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MAGNUSSEN: Road Atlanta Debrief

Jan Magnussen files his latest Sportscar365 column…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Looking back at the 2014 season as a whole, it was certainly a bit of a roller coaster ride with highs and lows. We’re pleased with the four race wins but it also could have been a whole lot more.

It was an exciting season starting out with the new C7.R and developing the car. Obviously Daytona and Sebring were disappointing because we were not reliable, but at least the car showed that it had potential and the team really turned that around and it showed with the four wins in a row.

On top of that, we had a really strong showing at Le Mans where, if it wasn’t for an air jack failure in the pits, we could’ve been fighting for the win there instead of second. But overall, I think it was a good first year for the C7.R. It’s definitely a car that everybody can be proud of, plus it’s fast and we have more to come!

We were in contention this whole year and we even led the Championship for a good part of it but the second half of the season was tough for the whole team. For myself personally, missing out on VIR and taking myself out of any contention for the Championship was a tough one.

The second half was really hard. Because of the adjustment of performance (AoP), we were out of it and we never really had a chance. Ending with Petit Le Mans, we showed what we had. We had a fast car, we made improvements and we were closer than we had been in the previous races so that was a positive and hopefully we can build on that going into next year.

Unfortunately at Petit Le Mans we had an incident in the pits that cost us. It was very unlucky but it’s one of those things that can happen.

With the way we do pit stops now, where we can do fuel, change tires and drivers all at the same time, it makes it very tight on time. It doesn’t leave a lot of room to get everything right. You get in, you buckle yourself in as good as you can and then you have to go. And I think that’s what happened with the Porsche, I think he was still checking himself when he left the pits and he didn’t see the car that was stopped. Those things happen so fast.

My situation was a little bit the same leaving my pit box. I was told that there was a red light so I was prepared to stop but you don’t just stop right in the middle because people will pass you, so I had to follow the Porsche until he stopped but he ran into the back of the Ferrari and I had nowhere to go, and I hit him. It was just bad luck.

We were on cold tires so trying to brake hard was almost impossible. It was way too late and it immediately locked up and didn’t slow down at all and I just drove into the back of him. He kind of bounced off to the side. I think if he had stopped and not bounced I would have probably cleared him, but he bounced a little bit to the right and I hit him right in the rear corner.

I know there are discussions to improve this particular type of situation where they need to close the pits. It’s not usual that they have the pit exit closed so it must be the way that we’re doing the sequence of pit stops with the prototype and the GT cars but at Petit it happened quite a few times and also at the previous races so it must be something with the sequence.

If this is something that will keep happening, they need to do more visible lights. Right now, it’s really only the first guy in line that is able to see, everybody else coming behind him can’t see the red light, they’ll just see a car stopped and until you’re close you don’t know if it’s stopped because of a failure or because of the red light.

However, I think the way we’re doing it, it’s probably the most fair way where the pit closes and everybody bunches up and they sort out the wave-bys and all that then we start pitting. I think that that’s probably the best way, since we have long races, to make sure that nobody gets a huge advantage and gets everybody by a lap.

That said, there are definitely improvements to be made and hopefully they’ll look at it. Nobody wants to see crashes in pit lane like that. It’ll happen a lot more if everybody has to stop at the end of the pit lane.

It’s just one thing that the series has to look into. Another is the AoP. If there’s one thing that stands out for me after this first year of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship it’s that I think there were some mistakes made on the AoP side.

Other than that I think everything ran pretty well. I’m not involved with the actual business side of it, I just arrive and drive. However, I think in ‘year one’ they probably did as well as they could.

It’s just a huge shame that the season was barely over that the Viper team announced it wasn’t returning. I really feel sorry for all the drivers and for the team that they don’t get to come back and defend their championship. They did a fantastic job all year long and it’s a real shame that they won’t come back.

On the bright side, with the season now over, I’ll have more time to watch Kevin. I watched the Russian race last weekend. It was a good one for Kevin; obviously there were a lot of small issues that tried to ruin it for him all the way through but he still made the most of it. I think had he started closer towards the front like he should have without the gearbox penalty he might have given Bottas a really hard time for the final spot on the podium – I think it could have been close.

Jan Magnussen (@janmagnussen) is a four-time class winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two-time ALMS champion, driving for Corvette Racing in the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship.

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