Jan Magnussen says he was told that a return to Corvette Racing would be possible at the time he was dropped from the manufacturer’s IMSA program late last year.
The four-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner lost his place in Corvette’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship squad to Jordan Taylor but is returning to the team in this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race at Circuit of The Americas.
Magnussen is sharing the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R with Mike Rockenfeller, who lost his own regular spot in the team’s endurance lineup at the end of last year due to a DTM clash.
Ahead of his first race in the C8.R, Magnussen told Sportscar365 that he never felt as though his departure from the Corvette full-season IMSA lineup was going to mark the total end of his long relationship with the brand.
“I knew that there was a possibility of this happening right from when I was told that I wouldn’t be with the IMSA team for the full season,” he said.
“I had a conversation, which wasn’t a nice conversation when I was told that my contract wouldn’t be renewed. But I was told that this [a return in WEC] might happen.
“In the back of my mind I always thought I could do it and it didn’t feel like a clean break. It didn’t feel like that was it. Obviously, I’m very happy to be back here.
“I knew that something could happen, so I was super happy when the opportunity finally came around. I’ve done quite a bit of testing with the C8.R test car so I’m so happy that I can finally get to race it.”
Rockenfeller explained that he was told around Christmas time that he had a chance to drive the Corvette C8.R at COTA and Sebring, after his initial 2020 deal collapsed.
The Audi DTM driver lost his Corvette role because of a date clash between the Anderstorp DTM round and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was part of his endurance race package.
“Last year I knew that due to the DTM calendar clash with Le Mans, I would be out of the program,” Rockenfeller told Sportscar365.
“I was pretty sad and disappointed. But as soon as this came up, I was really excited, and it didn’t take long to make my decision. I asked Audi and they said it’s no problem at all.
“For Corvette, it was always a risk because they make my deal at the end of the year when there’s still no DTM schedule out yet. It was always a one-year deal because of that.
“[At the end of last year] the deal was over, and we knew the schedule was not good, so they said that with the new car it’s not easy to bring me in as a third driver just for Le Mans, and I understood that. It wasn’t going to work.
“It was a shame not to be involved at all at first but then when this came up, I was so happy to still be a part of the family after running four years in the C7.R.”
Future Race Outings Not Yet Considered
Both Magnussen and Rockenfeller are signed to Corvette on two-race contracts covering them for COTA and Sebring.
However, team manager Ben Johnson explained that nothing has been decided in terms of future race appearances beyond the two American rounds of the WEC.
“For sure right now, we have these two races earmarked for Mike and Jan,” Johnson told Sportscar365.
“Having the experience level and talent they have is really a benefit to us and something you normally wouldn’t be able to do. But there isn’t anything confirmed future-wise for the WEC car or these guys at the moment.”
When asked if the WEC races at COTA and Sebring might determine future appearances in the car, Magnussen said, “It could, but I don’t know.”
“I will try to do the best I can, and we will see what the future brings,” he continued.
“It’s a new car that appeals to a lot of people. It’s probably more of a ‘world’ Corvette than the previous Corvette [C7.R] so maybe they want to do more in the WEC and hopefully I’m the guy they call.
“I will drive this car every day if I can!”
John Dagys contributed to this report