Corvette Beats Ford, Ferrari in Virginia GT3 Race

AutoInformed.com on IMSA GT racing

Chevrolet now all but assured of Drivers’ Championship?

The No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, races to victory Sunday, August 27, 2017, winning Sunday’s IMSA Weathertech Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia. Magnussen and Garcia thereby extend their lead in the GTLM Driver’s Championship.

Magnussen and Garcia scored a precarious win in this race – their third win of the season – and expanded their lead in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) point standings from eight points over No. 66 Ford GT teammates Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand and to 16 points over No. 25 BMW co-drivers Alexander Sims and Bill Auberlen. The runner-up result for Briscoe and Westbrook moved them into a tie for third in the GTLM standings with their Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, Hand and Mueller, and just one point behind second-place Sims and Auberlen.

Two races totaling 12 hours and 40 minutes remain in the season, but some argue this is the turning point for the Corvette.  Tactics, driving skills and luck – in arguable amounts – were involved. Magnussen started the race from sixth, but moved into the top five on the opening lap of the race and got to third before pitting 49 minutes into the two-hour, 40-minute race to turn the car over to Garcia.

Garcia said after the race that the team focused on conserving fuel for much of his closing double stint. At the same time, however, he also faced rigorous challenges from Giancarlo Fisichella in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE and Mueller in the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry.

“I think the key was stopping one or two laps later than the Ferrari and the Ford, because I had really clear laps from those two stops. That made me so close to the Ferrari and especially to be ahead of the Ford coming out of the pits. Ninety percent of the race was that pit stop and being able to get in front of them,” said Garcia.

That was a battle for second, though, as Sims was way ahead in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL machine after combining with Auberlen to dominate most of the race. Garcia and the Corvette team’s fuel conservation gamble paid off because Sims was forced to pit from the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining, perhaps the art of German engineering turned to scribbles in the Virginia countryside.

Briscoe and Westbrook, who qualified seventh, finished second in the all-GT class after hovering around fifth place for much of the race. A late collision between their team car, the No. 66 Ford GT – it appeared to be deliberate and reckless – with the targeted No. 4 Corvette took those cars off the track and out of contention, lifting the No. 67 up the finishing order.

It was the first win for Magnussen and Garcia since May’s Sportscar Showdown at Circuit of The Americas. They also won in March at the Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida.

Complete race results are available at Results.IMSA.com.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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