Perhaps the only downside to Corvette Racing’s first win with the new C7.R at Long Beach was that it came in a bit of a rout in the GT Le Mans class, as the car won in its third TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race.
Once Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R got ahead of Ed Brown’s No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b on the opening lap, he was able to set sail by more than 10 seconds while the prototype held up GT traffic.
A repeat of the performance is not expected to be as easy this weekend in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix, where Garcia and Jan Magnussen seek not only their second straight win this season, but their second straight win at this track. Teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner won in 2012, so Corvette has a shot a three-peat this weekend.
“You couldn’t count on traffic either way,” Garcia told Sportscar365. “My whole drive there – 45-50 minutes or so – the rest of the field didn’t get to catch me. It’s not going to be that way this weekend.”
Despite 11th and fifth place finishes to start the season, Garcia and Magnussen are only eight points out of the championship lead.
They, along with Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan, praised the C7.R’s improvements over the retired C6.R through the first three races this season.
“It’s an improvement in all areas,” Magnussen said. “But we don’t know where we are yet on top speed until we get to Le Mans. We won’t know there until test day.”
Added Fehan, “We have a synergistic relationship (between the production and race teams). Despite the results thus far, we’re ahead of where we thought we’d be. This car came out so good out of the box. We’re so much better from Lap 1, during all our race performance.”
The Long Beach winners rank sixth in the GTLM standings entering the weekend. Gavin and Milner are tied for fourth on 84 points with the Dirk Mueller/John Edwards BMW Team RLL pair; the sister BMW Team RLL duo of Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx lead the championship with 90 points.
After Monterey this weekend, the GTLM class is off until Watkins Glen June 29.
Corvette, ironically, is left as the sole GTLM class team racing at Le Mans following SRT Motorsports’ withdrawal.
The GTLM class does not race at Detroit May 31 (a race in front of GM headquarters), and the team will have already shipped its two cars over to Le Mans for the June 1 test day.