CORVETTE RACING AT ROAD ATLANTA: Up-Front Starts for Championship Pushes
Front-row start in GT Le Mans for Garcia, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
GTLM Championship leaders Gavin, Milner to start seventh in class
Chevrolet claims GTLM, Prototype Manufacturer titles with race start
Cameron leads Corvette DP contingent with third in Prototype for Action Express Racing
BRASELTON, Ga. (Sept. 30, 2016) – Corvette Racing will race for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class titles in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from the first and fourth rows following an intensely close qualifying session Friday for Petit Le Mans powered by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort at Road Atlanta.
Antonio Garcia was second-fastest in GTLM with a lap of 1:18.283 (116.8 mph) in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. His time was just 0.152 seconds off the pole-winning time, and the 10 cars in class were within 0.735 seconds.
Tommy Milner set a best lap of 1:18.468 (116.5 mph) in the GTLM championship-leading No. 4 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to place seventh. He and Oliver Gavin lead the Driver’s Championship – as does the No. 4 Corvette in the Team standings – by 11 points.
At stake in Saturday’s 10-hour race is a sweep of the three GTLM titles. Chevrolet will win its 11th Manufacturer title in the production-based ranks as long as one of the two Corvette C7.Rs take the start. The Bowtie Brand already is the GTLM class’s most successful manufacturer since 2014 with 11 class victories.
Milner and Oliver Gavin, who will drive with Marcel Fässler, need a seventh-place finish Saturday to secure their second Driver’s Championship together; they won the American Le Mans Series’ GT title in 2012. The trio in the No. 4 Corvette swept the first two races this season at Daytona and Sebring while the Milner/Gavin duo won at Lime Rock and Road America.
Garcia and Jan Magnussen, who will team with Mike Rockenfeller, are in a points race of their own. A runner-up finish Saturday would give them third place in the class with an overall victory at VIR last month to their credit. Garcia and Magnussen also were second at Daytona and Lime Rock to their teammates.
In the Prototype class, Dane Cameron was the fastest Corvette Daytona Prototype driver with a lap of 1:13.903 (123.7 mph) in Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Tem Fox Corvette DP. He and Eric Curran, who are driving this weekend with newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud, lead the Prototype Driver’s standings by one point.
The scenario for a Chevrolet Engine Manufacturer’s Championship in Prototype is the same as in GT Le Mans – one of the four Corvette DPs need only to take the start. It would be the program’s fifth in five seasons. Saturday’s race is the final one for the Corvette DP with new Prototype regulations coming to the series in 2017.
Christian Fittipaldi was fifth-fastest in Prototype qualifying as Action Express’s two Corvette DPs will line up one behind the other on Saturday’s grid. Fittipaldi, who is second with teammate Joao Barbosa in Driver points, set a lap of 1:14.160 (123.3 mph). They are driving with Felipe Albuquerque.
Ryan Dalziel qualified sixth in Prototype for Visit Florida Racing with a lap of 1:14.276 (123.1 mph) in the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP. Ricky Taylor was ninth in Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP at 1:14.533 (122.6 mph).
The 10-hour Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort from Road Atlanta is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 1 It will air live on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Go and IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio coverage and Chevrolet on-board cameras available on IMSA.com.
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SIRIUS-XM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED SECOND IN GTLM: “It was close to the front, but also very close to being all the way at the back. Basically that is how it is in GTLM. The Corvette behaved how we expected. The track was obviously a lot different that it was this morning (in practice) after several hours between Practice Three and qualifying with all these races in between. I think we did a good job on guessing on what the track would do. The track was definitely slower than this morning but we followed what it would do. I didn't put together a complete lap. I did three almost identical laps; if you take the best part of each lap, I'm sure I could be up front. So it is always good to have the pole position, but we have had a couple this year. We just need to win this one."
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 MOBIL 1/SIRIUS-XM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – QUALIFIED SEVENTH IN GTLM: “It is super close. We have been able to see it all weekend. The lap times were all very close. At first I struggled a bit finding a comfort level in the car; we had it better for this morning. Certainly you can tell that track conditions changed quite a bit because the car this morning was great, but it sounds like for everybody it was a struggle. Good job to all those guys. It certainly wasn't easy out there.
“It’s a little frustrating there to see the timing screen with two fast sectors and a slow one at the end. It wouldn't have been pole but it would have moved us up a little bit. But in any case it is a 10-hour race.
“It’s funny how things ended up there with our main rival in first and us in seventh place. That could be a good thing; it could be bad thing. Who knows? I would be happy with things a way they are right now. I’m happy with how the car felt. So I have a lot of confidence going in to tomorrow’s race.”
CORVETTE DAYTONA PROTOTYPE QUOTES
DANE CAMERON, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 31 WHELEN ENGINEERING/TEAM FOX CORVETTE DP – QUALIFIED THIRD IN PROTOTYPE: "We can be reasonably satisfied today with third. We knew we weren't going to have anything for the outright pace of the LMP2 cars. We weren't to worried about that. We are happy to be the quickest of the Corvette DPs. I think we are quite happy with our car for the race, and what it does in the cool conditions into the night. We know what our strengths are as a team: working traffic and sharing space in pit lane. But I think everything is teed up for tomorrow. I’m looking for a big day for the Whelen Engineering Corvette DP.”
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP – QUALIFIED FIFTH IN PROTOTYPE: "It's okay. Obviously we were aiming to start on the second row as we knew it was impossible to start on the front row, especially with the difference of cars. But all-in-all we are okay. I never got a perfect lap together. When I had a good lap going, I overshot Turn Six. I braked a little bit too deep and went wide on the grass. That cost me a lot of time. Then the laps after that, the tires were shot. All the good on the tires was gone. To be honest with you, I was surprised that I could improve on the last lap. We are confident for tomorrow. That is what really counts. I would be worried if we were starting P5 on a street course where the race is very short and it is almost impossible to pass. We have a long way ahead of us and we have to do our very best tomorrow."