By IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Corvette Racing is good at Sebring International Raceway.
Like really good.
In 19 starts at Sebring, Corvette Racing has annually demonstrated the speed and reliability it takes to win the demanding Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts with 11 class wins – tied for the most at any venue in team history (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) – and three consecutive wins dating back to 2015.
With that kind of success, it’s no wonder Sebring has become a favorite among Corvette Racing drivers.
“The physicality of the track, speed of the circuit and how the race unfolds is a big challenge,” said Oliver Gavin, who was most recently part of the 2016 race-winning lineup in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R. “It’s the night, the lights, the bumps into Turn 17 and Turn 1, braking for Turn 3, seeing where the sand comes on the track at Turns 5 and 7… Turn 17 is one of the craziest and hardest corners on any track in the U.S. It’s a wild ride and that really sums up the Sebring circuit. You feel like you are on a bucking bronco the whole time and are trying at times to hang on a bit.”
“It’s such a cool event,” added Jan Magnussen, who joined co-drivers Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller in the GTLM class victory last season in the No. 3 Corvette. “The track is very challenging, but there is a great party going on all around. The first thing that comes to my mind is the atmosphere of Sebring. It’s a cool place – from Wednesday when campers start coming in until the end of the race.”
While Corvette Racing may head to Sebring as the favorites based of the team’s recent success, it will certainly have no shortage of competition in this Saturday’s 66th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Live FOX Sports coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. ET on FS1, with complete live streaming available in the U.S. on the FOX Sports Go app with FS1 authentication. IMSA Radio coverage airs on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and on SiriusXM Radio.
Perhaps the spoiler this weekend will come from the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing camp that finished 1-2 in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona with the No. 67 Ford GT and drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon picking up the win.
One year ago, the team’s No. 66 Ford GT fell just short – 4.453 seconds to be exact – of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring win and returns the same lineup of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais this season.
“We really just put everything on the table,” said Hand. “If you finish second, the one thing you want to make sure of is that you did everything you could to win the race. We’ve tested at Sebring a few times since then and added to the data we have from that track. We’re confident we can give it another shot this year.”
The competition doesn’t end there, however, with BMW, Ferrari and Porsche all looking to knock Corvette Racing from the top step of the Sebring podium.
In fact, the only two GT manufacturers to do just that in the last six Sebring races are Porsche (2014) and BMW (2012). When you factor in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE team that set the fastest race lap in the Rolex 24 and finished on the podium at Sebring last season, the entire GTLM field has a shot to come out of the weekend a Sebring winner.
“It’s a fantastic feeling when you get it right,” said Magnussen. “That’s what you aim for.”