IMSA Spotlight: Antonio Garcia
Driver: No.3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R
You and your co-driver Jan Magnussen are currently the GT Le Mans points leaders. What do you think is behind the strong start to the season that you’ve had in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship?
“I think it’s a team effort. We can’t say this year that we’ve had the strongest car out there, although I think Long Beach we were very strong, but we also proved that when we don’t have exactly the best car out there we still are performing.
“At the end, that’s what brings victories even if you don’t have the fastest pace. We consider it a very, very strong first part of the season from Corvette Racing. We won three out of four races as a team, so that’s perfect.”
It’s been a lengthy layoff since the last GTLM race at Circuit of The Americas. What have you and the team been up to in the meantime?
“We have many things to go through with engineers, so ever since we stopped racing at COTA, that following week we went straight to Road America to test for [Le Mans]. It was a very intense two-day test with a lot of preparation behind the scenes prior to that test in order to have a good plan and run through a lot of new ideas coming from [Le Mans] last year.
“The good thing was the weather was nice so we could run through everything, and obviously the car improved. Everybody seemed to be very happy. Another three or four weeks after that test, all the engineers kept working on the data collected from that test, and we had a really good test here at Le Mans where it didn’t rain for once!
“We could run the whole test, many laps, and collect a lot of data. So far it’s been really good on that point so we don’t need to guess so much, but I think hte main thing will be once the first practice or qualifying comes we just need to be prepared for any problem we may have and go around all of those problems to get the car ready for Saturday.”
How helpful is a test at Road America to prepare for Le Mans?
“You just need to get it as it is. The good thing about Le Mans is that nobody can actually test here, so at the end of the day every single team finds their own place to test, and then they have the tools to translate the data from a completely different race track towards this one at Le Mans.
“It’s not that you fine tune the car to go fast at Road America. You go through a lot of different changes with Le Mans setup, even if it’s not the correct setup for the race track where you’re testing. You just need to forget about that and just focus on what you test, the differences, and carry on working on that.”
How difficult is it to retrain yourself for WEC regulations after spending most of the year in IMSA?
“It’s something that you have to get prepared for. There’s not many differences before the race. For sure there are some pit lane rules and driver changes and pit stops are a bit different, but that’s something that the crew has been working a lot on since the beginning. They train with both strategies, both ways of doing it, so they’re really prepared for it.
“At the end, race time is completely different. In America, we’re used to racing, and racing hard, but we also have a lot of cautions everything sort of resets usually like once an hour, if not more. That’s the thing you need to be thinking about. Every second you lose here, nobody will give it back to you. That’s something you need to be prepared for. Every single out lap or in lap, every second counts.
“You need to be focussed on that because in America, basically you need to stay up front, on the lead lap, and when it’s five, six, seven hours to go is when you start to move up to put yourself in position. Here, from lap one, every second counts.”
How confident are you in your Corvette package relative to the rest of the GTE-Pro field?
“We just need to focus on what we have. That’s the big thing. I think, like always, every year we improve not only the car but we improve how we perform the race as a team. I think all we can do is just be at our highest level and let the race come.
“If it’s like last year when we didn’t have the ultimate pace to race for the win, we just need to perform at our 100 percent because maybe pace is not the main thing here. If we do that and still don’t win the race, we just need to be proud of ourselves.
“That’s the focus, mainly. Putting the pace aside, we just need to do our best possible race. If we have the pace or are close to the pace, I think we have a very good shot to win this race.”