Article: Kevin Sims ~ Photos: Randy Stevens
Daytona International Speedway – January 6, 2019 – The #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R team appeared ready to defend its 2018 IMSA GTLM championship by posting a most impressive GTLM lap time for the 2019 Roar before the 24 testing event. At a super-sonic 1 minute 42.651 seconds at 124.844 MPH, Jan Magnussen laid down a heart pumping and field belittling standard during the class’s pit stall determining qualifying session that the likes of Ford, Porsche, and BMW must contend with to take the 2019 Rolex 24 win.
“We did exactly the same as we did last year where we agreed who was going to tow who. It was me again like in race qualifying last year,” pointed out Jan Magnussen, #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driver. “That gave us a good top-speed advantage in that session. Olly (Gavin) did a fantastic job placing himself at the right distance out of Turn Six so I could take full advantage of the tow down to the Bus Stop and then go by him at start/finish to get the fastest lap. We did the exact same thing at the Roar and the race last year, so I don’t really know why everyone else is doing the exact same thing. But it seems we’re the only one doing it at the moment, and it’s working out really well for us.”
Despite the extreme confidence displayed by the Corvette team, an evaluation of the entire testing data revealed that the likes of Ford, Porsche, and BMW were either not far off the Corvette pace or, in most cases, thoroughly ahead of the 2018 Champions.
During all 7 testing sessions, Ford came out on top with a team pleasing 1 minute 43.083 seconds time that out did the Corvette time by 0.423 seconds. Both of these times were achieved during the 6th testing session and under similar conditions. Porsche, with its 911 RSR and Nick Tandy driving, rocketed a 1 minute 43.402 seconds time that was 0.61 second quicker than the fastest Corvette during the 5th testing session.
“The test was an important preparation – for both the race and the entire season. After the winter break we all had to get back into our normal rhythm,” commented Nick Tandy, pilot of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR. “We not only worked on the setup, but above all we practiced procedures such as pit stops and driver changes. It’s critical to do this during the ‘Roar’ so that you can completely focus on the finer details of the car during the race week.”
As in past Rolex 24 events, the GTLM class is staged for a classic confrontation of cataclysmic proportions. The fastest, most efficient team that stays out of trouble will take the prize. According to this year’s Roar before the 24 test result, this year GTLM race is going to be close one. - AA