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MAGNUSSEN: Rolex 24 Debrief

Jan Magnussen files his first Sportscar365 column of the year…

Photo: Darren Pierson

Photo: Darren Pierson

I was very pleased with the performance of our Corvette C7.R from the Rolex 24. The car handled really well and did everything right. We’re still down on top speed compared to our competition but I believe we can fix that as we get a little further along with the car.

We did have some issues during the week but it’s all stuff I think we can get a good handle on before Sebring. So I was very encouraged with how everything worked and how the team dealt with the problems we had.

Of course we couldn’t finish the race but these things happen, especially with a new car. We already have a great car, we just have to figure out the little things.

It was a cooling issue that ultimately stopped us. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the water in the car. That put an end to our efforts. But I think it’s something they’ll get a handle on quite quickly. It’s a problem we didn’t have before Daytona but I’m sure we’ll be able to fix it.

My first stint was pretty fun coming from the back of the pack. I really enjoyed myself. The car was good and I was coming through traffic pretty well. I thought that soon as I cleared all of the GTD cars, I would need a yellow to bunch us all back up. But at that point, I was already all caught up with the GTLMs.

From there, the race was on and we picked our way through. It’s always hugely satisfying coming from the back like that and lead the race. It gives you a boost of confidence.

The race was not a total loss for us, as unlike last year, we still ended up with some points. Tenth place points is not a lot but we’ll take it. I’m sure it’s going to count towards the end of the year.

The Porsches were super strong and they will be really challenging at every race we go to. I don’t think that car has any weak points, so we’re going to have to really focus 100 percent on the car and the performance. Hopefully we can take the fight to them.

However, on a track with long straights like Daytona, we were still able to do competitive times, which was pretty encouraging. I think we can give them a run for their money as soon as we get the little things sorted out.

I think it’s great that we get to race against the best of the best but it does seem a little odd to race against Michael Christensen who is one of my son Kevin’s good buddys from Denmark. This new championship does have a lot of top drivers and Michael is certainly an up and coming star. I have a lot of respect for him. I’ve watched him throughout his career and it should be some fantastic racing this year.

My overall impressions of the new TUDOR Championship was quite good. Daytona is a long track, so the traffic there wasn’t as bad as I thought and the driving standards were higher than I had feared.

Looking ahead to Sebring, we’re quite happy. We had one test there and it went quite well. Sebring is a place that’s super bumpy. One of the benefits of the stiffer chassis is that it handles the bumps better than the old car.

We’ll see. It’s another tough race, 12 hours. That’s a long time around Sebring with the bumps, which makes it rough on the car. But I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always a fantastic event. There will be lots of cars and lots of traffic to deal with. Hopefully we can gain some points back that we lost.

During Sebring I will be concentrating on what I am doing, but keeping one eye on the opening around of the F1 championship in Australia.

My son Kevin keeps continuing to impress the hell out of me, and I’m sure everyone else. He was the quickest in Thursday’s F1 pre-season testing in Jerez. To go out, with only half a day in the car and lead, is pretty impressive. It’s early days but he already certainly left a mark.

I think what’s most important is the number of laps he’s able to do and the data they can gather. The Renault teams seem to have a big problem and they’re not getting much out of the test. Being fastest is well and good but it doesn’t really count for anything at this stage. It just gives Kevin and the team a big boost of confidence.

Unfortunately, I’m going to miss his first race in Australia as I’ll be at Sebring with Corvette. If I could clone myself and be in two places at once I would but that’ll be a little tough.

I’m certainly going to be in Malaysia and I’ll be trying to make as many races as I can in-person this year. It’s going to be a busy year for the family!

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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