy Milner posted a 1:18.452 to close up the GTLM grid in eighth.
The race on Sunday started with the first couple of laps being drama free until the #22 Nissan prototype spun out the #85 Oreca 07 Gibson at turn six. John Edwards in the #24 BMW went onto the dirt, attempting to avoid the incident, which allowed most of the GTLM field to pass him. Garcia in the #3 Corvette had obtained fourth position at the expense of the #24 BMW. After 15 minutes of green flag racing, Tommy Milner managed to catch and pass the #67 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe to take seventh in class, whilst his teammate stayed in the GTLM battle between the top five cars. Towards the 30-minute mark, the GTLM cars had caught up the GTD back markers, which allowed Milner to close the gap to the competition in front. Garcia defended his position through ‘The Keyhole’ right hairpin, which saw the #24 BMW throw dirt up into the air as he went wide on the exit.
The first of the GTLM pit stops started at the 49-minute mark of the race, with the #24 BMW pitting first, however the rest of the GTLM cars would stay out for another seven minutes. Garcia pitted at the 1 hour and 45-minute mark for tires, fuel and a driver change to Jan Magnussen. Magnussen would rejoin the track in seventh position. Tommy Milner would stay out for another five minutes to make his pit stop right at the one-hour mark to hand over to Oliver Gavin. Five minutes later, Magnussen in the #3 Corvette would get a good run out of the keyhole and manage to stick a move on the #25 BMW at the outside of turn four to take fifth place. With just under one hour and 10 minutes remaining in the race, Oliver Gavin made a pit stop from eighth place for fuel and tires to gamble on catching a full-course yellow period to gain track position. With just slightly over an hour remaining in the race, Magnussen would make his final stop for fuel and tires from fifth place. The Corvette Racing pit crew managed to earn Magnussen a track position, placing the #3 in fourth, right in front of the #67 Ford GT. Oliver Gavin had managed to make up a position and was right on the rear of the #911 Porsche.
With 38 minutes remaining, Magnussen remained in a Ford GT sandwich. As the #67 in front of him made a minor error, it allowed the #3 to try make a move into the keyhole. This allowed the #66 Ford behind to make up some ground and try pass Magnussen on the inside. Magnussen and Joey Hand bumped doors all the way down the back straight and through the kink into turn four. In typically Magnussen style, Jan did not back down and maintained fourth place. With 27 minutes remaining in the race, Magnussen made his move on the #67 Ford of Richard Westbrook heading into turn one. Magnussen made the move successfully and moved up into third position.
Unfortunately for Oliver Gavin, the gamble did not pay off. No caution flags came out for the whole race, and the #4 C7.R was caught short on fuel with just under four minutes to go. Gavin received a splash of fuel and lost a position to the #24 BMW to finish the race eighth in class. Magnussen managed to pull a comfortable gap on the #67 Ford to finish the race on the final step of the podium in third place. The race results moved both Corvettes and their drivers to sit in joint fourth in the standings with 111 points. Ahead of them was Dirk Müller and Joey Hand of the #66 Ford by just one point. Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor of the #912 Porsche held second place in the standings by only 3 points. The top spot of the GTLM standings belonged to Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe of the #67 Ford with 121 points
86th Edition des 24 Heures du Mans
The month of June, despite only featuring one race for the team, is one of the busiest times of the year for Corvette Racing. It’s the time of year that the team prepare to make their trip across the Atlantic Ocean to France for what could be considered Corvette Racing’s most important event of the Le Mans 24 Hours. The last victory for the team came in 2015, however the #63 C7.R achieved a podium position at last year’s race. Leading up to Le Mans, Pratt & Miller spent two days at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to fine tune and analyze setup options. The Circuit de la Sarthe is a unique circuit that is made up of a combination of a race circuit and public roads. Featuring four very long straights including the infamous Mulsanne straight, cars reach high speeds. The options in the United States for tracks similar to Le Mans is very limited so with Road America featuring two long straights is considered the best choice. Whilst testing at Road America the team had access to a different specification Michelin tire. The tire option and specification for both the Le Mans 24 Hours and FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), differed from the Michelin tire used in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. European teams that were part of the WEC had already competed on the tire at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, putting any US team, like Corvette Racing, at a disadvantage.
The team headed to France to partake in the Le Mans test day ahead of the race. Oliver Gavin managed to set the fastest time of the two Corvettes with a 3:54.179, only 0.038 seconds ahead of Antonio Garcia driving the #63 C7.R. Both Corvettes placed 10th and 11th amongst a 17-car GTE Pro field featuring five different manufacturers. During testing the #64 C7.R with Tommy Milner behind the wheel suffered a failed suspension component. The team decided to pull both cars into the garage make repairs and inspect the parts, which cost them track time. After the test, the ACO made changes to the BoP within the GTE Pro class. The Corvettes joined BMW and Ford to unfortunately incurred a weight increase to slow their performance. The only cars not to receive any changes was the Porsches celebrating their 70th anniversary. During qualifying, the C7.R was able to produce laptimes on par with the faster GT1 variant Corvette C6.R. Corvette Racing’s best laptime around the Circuit de la Sarthe was set in 2008 with the C6.R under different regulations. Despite the modern C7.R featuring less horsepower, torque and more weight than the C6.R, it displayed how much technology and the Pratt & Miller engineering had come in ten years. The results of qualifying saw Garcia setting the fastest time out of the two Corvettes with a 3:50.242 laptime that placed the #63 C7.R ninth amongst the GTE Pro grid. Tommy Milner set the fastest time for the #64 with a 3:50.952 resulting in 14th place.
On Saturday, Corvette Racing would be making their 19th start at the legendary race. The team had achieved eight class victories at Le Mans with a combined total of 20 podiums. The race opened with an intense battle amongst the GTE Pro category. Garcia started the race in the #63 car from ninth position and was able to climb to fifth within the first hour. The #63 crew rotated between the three drivers for the first six hours, all driving double stints. The #63 was running eighth in class after the first quarter of the race. Unfortunately for the #64 the race started with issues. Oliver Gavin started behind the wheel of the #64 and was able to get by one of the Ferraris to then have a fun battle with one of the BMWs. Within the opening hour, Gavin reported strange handling from the right front after going through the Dunlop chicane. Gavin handed over to Tommy Milner, who reported back the handling had worsened. Milner brought the #64 into the garage for repairs, losing four laps in the process.
The next six hours saw the #63 involved in a six-way fight for the GTE Pro lead. Whilst Garcia was behind the wheel, he was able to pass both the Fords and the lead Ferrari, however it was still a tight battle and none of the front runners had made mistakes. For the #64 car, the trio of Gavin, Milner and Fässler had done a great job to move up from last in class to 15th. However, more issues plagued the #64 with the engine floor undertray needing replacement. The next day the #63 Corvette, continued to battle hard with the top five cars. The team worked tirelessly to keep the #63 within the top five, despite lacking the pace of the Porsches at the front. Throughout the whole 24 hour race, the #63 never dropped lower than ninth, but came to the realization they would have to settle down into fifth due to being split from the front runners during safety car periods.
More problems would ensue for the #64 when into the third quarter of the race, their C7.R started to show signs of overheating. Ultimately the overheating issue would persist, and the #64 Corvette would retire after completing 259 laps. The race finished Sunday afternoon with Porsche taking the GTE Pro class win. The #63 managed to finish fifth in class but would officially be promoted to fourth place after the #67 Ford GT ahead was penalized because one of their drivers; Tony Kanaan, did not meet the minimum overall drive time of six hours.
On the 22nd of June, Corvette Racing announced they would be competing in the FIA WEC race at Shanghai for the first factory-run Corvette to race in Asia. As part of the announcement, the C7.R would wear a special Redline livery for the race in Shanghai to promote the launch of the special edition lineup across Chevrolet’s portfolio in China.
Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen
The team returned to the United States in preparation for their next race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Team personnel had only four days to revert both Corvette C7.Rs into their IMSA configuration and restock the inventory of parts and components for the next three events. The team headed to New York for Watkins Glen International to compete in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Corvette Racing showed up to Watkins Glen with changes to their livery. In celebration of July 4th weekend, the team had added a stars and stripes strip within the black roof stripe to the end of the tailgate. Pratt & Miller also introduced yellow to the top of the rear wing chord. Although they were subtle changes, they continued to add to the patriotic theme of the C7.R. With the championship being so tight everything counted. Corvette Racing translated this into a solid qualifying session on Saturday with both Corvettes locking out the second row of the grid. The front row belonged to the two Fords with Richard Westbrook posting the fastest time of 1:41.948. Tommy Milner put the #4 in third place with a 1:42.365 and Antonio Garcia took fourth after posting a 1:42.497.
The race started with a near huge accident, when at the high-speed turn four the #90 Cadillac prototype spun after light contact with the #31 Cadillac. The incident would involve the #2 Gibson prototype that was hit from behind by the sister #22 Gibson that resulted in the #2 and #90 making contact. Fortunately, the GT field of cars behind, managed to avoid the two Prototypes. The race would go back to green with the Fords starting to pull a comfortable gap away from the rest of the GTLM pack.
At the 47-minute mark another full-course caution came out due a large piece of bodywork from #2 Gibson that sat at the exit of turn one. Seven minutes later whilst still under caution, the pits opened, resulting in the GTLM field to make their stops. Oliver Gavin took over from Milner in the #4 and Magnussen would swap with Garcia in the #3. It wasn’t the typical Corvette Racing pit execution, with the #4 almost leaving with the fuel hose still attached. This created a delay allowing the #912 Porsche to leapfrog the #4 for third place and the #911 Porsche was able was able to get out ahead of the #3 dropping Magnussen to sixth. The race went green again at the one hour and four-minute mark.16 minutes after the restart, the #911 Porsche managed to get by Oliver Gavin and take away fourth place from the #4 Corvette. The two Porsches had a very fast stint and caught the Fords at the front. Six minutes shy of the two-hour mark, the #912 Porsche made its second stop. Three minutes later the #66 Ford along with the #911 Porsche and #4 Corvette made their stops, proving the #912 was potentially running a less economic faster engine map. Oliver Gavin handed back over the #4 to Tommy Milner whilst the GTD leading #29 Audi R8 had become stationary at the exit of turn seven. On the next lap Magnussen pitted the #3 for fuel and tires only making Magnussen the first of the Corvette Racing drivers to double stint. At the two hour and 28-minute mark at the exit of turn nine, the #54 Oreca cut across the front of the #93 Acura GTD, which caused the #54 to spin out. Magnussen in the #3 managed to avoid the spinning prototype, however as the #54 rotated round, it made light contact with the left rear of Magnussen’s C7.R. Seven minutes shy of the halfway mark, the #912 Porsche was the first of the GTLM cars to pit again. The next lap the GTLM leading #911 Porsche with the #67 Ford pitted together followed by Milner in the #4 to hand over to Gavin. Magnussen managed to stretch out his stint to the three-hour mark staying out four laps longer than most of the other GTLM cars. Magnussen handed over driving duties to Antonio Garcia that re-joined the track in fourth place. 27 minutes later contact between the #38 and #54 prototypes resulted in the #38 spinning into the wall at the exit of turn eight. This brought out the third full-course caution of the day, however the #67 Ford and #4 Corvette managed to jump into pits just before they closed. Gavin in the #4 managed to leapfrog the #67 in pitlane ahead with a faster pit stop moving Gavin into fifth in class. Eight minutes later after the incident, pitlane opened, which saw the top four GTLM cars all pit together including the #3 Corvette from fourth place. Corvette Racing pulled off another perfect stop to get the Garcia out ahead of the three other GTLM cars. With two hours and 15 minutes remaining, the race went green with Gavin leading the GTLM class and Garcia in third. Over the next 15 minutes Garcia closed the gap on Ryan Briscoe in the #67 Ford. Coming out of turn one, Garcia managed to get right behind the Ford going through turn two and three. At the exit of turn four, Garcia was within inches of the Ford and was able to use the slipstream to pass for second place heading into the inner loop chicane. Within 10 minutes, Garcia had closed the four second gap to his teammate and was right on the rear of the #4 for the class lead. Just shy of the one hour and 40 minutes remaining, Oliver Gavin went wide through turn seven, creating a gap for Garcia to pass on the straight heading to turn eight. Very quickly Garcia pulled a 1.6 second lead. On the next lap Oliver Gavin made his pitstop, putting Tommy Milner back behind the wheel of the #4.
Milner rejoined the track sixth in the GTLM class whilst Garcia stayed and quickly extended his lead. For the next 15 minutes Garcia built his lead to almost ten seconds before pitting to hand back over to Jan Magnussen. The #3 rejoined the track in fourth place, with just over a three second gap to the #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand, however on the next lap the #911 Porsche pitted from second place to promote Magnussen to third. With just under 80 minutes remaining in the race, Ryan Briscoe brought the GTLM leading #67 Ford GT in for a pitstop. Magnussen passed the Ford as it was leaving its pit box, moving the #3 into second place. The following lap the sister #66 Ford pitted from the lead allowing the #3 to reclaim first place and Milner in the #4 to inherit third with just over an hour remaining. As the race passed over to one hour remaining, Dirk Müller in the #66 Ford had closed onto the rear of GTLM leading #3 Corvette. At the same time Tommy Milner in the #4 was under pressure from the #912 Porsche, which resulted in Milner failing to hold back the Porsche for third place. With 52 minutes remaining, Tommy Milner brought the #4 in for its final stop. The #4 would leave pitlane in sixth position with Milner staying behind the wheel for the end. To disrupt the action, the #44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 suffered a right rear puncture that resulted in the tire carcass coming away from the wheel and leaving debris on track. The large piece of rubber on track brought out the fourth full-course caution of the day. Magnussen managed to get the #3 in for its final stop just before the full-course caution would force pitlane to be closed. Magnussen handed the #3 back over to Garcia who rejoined the track in fourth place with 48 minutes remaining. Five minutes later pitlane would open, which allowed the first and second placed GTLM cars to pit moving Garcia to second behind Müller in the #66 Ford. The race would go back to green with only 36 minutes remaining, creating a sprint to the finish. Müller managed to slowly pull away from Garcia over the next ten minutes, whilst Milner was trying to defend fourth place from the #912 Porsche.
With 23 minutes remaining the #912 made a move stick on Tommy Milner and dropped the #4 to fifth in class. Garcia couldn’t close in on the Ford ahead and finished in second place. Milner took fifth ahead of the #67 Ford, which mixed up the championship standings.
Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix
The series would head north to Canada for the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. The results at Watkins Glen moved Garcia/Magnussen and the #3 Corvette Racing crew to third in the standings with 143 points. Only three points ahead of them was Westbrook/Briscoe of the #67 Ford and one point ahead of them was Müller/Hand of the #66 Ford. Gavin/Milner had dropped to sixth in the standings with 137 points but only six points separated them from the top three. During qualifying it was Nick Tandy of the #911 Porsche that secured pole position within GTLM, posting a best lap time of 1:13.517. Jan Magnussen achieved a 1:13.934, which placed the #3 Corvette on the third position of the GTLM grid. Oliver Gavin posted a 1:14.080, placing the #4 C7.R in fifth place and the championship leading #66 Ford GT would make up the final spot of the GTLM grid behind the two BMWs.
Sunday’s race went green under sunny skies with Jan Magnussen managing to steal second place heading into turn one from the #67 Ford. The first ten minutes of the race saw Nick Tandy in the GTLM class leading #911 Porsche pull away from the pack. Magnussen was unable to keep with the pace of the leading Porsche but was able to manage a gap from the #912 Porsche behind whilst Oliver Gavin settled into fifth. Only 21 minutes into the race, the #66 Ford that was struggling at the back, made a pit for fuel and tires only. Just as the Ford left its pit box a full course caution came out due to a GTD Porsche getting stuck in the grass at turn five. A few laps later, pit lane would open, which both Corvettes took advantage of to take on fuel and tires only. The #3 of Jan Magnussen rejoined the track in fifth with Gavin right behind in sixth. The #24 BMW did not make a pitstop therefore inherited the GTLM lead. The race went green again with two hours and seven minutes remaining. Magnussen was able to take fourth place away from the #66 Ford within the first lap under green and was closing in on the back of the #912 Porsche. A lap later Oliver Gavin was able to pass the #66 Ford to take fifth position. Within only two minutes into the restart, the #58 GTD Porsche was clipped by its teammate, resulting in the #58 spinning into the dirt at the exit of turn five. The #58 was unable to get moving again, which brought out the second full course caution of the race. With just under two hours remaining the race went green again. At the exit of turn 10, Oliver Gavin was trying to lap a GTD Mercedes. The two cars made contact as they went side by side, which allowed the #66 Ford behind to close the gap. Joey Hand in the #66 Ford managed to hold the inside line heading into turn one and pass Gavin for fifth place. With an hour and 34 minutes remaining, the #24 BMW entered pit lane to make its stop. This allowed the two Corvettes to advance a position each, with Magnussen now running third and Gavin in fifth. With 90 minutes to go, the third full course caution came out due to a dislodged wheel rolling freely at turn 10. The GTLM leaders pitted under the caution period, which saw both Corvettes pit for fuel, tires and driver changes.
The #3 Corvette Racing pit crew did an amazing job to get Antonio Garcia out ahead of both Porsches. The two BMWs did not stop, which resulted in Garcia rejoining the track in third and Tommy Milner in the #4 taking sixth behind the #66 Ford. With an hour and 19 minutes remaining the race went green again. On the restart, Garcia dropped a position to the #911 Porsche. Unfortunately, only three minutes of racing took place as another full course caution came out as a result of debris all over the exit of turn five. This was the result of the #912 Porsche making heavy contact with the #67 Ford at turn 10 leading to a left rear tire blowout on the Porsche. The debris was cleaned up and the race went green with an hour and 10 minutes remaining. On the restart, the #911 Porsche and #24 BMW were battling for second place, which allowed Garcia behind to get better track position and move up to second place. The battle between the BMW and Porsche continued behind, which resulted in heavy contact at the apex of turn 10 that broke the right rear suspension of the #24 BMW. The sister #25 BMW pitted from the lead, which moved Garcia into the GTLM lead and Tommy Milner into fourth. The second placed #911 Porsche pitted with 57 minutes remaining for fuel and tires to try stretch a final stop to the end. A lap later Antonio Garcia brought the #3 in for its final stop for fuel and tires. The stop for the #3 went well however, Garcia came out behind the #911 Porsche. Twenty minutes after the sister #3 Corvette made its final stop, Tommy Milner brought in the #4 C7.R from the lead with 35 minutes to go. The #4 Corvette Racing pit crew executed a perfect stop to get Milner back out ahead of the #66 Ford and #912 Porsche to slot in behind the sister #3 Corvette. With 26 minutes remaining the #6 Acura DP car lost the left front wheel at turn five following a pit stop. The GTLM class leading #67 Ford GT pitted just before the full course caution came out for left side tires only and fuel. The stop was short enough for the #67 to retain the class lead. With 18 minutes remaining the race went green. The two Corvettes running in third and fourth managed to pull by the #911 Porsche on the back straight that had made a mistake entering turn five.
Both Corvettes had moved into a podium position with the #3 in second place ahead of the #4. At the same time the #55 Mazda DP went into the gravel at turn five to bring out a full course caution with only 12 minutes to go. The race went back to green with only eight minutes remaining to make for a mad dash to the finish. The race finished with Richard Westbrook in the #67 Ford winning, courtesy of a great strategy and pit stop, four seconds ahead of the two Corvettes. It was a great race for Corvette Racing with both cars finishing on the podium for the first time in 2018. Garcia and Magnussen had moved up to second in the standings with 175 points, six point behind Westbrook/Briscoe of the #67 Ford. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner were tied fourth with the #912 Porsche of Bambers/Vanthoor with 167 points.
Northeast Grand Prix Lime Rock
The series headed to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for a GT only race. Lime Rock held a special place in the hearts of Corvette Racing as it was the location the team achieved their 100th victory back in 2016. Saturday’s qualifying saw Antonio Garcia set the fastest lap to take the second pole position of the season for the #3 Corvette, with a time of 49.754. Tommy Milner posted a laptime of 50.048 to put the #4 C7.R in fourth place on the grid. The #67 Ford GT championship leading car, qualified fifth fastest with a 50.106.
The race started on Sunday with Garcia getting a great jump on the green flag to pull a nice lead into turn one. Milner in the #4 managed to do the same from fourth place to enter turn one ahead of the #66 Ford for third place. Within the first lap the #93 Acura GTD and #96 BMW GTD made heavy contact to bring out the first full course caution. The race went green again nine minutes later to resume racing. At the 30-minute mark, Garcia pulled out a two second gap from the second placed #912 Porsche, whilst Milner in the #4 was starting to come under pressure from the #66 Ford of Dirk Müller. At the 50-minute mark of the race, Richard Westbrook brought the #67 Ford GT in for the first stop in the GTLM field, stopping for fuel, tires and a driver change. Just past the one-hour mark, Antonio Garcia brought the #3 C7.R in for its first pit stop from first place with a seven second lead. The #3 would change all four tires, fuel up and hand over to Jan Magnussen.
The #3 rejoined the circuit in fifth place as the #912 Porsche pitted from the lead inherited from the #3 Corvette. Four minutes after his teammate, Tommy Milner pitted from the lead to hand over to Oliver Gavin. Gavin entered the circuit in seventh place on fresh tires and full fuel tank with the two Fords ahead. After most of the GTLM field had pitted, Magnussen was up in to second behind the #25 BMW. Magnussen was shaving over two seconds a lap away from the BMW ahead. It took only five minutes to close a 12 second gap as Magnussen passed the #25 BMW entering turn one for the lead. Six minutes later, Oliver Gavin was able to pass the struggling #25 BMW on old tires to move up to fifth position. With 70 minutes remaining, Magnussen was held up in GTD traffic and saw his four second lead cut down to 1.2 seconds. With 63 minutes remaining in the race, Jan Magnussen pitted the #3 C7.R from the lead for tires and fuel only. The #3 Corvette reentered the track in seventh position. Three minutes later, Oliver Gavin brought in the #4 from fourth place for fuel and tires only. As Gavin exited pit lane the #24 BMW made its stop resulting in Gavin taking sixth place behind his teammate.
Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche managed to stay out for longer, trying to utilize a strategy that would not require another stop before the finish. The #67 championship leading Ford GT pitted next, which advanced Magnussen to fourth place, as Bamber in the #912 understeered off the track at turn one. Bamber was able to quickly get back on to the track, however the #66 Ford was now right on its rear to fight for the lead. The #66 Ford pitted from second place with 54 minutes remaining as Bamber pitted from the lead the next lap. The stop for the #912 Porsche was lengthy due to a faulty wheel gun, which allowed Magnussen to pass and build a lead. The #912 Porsche entered the circuit right in front of the #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin in fifth place. Jan Magnussen was pulling a commanding ten second lead ahead of the #911 Porsche in second place, which lost its position to the #66 Ford a lap later. Nick Tandy brought in the #911 Porsche with 43 minutes remaining, which handed Oliver Gavin fourth place. Magnussen lost a chunk of time in GTD traffic to the #66 Ford, which was running on newer tires. With 20 minutes remaining, Magnussen was starting to struggle on his tires. This was not helped by the GTD traffic and lapping some of the GTLM cars, which forced Magnussen off the racing line to the dirty side of the track. With 15 minutes remaining, Joey Hand had closed onto the rear of Jan Magnussen, and with 160 laps completed, Magnussen was starting to slip and slide around on the beaten tires. With 13 minutes remaining, Magnussen was passing a GTD car entering turn seven onto the front straight. As Magnussen passed on the inside, he lost traction before the apex, which forced his C7.R onto the marbles of rubber at the exit of the turn. The marbles caused the C7.R to go off track into the dirt, which allowed Joey Hand to pass easily to take away the lead. The race finished with the #66 Ford winning and Magnussen in second place. Oliver Gavin crossed the finish line in fourth place. The results became the third straight runner-up finish for the #3 Corvette. After leading 138 of the 178 lap race, the result was disappointing for Magnussen and Garcia, however their consistency had moved them to within one point of the championship leaders.
Continental Tire Road Race Showcase Road America
The ninth round of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship took the series to Elkhart Lake for one of Corvette Racing’s favorite venues at Road America. Heading into Road America, the championship had gotten even tighter with Müller/Hand in the #67 Ford GT atop of the standings with 208 points. Garcia and Magnussen had closed the gap to within a one point deficit, however Westbrook/Briscoe in the #66 Ford were sitting in third place only one point behind Garcia and Magnussen. The #912 Porsche of Bambers/Vanthoor were sitting in fourth with 197 points only two points ahead of Gavin and Milner in fifth place. With the championship being so tight in the final stretch of the season, every possible advantage became a necessity, which carried over into qualifying. Dirk Müller achieved pole position driving the #66 Ford with a time of 2:02.479. The sister #67 Ford took second place on the GTLM grid with a 2:02.650 and Antonio Garcia took third place in the #3 Corvette, posting a time of 2:02.746. Oliver Gavin would put the #4 Corvette in fifth place setting a time of 2:03.170 just behind the #912 Porsche.
The race started with Garcia getting another great jump like at Lime Rock, which allowed him to move the #3 C7.R into second place by turn three. At the end of lap one, the #52 Ligier went wide at turn 13 to spin at the final corner into the gravel trap to bring out a full course caution. The race went green six minutes later, with Garcia yet again displaying great reflexes to close in on the class leading Ford GT. Over the next couple of laps, Oliver Gavin was closing in on the back of the #912 Porsche. At the 18-minute mark, Gavin started to make a move heading into the tight left hander of turn five. The Porsche and Corvette made light contact, which forced Gavin wide on the exit, allowing the #24 BMW behind to take the inside line on the Corvette heading into turn six. The BMW bumped Gavin wide at the apex of turn six forcing Gavin to drop a position. By the 27-minute mark, the GTLM cars had caught and started to lap the GTD field. Heading into turn one, the third placed #67 Ford made contact with the #63 Ferrari GTD, which took a chunk of the Ford’s rear bodywork off. The #912 Porsche behind hit the large piece of debris, which allowed the #24 BMW and #4 Corvette to close the gap to the Porsche. Both the BMW and the #4 C7.R managed to capitalize on the misfortunes of the Porsche by each gaining a position. During the move, Gavin was able to get by the BMW to move back into fourth place.
At the 33-minute mark, the #51 Ferrari GTD went off at the fast right kink of turn 11 bringing out the second full course caution of the day. Pit lane opened during the yellow flag period, which saw a majority of the GTLM field take advantage of, including the two Corvettes. During the stop, the two Fords got out first, but the #25 BMW managed to get out just before the two Corvettes. Milner took over from Gavin and managed to get his #4 out in front of the #3, now at the hands of Jan Magnussen. The pit stop had mixed up the positions with the #4 now sitting in fifth and the #3 having dropped to sixth. The racing went back to green at the 47-minute mark, but racing would only resume for 14 minutes as the #85 Oreca was rear ended by the #93 Acura GTD at turn 12. Robert Alon in the #85 spun into the gravel, which brought out the third full course caution of the day. The race restarted with 93 minutes remaining, which saw the championship leading #66 Ford from second place go wide at turn one. As the Ford went wide over the curbs, the right rear suspension was damaged forcing the #66 to return to the pits for repairs allowing Milner and Magnussen, each to gain a position. With 80 minutes remaining, Magnussen brought in the #3 C7.R from fifth place for fuel, tires and driver change to Garcia. The #3 rejoined the track in seventh place behind the #912 Porsche. Garcia was able to close the gap and six minutes later make a pass on the Porsche at the exit of turn five for sixth in class. With 64 minutes remaining, the #73 Porsche GTD went off at turn 11 causing damage to its left rear. As the #73 Porsche became stationary on the track, the GTLM leaders all pitted, including Tommy Milner in the #4, before the full course caution. The #3 of Antonio Garcia pitted the next lap just in time before pit lane closed for fuel and fresh tires. After the stops, Milner had retained fourth place and Garcia with the strategic stop had dropped one position behind the #911 Porsche. With 47 minutes to go, the race went green again, which saw the #911 Porsche handed a drive through penalty for on track antics in response to contact with the #67 Ford. Tommy Milner got a great run out of turn three to run side by side the #911 Porsche on the long back straight. As they entered turn five, Milner displayed his racing expertise, allowing Pilet the inside line, knowing that the Porsche would go wide on the exit. Milner took the apex of turn five allowing him to position the #4 C7.R on the inside heading into turn six, where he completed the pass to secure third place. At the end of the same lap, the #52 Ligier went wide on the exit of turn 14, causing it to hit the left side wall and bounce across to the entrance of pit lane, where the car became stationary. This brought out another full course caution, which lasted 11 minutes to see racing go green again with only 32 minutes remaining. After the restart Garcia was able to make a pass on the #24 BMW as the #911 Porsche served its penalty, which moved Garcia from sixth to fourth place.
With 12 minutes remaining, Tommy Milner allowed Garcia to pass him for third place. Garcia was let loose to start hunting down the #67 Ford but with two minutes remaining the GTLM class leading #25 BMW started to run out of fuel. Westbrook in the #67 Ford passed for the lead and moments later Garcia went by to take second place. As the BMW struggled to the right side of turn 14 to enter pit lane, Tommy Milner went by to secure third place, however at turn 13 Garcia slowed allowing Milner to pass back by. Milner finished as the runner-up and Garcia finished third. It was another double podium for Corvette Racing and overall a great result. Garcia struggled to hide his frustration as he felt they had the car to win but ran out of time to catch the Ford.
Michelin GT Challenge Virginia
The tenth round of the 2018 season would be another GT only race at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Heading into the round the championship standings now saw Westbrook/Briscoe of the #67 Ford sitting in first place with 241 points. Sitting four points adrift was Garcia/Magnussen of the #3 Corvette and only five points behind them in third, was the second of the Fords, the #66 of Müller/Hand. Gavin and Milner had managed to separate themselves in the standings from the #912 Porsche by two points to take fourth place in the standings. With only three rounds remaining in the season, every point started to count. During qualifying the GTD cars were able to set their times on a dry circuit, however by the time the GTLM field went out on track, patchy rain soaked two-thirds of the 3.27-mile circuit. With the GTLM class running tricky condition it created a rare occurrence of the GTD cars out qualifying the GTLM field. Unfortunately for Corvette Racing, Richard Westbrook was able to put the championship leading #67 Ford on pole with a 1:55.580. The best efforts for Corvette Racing came at the hands of Antonio Garcia that posted a 1:56.760, placing the #3 Corvette in fourth place whereas Tommy Milner’s best time of 1:57.492 put the #4 C7.R on the sixth spot of the GTLM grid.
On race day, the weather seemed to be more predictable with clear skies surrounding the circuit. The past couple of race starts showed Garcia manage to get a great jump on the competition. This wasn’t the case at VIR as heading into turn one, Garcia dropped from fourth to sixth. At turn three both Corvettes were side by side heading into turn four, but Milner went very wide at turn four resulting in being side by side with the #912 Porsche at turn five. The two cars banged doors at the exit of the turn, with the Porsche getting the better of the contact, dropping Milner into last place in the GTLM class. Down the long back straight heading towards the Roller Coaster sequence of turns, Milner made a move to the right side of the #912 Porsche. Earl Bamber in the Porsche decided to move over to block the Corvette, which created contact, forcing Milner onto the grass. Milner did a 360 spin on the grass but managed to avoid the tire barrier to rejoin the circuit. Bamber at the expense of his antics suffered a right rear puncture, resulting in him spinning off at turn 15. The race stewards decided to hand Bamber a drive through penalty for moving over on Milner. Just six minutes into the race, the #3 Corvette was displaying better straight-line speed than the #911 Porsche ahead. Going down the back straight, Garcia was able to make a pass on the Porsche, heading into the Roller Coaster. The following lap, Garcia set the new fastest lap of the race, which resulted in him closing in on the rear of the third placed #25 BMW.
For the next 30 minutes, the drivers settled into the race, with little passing opportunities. At the 50-minute mark, Richard Westbrook was the first of the GTLM cars to pit from the race lead. The following lap, the new race leading #24 BMW pitted, whilst the #25 BMW and Garcia stayed out. At the same time the #67 Ford that had held most of the lead from the start pulled into pits again and started to head to the garage. The #25 BMW pitted, which handed Garcia the lead, until he pitted at the 56-minute mark to hand over to Magnussen at the same time as the #66 Ford. The Ford managed just to beat the Corvette out of pitlane, which resulted in Magnussen joining the circuit in sixth. At the 59-minute mark, Tommy Milner brought in the #4 to hand over to Oliver Gavin. Just ahead of Magnussen the battle for third place between the #66 Ford and #25 BMW erupted going into the Roller Coaster. The BMW made a mistake at the top of the hill after passing the Ford, which caused the BMW to cut across the grass. As the BMW rejoined the track at speed it made heavy contact with a GTD Lexus, sending both cars into a spin at turn 16. Magnussen quickly reacted to masterfully avoid the BMW facing the wrong way on the track, handing him third place. Just past the 90-minute mark of the race, the leading #911 Porsche pulled off the track with an engine issue at turn eight with smoke emerging from the rear. The stationary Porsche brought out the first full course caution of the day. The pits opened for the GTLM class, which saw the #66 Ford, #3 and #4 Corvette pit together. The #3 Corvette decided not to take on new tires, whilst the #4 opted to change for fresh rubber. The #3 had a short stop to top up on fuel, resulting in it leaving pit lane first to inherit second place. Oliver Gavin left his pit box right behind the #66 Ford to move up to fifth. Whilst under caution, the Chip Ganassi team managed to get the #67 Ford back out on track. With 74 minutes remaining, the race went back to green, which saw Vanthoor in the #912 Porsche get the jump on Magnussen forcing him to defend into turn one. After a few laps Magnussen managed to stretch out a 1.5 second gap, but it seemed the #3 Corvette didn’t have the pace of the #24 BMW in the lead. As the action at the front unfolded, drama was happening at the back. The Chip Ganassi team had decided to run the #67 Ford around to make up the laps lost to the #912 Porsche that had just retired. This would help the Ford in its championship fight as it would essentially inherit seventh place in the race, earning it an extra point. With 57 minutes remaining the #67 Ford had finally made up the laps lost to the #911 Porsche. Briscoe then brought the #67 back into the garage to officially retire the car. Two minutes later the #24 BMW race leader pitted along with the #912 Porsche. The Porsche managed to easily beat out the #24 BMW from pitlane by only taking on two tires. Four minutes later, Jan Magnussen pitted the #3 Corvette from the race lead just after the #4 pitted from third, handing over to Tommy Milner. Magnussen stayed in the car and only lost one position during the stop to come out right in front of the three-way, third-place battle between the #66 Ford, #912 Porsche and #24 BMW.
After the tires got up to temperature, Magnussen started to pull away from the battle behind, however he had a 45 second gap to close on the #25 BMW leading the race. Gradually Magnussen was chipping away at the BMW’s lead but realistically they needed another full course caution to be in for a chance of passing the BMW.With 37 minutes remaining, the #24 BMW helped out Corvette Racing in the championship fight by taking third place away from the #66 Ford. With 24 minutes remaining the #25 BMW pitted from the lead for a splash of fuel. Unfortunately for Magnussen, he was stuck behind the GTD class battle for the lead and couldn’t take advantage of the BMW’s stop. The gap had been closed to within nine seconds and on each lap, Magnussen was taking tenths out of the BMW’s lead. On the final lap the #25 BMW only held 3.1 second lead on Jan Magnussen who was holding off the #24 BMW. At the checkered flag, Alexander Sims won the race in the #25 BMW by only 1.3 seconds ahead of the Jan Magnussen. It was the first win for the M8 program within the BMW RLL team. Magnussen was pleased with the result but was frustrated knowing one more lap would have probably all that was needed for the win. Tommy Milner finished sixth after being off the pace due to aero damage suffered from the first lap incident. It was the seventh podium of the season for the #3 Corvette, which had moved them into the top spot of the GTLM standings by a four-point gap over the #67 Ford team.
Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix featuring America’s Tire 250
After round 10 at VIR, Garcia and Magnussen now sat at the top of the GTLM championship standings with 259 points. Westbrook and Briscoe had been demoted to second place with 265 points with their teammates, Müller and Hand holding third in the standings. Gavin and Milner had managed to hold onto fourth place with 252 points but were only one point ahead of Bamber and Vanthoor of the #912 Porsche. With only two races remaining the teams headed west to Monterey, California for the final two hour and 40-minute race of the year at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. With the championship being so tight, every team wanted to ensure they had put themselves in the best position to win, subsequently making Saturday’s qualifying session so important. Throughout the C7.R era, Corvette Racing hadn’t really focused on qualifying as they typically utilized strategy throughout the race to succeed. Despite only achieving one win thus far in 2018, the C7.R was very competitive amongst the GTLM field. This pace improvement was displayed in qualifying yet again with Oliver Gavin securing pole position in the #4 car, posting a best laptime of 1:22.700. The two Corvettes were split by the #66 Ford GT as Dirk Müller setting a time of 1:22.787, with Magnussen putting the #3 in third place with a time of 1:22.806.
The race started on Sunday with a huge accident at the green flag, involving a prototype and two of the GTLM cars. The #5 Action Express Cadillac DP got on the throttle a little early, which created a reaction from the #99 Oreca DP behind. As the #5 attempted to avoid the back of the car ahead, he was hit by the #99 behind, causing his Cadillac to spin. The GTLM cars behind were all on the gas pedal, with both Corvettes taking to the right of the track avoiding the stationary #5 facing the wrong direction. Unfortunately for the #66 Ford of Müller, he was unable to react in time and hit the #5, which resulted in the right front wheel and suspension being ripped from the Ford. The impact from the Ford spun the #5 clockwise, which the #911 of Nick Tandy was unable to see and he T-boned the Cadillac. Tandy was able to get his Porsche moving again and took it back to the garage, whilst the Cadillac and Ford were taken off by flatbed trucks. With the amount of carbon fiber shards and debris on the front straight, the full course caution ate into the first 15 minutes of the race. The restart was immediately cut short by the GTD field at the exit of turn 11, which brought out another full course caution. The #14 Lexus GTD went wide at the exit of the final turn, resulting in it spinning in front of the #96 BMW. As the two cars were heading towards the right-side wall, Katherine Legge in the #86 Acura was collected. The Lexus was able to escape with minor damage to the right-side rocker panel, whilst the front bodywork of the Acura was torn up. The BMW was able to get moving again with minimum damage to the right front. At the second restart, 32 minutes had passed since the official race start, however not even one lap of racing had been completed.
After a few minutes of racing, Gavin was able to pull a two second lead on the #3 Corvette that had generated a one second gap from the #25 BMW behind. At the 40-minute mark of the race, only eight minutes after the restart, the #10 Cadillac DP became stationary at the top of hill heading towards the Corkscrew, bringing out the third full course yellow of the race. Just as the yellow flags came out the whole GTLM field all managed to get into pit lane before they became closed. Both Corvettes stopped for fuel and tires, but due to the allocation of the pit boxes, the #3 stopped in front of the #4. As Gavin’s pit stop was completed in the #4, he had to wait for the #3 in front as the gap between the two cars was too tight. This resulted in Magnussen leaving pit lane ahead of Gavin. Due to the #912 Porsche and #24 BMW pitting during the previous caution period, they stayed out to inherit first and second in class. Seven minutes later the race went back to green with the GTD and GTLM field mixed together. As the GTLM cars were making their way through the GTD leaders, the #4 Corvette and #67 Ford exited turn two side by side. The Ford bumped the #3 twice at the exit of turn two, however the Ford got the worst of the contact, breaking its right front suspension forcing it to go straight off at turn three. Müller managed to get the Ford back to pit lane, but the car would require major repairs.
There was a large gap from the front two GTLM cars, but Magnussen was gradually closing it down. With 82 minutes remaining the #96 BMW GTD became stationary on track resulting in the fourth full course yellow. Unfortunately for Jan Magnussen he just entered the pits as they closed, therefore he was forced to drive straight through pit lane without stopped. With 76 minutes remaining, both Corvettes pitted and changed drivers. Garcia in the #3 left before Milner in the #4 yet again due to the pit box allocation. The race went back to green with 70 minutes to go. Garcia was right behind the GTLM class leader of the #24 BMW. Within the first lap of the restart, Garcia was able to pass by for the lead at turn six. With just over an hour remaining, and some 51 laps later, Chip Ganassi Racing had repaired the #66 Ford to get it back out on track to earn some very important championship points. At the one-hour mark, the Ford then retired after completing enough laps to officially inherit seventh position over the retired #911 Porsche. With 48 minutes remaining Tommy Milner pitted the #4 Corvette for fuel only, then three minutes later the #3 Corvette pitted for fuel only. Garcia was running fourth with Milner in fifth as they awaited their competitors to make their final stops. With eight minutes remaining the #24 BMW from first in GTLM, finally stopped for a splash of fuel. As the BMW was leaving pit lane, Garcia managed to get by him for third place with Milner behind sandwiching the BMW. The #25 BMW managed to conserve fuel and take the GTLM victory. The #3 Corvette finished third for its seventh podium of the year with the #4 taking fifth. It was another frustrating race as Corvette Racing gambled with their strategy after the carnage of the first 40 minutes of the race. They did not believe that anyone could make it to the end on fuel, but the BMW and Porsche made the right call on strategy early in the race. Garcia/Magnussen and the #3 Corvette held the championship heading into the season finale.
Motul Petit Le Mans
As the 2018 season drew to a close, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen found themselves in a familiar spot as they went into the season finale fighting for back-to-back titles. With 299 points, Garcia/Magnussen and the #3 Corvette held a nine-point lead on Westbrook/Briscoe of the #67 Ford. Unfortunately for Gavin and Milner they had dropped to fifth in the standings being overtaken by Bamber and Vanthoor of the #912 Porsche that extended their gap to five points. After qualifying the new BMW M8 in its inaugural season had shown its progression throughout the year and was able to snatch pole position in GTLM posting a laptime of 1:17.006 at the hands of John Edwards. Antonio Garcia was able to get the #3 C7.R on the front row with a time of 1:17.030. To homage how close the GTLM battle had been all year Tommy Milner posted a time of 1:17.451. Despite being within half a second of the pole lap, the #4 Corvette would be eighth fastest only one spot ahead of the #62 Ferrari 488 GTE that had missed most of the season. For the third driver role Marcel Fåssler was once again called upon, however this time he would be serving as the third driver in both Corvettes, taking turns to pilot both cars.
On race day, the team needed in fourth place to take the title. At the race start, Antonio Garcia was able to get a great run out of turn 12, to get on the inside of the #24 BMW. Going into turn one, with better track position, Garcia was able to make a move stick to take the GTLM class lead. Within the opening minutes of the race, Tommy Milner was able to make up a position into seventh, by passing the #25 BMW. Only a few laps later, Milner was able to take sixth place away from the #66 Ford and was closing in on the #911 Porsche ahead. By the 15-minute mark, Milner had passed the Porsche to advance into fifth in class. By the 30-minute mark, Garcia had pulled out a lead of almost four second. Milner was certainly the man on the move in GTLM, as by the 32-minute mark he passed the #67 Ford on the back straight heading into turn nine to take fourth position.
With 56 minutes completed Milner brought in the #4 from third place with Garcia pitting the following lap from the lead, both for fuel and tires only. After the pit stops had played out the #912 Porsche that had pitted earlier had taken advantage of fresh tires and inherited the lead from Garcia. The first full course caution came out at the 66-minute mark as a prototype had gone off at turn three. The race went back to green at the 82-minute mark, with Garcia leading the charge for Corvette Racing sitting in third with the #4 right behind. A second full course caution came out at the one hour, 47-minute mark, due to an incident in the GTD class entering turn one. Corvette Racing took advantage of the yellow flag period and pitted for fuel, tires and driver changes. Magnussen and Gavin took over driver duties and were split by the #911 Porsche in pit lane. Two minutes before the two-hour mark, the race went back to green with the #3 car running third and #4 in fifth.
As Gavin settled into his stint, he managed to move into fourth right behind the sister #3 Corvette. The #67 Ford, that did not stop during the yellow flag period, pitted from the lead, moving the Corvettes into second and third. The racing would be cut short as the third full course caution came out 23 minutes into the second hour due to a prototype that had gone off track. The GTLM cars pitted, mixing up the positions. With 107 laps completed, the race went back to green, with the #66 Ford, that did not pit, now held the lead in GTLM. The #3 Corvette was running in second and the #4 in fourth behind the #67 Ford. With just over three hours passed the #66 Ford from the class lead pitted handing Magnussen first place and Gavin third. The #4 would pit 15 minutes later, for tires, fuel and driver change back to Tommy Milner. Milner rejoined the circuit right behind the #24 BMW in seventh position. Two minutes later the #3 would pit from first place, for fuel, tires and to hand over to Marcel Fässler for his first laps of the 2018 Petit Le Mans. As Fässler left pitlane the #67 Ford pitted from the lead. The #3 managed to only lose two positions during its pit stop, however the #67 Ford got the better of the stops and managed to rejoin in second position behind the sister #66 Ford. At the four-hour mark an exciting three-way battle for fourth place erupted between the #912 Porsche, #24 BMW and #4 Corvette. The BMW was the first to get by the Porsche with the #4 Corvette copying a lap later. Milner battled with the BMW for almost an hour as they pitted at the same time. The Corvette Racing pit crew pulled off a flawless stop as they had become known for and managed to get the #4 out in front of the BMW. Shortly after with 37 minutes to go before the halfway mark of the 10 hour race, Fässler brought in the #3 Corvette from second place for fuel and tires only. Fässler rejoined the track amongst the GTLM battle for third place, which involved the #4 Corvette. Fässler on cold tires let the competitors by, allowing the Milner to continue his battle with the #24 BMW.
With 17 minutes to go before the halfway mark, the fourth full course yellow came out due to a prototype suffering from the right rear suspension collapsing. During the yellow flag period, the GTLM leaders decided to pit together. The two Corvettes opted for fuel, tires and driver changes, with Gavin taking over the #4 and Garcia jumping back into the #3. The two Corvettes beat out the #912 Porsche but not any other competitor, which placed them in fourth and fifth. The GTLM leaders all back together raced hard, with Garcia getting around the #66 Ford six minutes after the restart to claim third in class. The following lap the #66 Ford dropped more positions to the #4 Corvette and #912 Porsche, moving Oliver Gavin into fourth behind his teammate. The second placed #24 BMW was yet again to be involved in a fight with the two Corvettes for position. The BMW was not able to hold off Garcia for long, as the #3 made a nice pass down the back straight heading towards turn nine. This created an opening for Gavin at the bottom of the hill heading into turn 10A. Coming out of the right hander of 10B, Gavin was able to stick the nose of his #4 Corvette on the inside of the BMW, which forced the BMW to take the slower line through the fast and tricky sequence of turn 11 and 12 making it Corvette second and third.
With four and half hours remaining, a few of the GTLM cars including Gavin in the #4 made pit stops. Out on track Garcia had managed to take the lead away from the #67 Ford. A few minutes later, the #3 pitted from the lead with four hours and 25 minutes remaining. Magnussen would take over the #3 Corvette, that would re-enter the track just behind the #4 Corvette in seventh place. With a lot of the GTLM cars now running on staggered pit stops from each other, the track order had changed. At the six-hour mark it was the #912 Porsche leading, with the #4 Corvette in second. The #67 Ford held third with the #3 Corvette running right behind in fourth. Oliver Gavin was quickly closing in on the back of the class leading Porsche as Magnussen was sneaking up on the championship rival #67 Ford. With just over three and half hours remaining, the GTLM leading #912 Porsche and the second placed #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin pitted at the same time. In typical Corvette Racing fashion, the pit crew were able to get the #4 out ahead of the Porsche. Marcel Fässler took over from Oliver Gavin for his first stint in the #4 Corvette to join the track, seventh in class. Two minutes later the GTLM championship fight would enter pit road as the #67 Ford and #3 Corvette pitted together. The Corvette Racing pit crew managed to win another pit lane battle and get the #3 out ahead of the championship rival, however, out on track, Westbrook would manage to get his #67 Ford back by the #3 Corvette. The #4 Corvette would inherit the lead from the #911 Porsche that had pitted just before the seven hour mark, whilst the #3 was running in fourth. With two hours and 46 minutes remaining, the #62 Risi Competizione GTLM Ferrari spun out at turn six into the gravel, bringing out the fifth full course caution. Six minutes later, pits would open allowing the lead four cars in GTLM to pit together. Magnussen would hand the #3 over to Garcia and the Milner would take over the #4. As Everything was looking set for a great finish for the #3, Garcia lost the rear end on cold tires at the exit of pit lane. The #3 went head on into the right-side wall, but Garcia managed to get the #3 around for the rest of the lap to bring the battle scared Corvette into the garage for repairs. Suddenly the GTLM title was on the line.
Within three minutes and 45 seconds the Corvette Racing crew were able to replace the whole front bodywork of the #3 including front splitter and undertray. The race went back to green as Garcia would rejoin the track in ninth place three laps down from the GTLM leaders. To the win the championship, the #3 finishing in ninth, needed the #67 Ford to finish no higher than third. As the sun started to set, more drama in GTLM would ensue as the class leading #912 Porsches was handed a penalty due to hitting a GTD car. As the #912 served its penalty, the #67 Ford moved up into second. With 100 minutes remaining the race had gone to fully dark as Tommy Milner pitted for fuel and tires. Six minutes later, a full course yellow came out due to the #52 Oreca DP becoming stationary with damage to the rear. The race went back to green with 83 minutes remaining, as Garcia was able to get one lap back from the GTLM leaders. With 76 minutes remaining Garcia was able to pass the #62 Ferrari for eighth in class, helping earn more points towards their championship hopes. The #67 Ford was leading the race, however the top four GTLM cars were running together including the #4 Corvette, that was aiming to help the sister Corvette. The top four GTLM cars were running within 1.5 seconds of each other. The #911 Porsche from third place made a failed attempt to pass the #24 BMW ahead. This allowed Milner behind to get a better run out of turn seven onto the back straight. The Corvette and Porsche ran side by side to turn 10A, but the Porsche held the inside line and was able to protect the position. With 54 minutes remaining, the #24 BMW managed to get by the #67 Ford as the #911 Porsche made its final pitstop. Milner was now right behind the #67 Ford and had an opportunity to help win the championship for the sister car. Five minutes later the #15 Lexus GTD car lost the rear entering turn seven. The top three GTLM cars pitted for their final stops as the Lexus was getting back on track. The Corvette Racing pit crew managed to pull off yet again, another phenomenal pit stop getting the #4 out just in front of the BMW and Ford. Milner was now second in class behind the #911 Porsche that had pitted earlier, with the #67 Ford behind. With 39 minutes remaining, the #3 Corvette made its final pitstop of the season. If Garcia finished in eighth and Milner held the Ford in third, they would win the championship. As Garcia left the pits, Milner put in his best lap of the race and extended a four second gap on the #67 Ford. As drama happened at the finish line in the Prototype class, Milner finished second to the #911 Porsche with the #67 Ford taking fifth. Garcia finished eighth to secure the championship by six points.
Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and the #3 Corvette Racing team had won back-to-back GTLM championships, the first back-to-back drivers championship within the C7.R era.. The 2018 title would mark the third consecutive championship for Corvette Racing. Despite the #3 team not accomplishing a single victory throughout 2018, they managed eight podiums including six straight throughout the second half of the season. As a team, Corvette Racing collected a combined 12 podiums, including one win at Long Beach from the #4 Corvette. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner managed to finish the season in third place behind the #67 Ford of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook. In the manufacturer’s championship, Chevrolet finished second behind Ford by a six point deficit. It may have not been the most successful year for the team in terms of wins, but the #3 team stayed incredibly consistent all year within a very tight season.
6 Hours of Shanghai
Despite the championship being over for Corvette Racing, there was still one more race remaining. The following month, Corvette Racing headed to Asia for the first time for a single car entry in the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Shanghai. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner were selected to pilot their 2016 championship winning car of chassis C7RGT-004. Chassis C7RGT-004 had not seen action since it was badly damaged in a fire at the 2017 Roar Before the 24. Wearing #64 like at Le Mans, the C7.R would not be dressed in the Corvette Racing Yellow as we had become accustomed to, but a special Redline livery. On November 1st, the team unveiled their Redline livery, being predominantly silver with black accents and red lines across the front splitter, side skirts and surrounding the black stinger hood. With China being the second biggest market for Chevrolet, the Redline livery was to promote the series of Redline production vehicle in China.
Tommy Milner had competed in a WEC event before (outside of the Le Mans 24 Hours) back in 2014 at the Circuit of the Americas. The team were heading into the race at Shanghai as the underdog. They would be running on a circuit with no previous data, as well as competing on the WEC specification Michelin tire. The team ran the tire at Le Mans, however, the rest of the WEC GTE Pro grid had competed a full season on the tire. The team would face more challenges leading up to the race with practice and qualifying sessions taking place under mixed conditions. Despite the confidence in the pace of the C7.R’s in the wet, the team were unable to dial in a good setup with no previous data to rely on.
With a total of twelve cars in the GTE Pro class, Corvette Racing qualified 11th, setting a time of 1:59.802. The #66 Ford GT of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK took pole in GTE Pro, posting a time of 1:58.464. Tommy Milner drove the opening three hours and 20 minutes but did not see green flag racing until 75 minutes after the official race start. With standing water on the circuit, the first 15 minutes of the race ran under full-course yellows followed by a stoppage that lasted almost an hour. The race would finally go green, but it would be short lived as 10 minutes later the yellows would come back out due to track conditions. The yellow flag period would last 10 minutes until the race was stopped again for almost 35 minutes. The race would finally restart again with over two hours passing since the race had officially started. After consistent green flag racing, Milner would be one of the first of the GTE Pro cars to make a stop for fuel, just shy of the two hour and 30 minute mark.
The track conditions started to gradually improve, which Milner was able to take advantage of and make his way up into the top five. With just over two hours and 40 minutes remaining, Milner would hand over the #64 Corvette to Oliver Gavin. The track conditions continued to improve, which played in favor to the competition that had more experience with the track and the feedback from the tire. Gavin would struggle for grip but managed to keep consistent lap times as the weather started to worsen again. In the closing hour of the race, darkness started to consume the track, which brought with it mist making visibility difficult. Oliver Gavin brought the #64 Redline Corvette across the finish line in eighth place. It was not the ideal result however an improvement over the position the team started in. The 2018 season was wrapped up in Asia, as the team prepared to head into the final year of the C7.R and the front-engine Corvette.
|Race||Race Date||Race Distance (time)||Track||Car Number||Class Position||Overall Position||Start Position||Drivers||Laps Completed||Fastest Lap||Series||Class|
|Rolex 24 at Daytona||January 27 – 28 2018||24 Hours||Daytona International Speedway||3||3||13||1||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen / Mike Rockenfeller||781||1:44.517||IMSA||GTLM|
|Rolex 24 at Daytona||January 27 – 28 2018||24 Hours||Daytona International Speedway||4||4||14||6||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner / Marcel Fässler||780||1:44.437||IMSA||GTLM|
|Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring||March 17 2018||12 Hours||Sebring International Raceway||4||6||15||9||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner / Marcel Fässler||327||1:58.648||IMSA||GTLM|
|Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring||March 17 2018||12 Hours||Sebring International Raceway||3||8||36||7||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen / Mike Rockenfeller||283||1:58.605||IMSA||GTLM|
|BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach||April 14 2018||100 Minutes||Long Beach Street Circuit||4||1||11||5||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||69||1:17.783||IMSA||GTLM|
|BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach||April 14 2018||100 Minutes||Long Beach Street Circuit||3||4||14||4||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||69||1:17.822||IMSA||GTLM|
|Acura Sports Car Challenge Mid-Ohio||May 6 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||3||3||16||5||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||118||1:19.776||IMSA||GTLM|
|Acura Sports Car Challenge Mid-Ohio||May 6 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course||4||8||21||8||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||118||1:19.843||IMSA||GTLM|
|86th Edition des 24 Heures du Mans||June 16 – 17 2018||24 Hours||Circuit de la Sarthe||63||4||18||9||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen / Mike Rockenfeller||342||3:49.448||ACO||GTE Pro|
|86th Edition des 24 Heures du Mans||June 16 -17 2018||24 Hours||Circuit de la Sarthe||64||DNF, Overheated||DNF, Overheated||14||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner / Marcel Fässler||259||3:50.981||ACO||GTE Pro|
|Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen||July 1 2018||6 Hours||Watkins Glen International||3||2||14||4||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||190||1:43.666||IMSA||GTLM|
|Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen||July 1 2018||6 Hours||Watkins Glen International||4||5||17||3||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||189||1:43.982||IMSA||GTLM|
|Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix||July 8 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||3||2||11||3||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||112||1:15.428||IMSA||GTLM|
|Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix||July 8 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||4||3||12||5||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||112||1:15.169||IMSA||GTLM|
|Northeast Grand Prix Lime Rock||July 21 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Lime Rock Park||3||2||2||1||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||178||51.181||IMSA||GTLM|
|Northeast Grand Prix Lime Rock||July 21 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Lime Rock Park||4||4||4||3||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||178||51.248||IMSA||GTLM|
|Continental Tire Road Race Showcase Road America||August 5 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Road America, Elkhart Lake||4||2||14||5||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||66||2:04.137||IMSA||GTLM|
|Continental Tire Road Race Showcase Road America||August 5 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Road America, Elkhart Lake||3||3||15||3||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||66||2:03.780||IMSA||GTLM|
|Michelin GT Challenge Virginia||August 19 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Virginia International Raceway||3||2||2||4||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||88||1:42.725||IMSA||GTLM|
|Michelin GT Challenge Virginia||August 19 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||Virginia International Raceway||4||6||6||7||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||88||1:43.504||IMSA||GTLM|
|Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix featuring America's Tire 250||September 9 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca||3||3||12||3||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen||100||1:23.349||IMSA||GTLM|
|Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix featuring America's Tire 250||September 9 2018||2 Hours 40 Minutes||WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca||4||5||14||1||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||100||1:23.519||IMSA||GTLM|
|Motul Petit Le Mans||October 13 2018||10 Hours||Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta||4||2||13||8||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner / Marcel Fässler||419||1:18.026||IMSA||GTLM|
|Motul Petit Le Mans||October 13 2018||10 Hours||Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta||3||8||19||2||Antonio Garcia / Jan Magnussen / Marcel Fässler||417||1:17.977||IMSA||GTLM|
|6 Hours of Shanghai||November 18 2018||6 Hours||Shanghai Audi International Circuit||64||8||17||11||Oliver Gavin / Tommy Milner||109||2:16.012||FIA||GTE Pro|
#3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Drivers 2018 (#63 used for Le Mans)
Antonio Garcia took over full time driving duties with Corvette Racing in 2012, replacing Olivier Berretta. In his first full season with the team he helped Corvette Racing accomplish five class podium finishes, which played a major part in handing Corvette Racing their ninth ALMS Manufactures Championship.
In 2018, Garcia entered his seventh season as a full time driver for Corvette Racing. The following season, Garcia and driving partner Jan Magnussen swept the 2017 GTLM Championship after scoring six podiums, which included three wins. As the competition within the GTLM class improved, Garcia was ready to fight for his third championship. Throughout the 2018 season, Garcia and Magnussen displayed the potential of the C7.R, however failed to take a win for the first time since 2012. Despite going winless, Garcia was able to stay incredibly consistent and collected eight podiums, with six of them being second place finishes. This was enough to seal the championship at the final round of the season, to make Garcia a three-time champion along with earning Corvette Racing their 13th title.
Garcia is regarded as one of the best GT drivers in the world. He has claimed multiple victories at the biggest endurance races in world such as Le Mans, Sebring and Daytona. Garcia won back-to-back IMSA titles in 2017 and 2018 and has never finished lower than third in points dating back to his first full season with Corvette Racing in 2012.
- Birthdate: June 5th, 1980
- Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
- Residence: Barcelona, Spain
- Family: wife and two children
- Corvette Racing: 2009 – Present
Notable Career Highlights
- 2013 ALMS GT Champion
- 2017 and 2018 IMSA GTLM WeatherTech Champion
- 24 Hours of Le Mans winner – 2008-09 (GT1), 2011 (GTE Pro)
- Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona winner – 2009 (Overall), 2015 (GTLM)
- Sebring 12 Hours winner – 2009 (GT1), 2015 (GTLM), 2017 (GTLM)
Jan Magnussen entered his thirteenth season with Corvette Racing in 2018. Since being paired with Antonio Garcia in 2012, Magnussen had not finished lower than third in the standings. The previous year, Magnussen swept the 2017 GTLM Championship making him a three time champion with Corvette Racing. Going into 2018, Magnussen and driving partner Antonio Garcia were looking to defend their title in a close GTLM class. Magnussen would go the full season without a win for the first time since 2012. Despite going winless, Magnussen accomplished eight podiums, which was enough to take his fourth title earning Corvette Racing their thirteenth championship.
Magnussen started his racing career in 1990 racing single-seaters. In 1994 Magnussen won the British Formula 3 Championship with Paul Stewart Racing breaking Ayrton Senna’s record of most wins in a single season, capturing 14 wins out of 18 races.
Magnussen would become a Formula 1 test driver for McLaren before competing in DTM and International Touring Car Championship between 1995 and 1996, where he finished second in the 1996 ITC Championship. Magnussen would become a full time Formula 1 driver for the Stewart Grand Prix team in 1997, where he would accomplish a career best sixth place finish at the Montreal Grand Prix in 1998.
Magnussen joined Panoz Motorsports in 1999 to compete in the ALMS where he captured six wins. He would become part of the Corvette- Ferrari rivalry in 2003, driving the Prodrive Ferrari and would join Corvette Racing the following year.
A legend in Denmark, his aggressive racing style and take-no-prisoners mentality made him very popular with the fans. Magnussen became a full time driver with Corvette Racing in 2007 and throughout his time with the team, accomplished 35 wins. In 2008 Magnussen became the ALMS GT1 Driver Champion with teammate Johnny O’connell and would win the IMSA GT Drivers Championship with Antonio Garcia in 2013.
- Birthdate: July 4th, 1973
- Birthplace: Roskilde, Denmark
- Residence: Roskilde, Denmark
- Family: Wife Christina, sons Kevin and Luca, daughter Millie
- Corvette Racing: 2004-2019
Notable Career Highlights
- Two time ALMS Driver Champion – 2008 (GT1), 2013 (GT)
- Two time IMSA WeatherTech GTLM Champion – 2017, 2018
- Four time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner – 2004 (GTS), 2005, 2006, 2009 (GT1)
- Rolex 24 at Daytona GTLM class winner – 2015
- Five time 12 Hours of Sebring class winner – 2006, 2008, 2009 (GT1), 2015, 2017 (GTLM)
- ALMS “Most Popular Driver” – 2001, 2003, 2011, 2013
Mike Rockenfeller (Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans)
Mike Rockenfeller joined Corvette Racing for his third year as the third driver of the #3 Corvette C7.R. Throughout the 2018 season, Rockenfeller helped Garcia and Magnussen take third place at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and a hard fought fourth place at Le Mans. Mike would not join the team for the Petit Le Mans, with his seat being replaced by Marcel Fässler at the season finale.
Rockenfeller is considered one of the most accomplished drivers of his generation, with a résumé that boasts a DTM Championship and wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Spa 24 Hours and the Nürbürgring 24 Hours.
Nicknamed “Rocky”, Mike Rockenfeller started racing in go-karts at the age of 11, where he was also his own mechanic. At the age of 18 he became a Porsche Junior driver to be promoted the following year to a full Porsche works driver. In 2005 Rockenfeller won six races in the FIA GT series including the Spa 24 Hours to become the GT champion. He would also win within the same year the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2007, Rocky would join the DTM series driving for Audi Sport Team Rosberg and raced for the Audi factory team in the Audi R10 TDi at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The following year Mike would become the LMP1 champion in the Le Mans Series with Audi Sport Team Joest. After multiple attempts, Rockenfeller would finally become the overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010 driving the Audi R15 TDi Plus. In 2013, Rockenfeller accomplished two victories and multiple runner-up finishes in the DTM series to become the champion.
To date Rocky races for Abt Sportsline in the DTM series as well as for Action Express Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driving a Cadillac DPi-V.R.
- Birthdate: October 31st, 1983
- Birthplace: Neuwied, Germany
- Residence: Landschlacht, Switzerland
- Family: Wife Susanne, sons Phil and Paul, daughter Stella
- Corvette Racing: 2016-2019
Notable Career Highlights
- German Carrera Cup Champion – 2004
- FIA GT Champion – 2005 (GT)
- Le Mans Series Champion – 2008 (LMP1)
- 24 Hours of Le Mans winner – 2005 (GT2), 2010 (LMP1)
- Rolex 24 at Daytona winner – 2010 (DP)
- DTM Champion – 2013
- Twelve Hours of Sebring winner – 2017 (GTLM)
Marcel Fässler (Petit Le Mans)
Fässler would act as the third driver for both the #3 and #4 Corvette C7.R at the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Petit Le Mans season finale saw Fässler pilot the #4 Corvette during the first half of the 10 hour race and then the #3 just before the halfway point. During his stint in both cars, he was able to put in consistent lap times and maintain position during a tight race. Ultimately Fässler played a big part in helping the #3 Corvette win the 2018 championship.
#4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Drivers 2018 (#64 used for WEC events)
The 2018 season became Oliver Gavin’s 16th year with Corvette Racing. Coming off a tough 2017 season amounting to only one podium, Gavin was looking for redemption in 2018.
Gavin would accomplish the 107th win for Corvette Racing at the third round of the season at Long Beach. This would be the only win of the season for Corvette Racing throughout 2018, however the team would achieve a combined 12 podiums. Oliver Gavin would take his second podium of the season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park behind the sister #3 car that finished second. Gavin would take second place at Road America ahead of the sister car and took a well earned second place at the Petit Le Mans, helping the sister car win the championship. Throughout 2018, Gavin took four podiums and one pole position to finish third in the standings.
Gavin would be selected along with Tommy Milner to drive the #64 Redline Corvette C7.R at the FIA World Endurance Championship final round at Shanghai China. Throughout the six hour race Gavin struggled for grip but managed to finish eighth amongst a 12 car field.
Oliver Gavin would become the most successful and longest-serving driver in Corvette Racing history. With 51 victories and five championships as part of the program, Gavin ranks as one of the most accomplished drivers in IMSA history. His Corvette Racing record included wins at Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona and Petit Le Mans. Gavin would win two championships with co-driver Tommy Milner (2012 and 2016) and would become the longest-running driver pairing in IMSA history at the time of the start of the 2020 season.
- Birthdate: September 29th, 1972
- Birthplace: Huntington, England
- Residence: Yardley Hastings, England
- Family: Wife Helen; children Lily, Isaac, Fergus
- Corvette Racing: 2002-2020
Notable Career Highlights
- 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM Champion
- Four-time ALMS champion – 2005-07 (GTS/GT1), 2012 (GT)
- Five class wins in 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2002, 2004-06 (GTS/GT1), 2015 (GTLM Pro)
- Six class wins at 12 Hours of Sebring – 2001-02 (GTS), 2006-07 (GT1), 2013 (GT), 2016 (GTLM)
- Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona winner – 2016 (GTLM)
Tommy Milner entered his seventh season with Corvette Racing in 2018. After sweeping the 2016 GTLM Championship, Milner ran into a lot of bad luck throughout 2017 to have one of his worst years, accomplishing only one podium. The 2018 season would be much better for Milner with a win at Long Beach and a total of four podiums. Milner would allow Antonio Garcia in the sister #3 car pass by at the Road America to help in the championship fight. However, one the final lap, Garcia would give back the position allowing Milner to finish second. Milner drove really well during the Petit Le Mans, moving the #4 Corvette up from eighth to fifth within the opening 15 minutes of the race. Milner would finish that race in second place, which helped his teammates of Magnussen and Garcia win the 2018 GTLM Championship.
Milner would pilot the #64 Redline Corvette C7.R at the FIA World Endurance Championship final round at Shanghai, China. Milner started the race in 11th and managed to get upto fifth in class. By the end of the race the C7.R struggled for grip and went on to finish eighth.
A second-generation racer, Milner is son of noted team owner Tom Milner. Tommy Milner’s passion for racing started at a young age watching his fathers race team. Following success in go-karts Milner was chosen as one of the six North American drivers in Formula BMW USA junior drivers program in 2004. Later in the same year Milner made his sports car racing debut in the Grand-Am series with his father’s team, which paired him with former Corvette Racing driver Kelly Collins.
In 2006 Tommy Milner joined the American Le Mans Series driving for the Panoz Team PTG program in the GT2 class. In 2009 Milner became a full time driver with Rahal-Letterman to drive the new BMW M3 E92 GT where he accomplished three runner-up finishes and again the following season before joining Corvette Racing.
Since joining the team in 2011, Milner has won Le Mans twice, claimed two Drivers Championships and taken victories at Daytona and Sebring. Milner has competed in Formula and sports car series with distinction for factory-affiliated teams such as BMW and Chevrolet. His partnership with Oliver Gavin covered nine years making them the longest-running teammates in IMSA up to date.
- Birthdate: January 26th, 1986
- Birthplace: Washington D.C.
- Residence: Ashton, Virginia
- Family: Wife Lauren
- Corvette Racing: 2011 – Present
Notable Career Highlights
- Two-time class Driver’s Champion – 2012 (ALMS GT), 2016 (IMSA WeatherTech GTLM)
- Two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner – 2011 and 2015 (GTE Pro)
- Two-time 12 Hours of Sebring class winner – 2013 (GT) and 2016 (GTLM)
- Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona class winner – 2016 (GTLM)
Marcel Fässler (Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans)
Marcel Fässler made his debut with Corvette Racing in 2009 in the role of the third driver for endurance races. After a six year absence, Fässler returned to Corvette Racing in 2016 as a third driver for three of the four endurance races. Fässler would join Corvette Racing for his third consecutive year in the third driver role.
Unfortunately at the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours the podium was taken away from Fässler in the last few hours of the race due to transmission failure. This was not Fässler’s first time behind the wheel of a Corvette race car as previously he had competed in the FIA GT Championship 24 Hours of Spa taking victory in the Carsport C6.R in 2008. Fässler went on to race a full season with Phoenix alongside Jean-Denis Deletraz in the C6.R taking one victory at Bucharest and five pole positions. Fässler redeemed himself at Le Mans later in 2010 when he finished second and then won the race overall with Audi in an R18 in 2011, 2012 and again in 2014.
Fässler helped Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner sweep the 2016 championship by earning wins at Daytona and Sebring and a third place at Petit Le Mans. At the 2017 ‘Roar Before the 24’, Fässler was behind the wheel of the #4 when a fire broke out. Fässler was able to escape the unharmed, however chassis C7RGT-004 was out for the year.
Throughout the 2018 season, Fässler was unable to accomplish a podium in his first three races for Corvette Racing, however he would take second place at the Petit Le Mans as part of the #4 crew. Fässler was selected for the third driver role in both the #3 and #4 Corvette at the Petit Le Mans.
- Birthdate: May 27th, 1976
- Birthplace: Einsiedeln, Switzerland
- Residence: Gross, Switzerland
- Family: Wife Isabel
- Corvette Racing: 2009, 2016 – 2020
Notable Career Highlights
- Runner-up German Formula 3 Championship – 1999
- DTM race winner – 2003
- Runner-up FIA GT 24 Hours of Spa – 2006
- Winner FIA GT 24 Hours of Spa – 2007 (Overall)
- Runner-up 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2010 (Overall)
- Winner 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2011, 2012 and 2014 (Overall)
- Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona class winner – 2016 (GTLM)