Jan Magnussen skal hjælpe dansk GT-hold til Le Mans

En invitation til 24-timers Le Mans i 2015 er belønningen for at vinde mesterskabet i European Le Mans Series på den tidligere Formel 1-bane Estoril denne weekend. Tre teams har mulighed for at tage sejren i GTC-klassen — et af disse er det danske Ferrari-hold fra Formula Racing

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Circuito do Estoril, Lissabon, 16. oktober 2014 — Hvis farten og heldet er med Mikkel Mac og Johnny Laursen i femte og sidste afdeling af European Le Mans Series denne weekend, kan vi vente et nyt dansk hold til 2015-udgaven af 24-timers Le Mans. Jan Magnussen skal igen hjælpe Formula Racing-kørerne med at tage sejren.

— 24-timers Le Mans er drømmen for rigtig mange racerkørere, og alene at få chancen for at vinde billetten er stort, lyder det fra Mikkel Mac.

Den 21-årige Formula Racing-kører vandt sidste år to VM-titler i mærkeserien Maserati Trofeo og har efter yderligere en sæson i European Le Mans Series fået udforsket mange af de store europæiske racerbaner i GT-racerbiler.

Sammen med Johnny Laursen førte Mikkel Mac og Jan Magnussen tidligere på sæsonen det benhårde GTC-mesterskab i European Le Mans Series, men uheldigheder som et defekt baghjulsleje på østrigske Red Bull Ring i juli har kostet dyrebare point, og derfor kommer Ferrari-trioen til Portugal på en andenplads i klassen.

— Det bliver en kæmpe udfordring at hente mesterskabssejren. Vi skal først og fremmest vinde løbet, og samtidig skal det gå dårligt for vores konkurrenter, forklarer Mikkel Mac.

— Men vi er optimistiske, ikke mindst efter vores to-dages test på banen for to uger siden, hvor både jeg og Johnny fik fuldstændig styr på banen i både sol og regn.

Formula Racing er med 60,5 point præcis 18,5 point efter GTC-klassens førende Ferrari #73 fra det russiske SMP-team.

For at vinde mesterskabet skal danskernes Ferrari 458 GT3 således slutte løbet på en førsteplads samtidig med, at rivalerne skal ende på en syvende- eller ottendeplads, alt efter om de også sikrer sig den pointgivende pole position i kvalifikationen.

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For Jan Magnussen bliver det et gensyn med den portugisiske tidligere Formel 1-bane, som han senest gæstede i forbindelse med en Formel 1-test for Stewart Ford-teamet i begyndelsen af 1997.

— Det er en meget varieret bane med temmelig mange sving og markante højdeforskelle. Jeg husker især banens 2. sving, som vi tog med fuld gas i sjette gear. Under testen knækkede baghjulsophænget på min racerbil i netop dét sving, og jeg røg i muren med fuld hammer, lyder det fra Jan Magnussen.

— Så uheldige er vi forhåbentlig ikke i weekenden. Med én sejr, to podieplaceringer og to pole positions har vi bevist, at vi er hurtige. Men i weekenden skal vi både være de hurtigste samtidig med, at vores konkurrenter skal løbe ind i problemer undervejs.

— Ingen tvivl om, at det bliver en kæmpe udfordring, da SMP-teamet har været både hurtige og stabile i alle afdelinger. Når det er sagt, ville det være helt fantastisk at hjælpe drengene med at komme til Le Mans.

Le Mans det ultimative mål

European Le Mans Series er en feeder til 24-timersløbet på Le Mans forstået på den måde, at klassevinderne automatisk er sikret en invitation til den prestigefulde franske klassiker.

Le Mans er netop det ultimative mål for det danske team, som i givet fald skal finde en erstatning for Jan Magnussen, der også i 2015 har en aftale med Corvette Racing om at køre 24-timersløbet.

— At en Le Mans-invitation betyder, at vi skal på jagt efter en ny kører, ser jeg ikke umiddelbart som et kæmpe problem, lyder det fra teamchef Allan Jørgensen.

— Vi går naturligvis efter den helt store pokal, man alene at vi er ét ud af tre teams, som ved sæsonafslutningen har mulighed for at vinde mesterskabet i European Le Mans Series, kan vi være stolte af.

— Det synes jeg er en flot debut i en så hård og højt profileret GT-serie.

Petit Le Mans Sportscar365.com column

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Looking back at the 2014 season as a whole, it was certainly a bit of a roller coaster ride with highs and lows. We’re pleased with the four race wins but it also could have been a whole lot more.

It was an exciting season starting out with the new C7.R and developing the car. Obviously Daytona and Sebring were disappointing because we were not reliable, but at least the car showed that it had potential and the team really turned that around and it showed with the four wins in a row.

petit_Sportscar365On top of that, we had a really strong showing at Le Mans where, if it wasn’t for an air jack failure in the pits, we could’ve been fighting for the win there instead of second. But overall, I think it was a good first year for the C7.R. It’s definitely a car that everybody can be proud of, plus it’s fast and we have more to come!

We were in contention this whole year and we even led the Championship for a good part of it but the second half of the season was tough for the whole team. For myself personally, missing out on VIR and taking myself out of any contention for the Championship was a tough one.

The second half was really hard. Because of the adjustment of performance (AoP), we were out of it and we never really had a chance. Ending with Petit Le Mans, we showed what we had. We had a fast car, we made improvements and we were closer than we had been in the previous races so that was a positive and hopefully we can build on that going into next year.

Unfortunately at Petit Le Mans we had an incident in the pits that cost us. It was very unlucky but it’s one of those things that can happen.

Click here to read the full column on Sportscar365.com…..

Ingen Petit Le Mans-sejr til Magnussen

Et banalt sammenstød ødelagde Jan Magnussens chancer for at vinde det 10 timer lange Petit Le Mans, som blev afviklet på Road Atlanta lørdag aften dansk tid

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Road Atlanta, Georgia, 5. oktober 2014 — Håbet om sejr blev bogstaveligt talt kvast, da Jan Magnussen kolliderede med en konkurrent i pitlane og ødelagde sin Corvette under TUDOR-mesterskabets finaleløb på Road Atlanta lørdag aften dansk tid. Danskeren returnerede til løbet flere omgange bagud og endte sammen med Antonio Garcia og Ryan Briscoe på en skuffende ottendeplads.

— Det er så uheldigt og banalt, som det kan være, lød det fra en træls Jan Magnussen efter afslutningen på det 10 timer lange løb.

Uheldet skete få sekunder efter at Corvette-teamet havde sendt Jan Magnussen ud på sit første stint. En konkurrerende Porsche overså en Ferrari, som holdt stille for rødt ved udgangen af pitlane, og sammenstødet gik også ud over også Magnussen.

— Da jeg bliver sendt af sted, får jeg at vide på radioen, at pitlane er lukket, så jeg lader blot bilen rulle ned i fart sammen med den forankørende Porsche, forklarede Jan Magnussen.

— Desværre har føreren af Porschen overhovedet ikke set den Ferrari, som holder stille ved det røde lys, og da de rammer hinanden, kastes Porschen ud til siden, så jeg ikke har mulighed for at undvige den.

Ved sammenstødet fik Jan Magnussens Corvette skader på fronten, venstre forskærm samt motorhjelmen, og han må ligesom den kvæstede Porsche køre en hel omgang på banen, før han kan vende tilbage til pitten og de ventende mekanikere.

— Det var bare så ærgerligt. Da jeg overtog bilen, havde Antonio Garcia kørt os fra en sjetteplads og helt frem til en suveræn føring, og for første gang i lang tid havde vi en bil, som bestemt var hurtig nok til at kæmpe med helt fremme, lød det fra Jan Magnussen.

Udover at vinde det prestigefulde løb, kæmpede Corvette-trioen også om kørernes mesterskab i TUDOR-seriens GTLM-klasse. Jan Magnussens chancer var på forhånd tabte, da danskeren måtte udeblive fra et løb tidligere på sæsonen, men for Antonio Garcia var mesterskabet stadig på spil forud for Petit Le Mans.

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Under udbedringen af skaderne blev Corvette #3 imidlertid sat flere omgange bagud, og selvom både Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia og Ryan Briscoe i de efterfølgende timer kørte hurtige og stabile stints, forblev afstanden til de førende håbløs lang.

— Vi havde naturligvis håbet på at slutte sæsonen af med det bedste resultat, ikke mindst for teamets skyld, lød det fra Jan Magnussen.

— Alle har kæmpet hårdt gennem hele sæsonen, særligt ovenpå de berygtede Balance of Performance-justeringer, der som bekendt har gjort det svært for Corvette Racing at kæmpe med om sejrene i anden halvdel af sæsonen.

Balance of Performance-programmet er TUDOR-seriens måde at udligne styrkeforholdet mellem teams i de forskellige klasser, ganske enkelt ved at pålægge de hurtigste biler ekstra vægt og mindre restriktorer i motoren.

— Det er en smule grotesk, at vi kunne vinde fire sejre i starten af året og slutte af som nogle af de bageste i feltet fordi vi ganske enkelt ikke kunne følge med.

Jan Magnussen ser dog frem til en ny sæson, hvor han kan gentage succesen fra 2013, da han sammen med Antonio Garcia vandt mesterskabet i American Le Mans Series. De første testkørsler finder sted i næste måned, og den 9.-10. januar afvikles 2015-sæsonens første event, nemlig præ-testen til 24 Hours of Daytona i Florida.

— På den positive side har vi bevist, at vi med al vores erfaring og knowhow har skabt en superstærk racerbil, som har kunnet vinde løb fra første færd, lyder det fra Jan Magnussen.

Magnussen ready for the final 2014 showdown at Petit Le Mans

_RD45121BRASELTON, GA, August 23, 2014: Corvette Racing showed a return to form at Road Atlanta yesterday with Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe showing strong pace in preparation for Petit Le Mans.

petit_thurs_gal1_ 6The No.3 Corvette was third fastest in the two daytime practice sessions and led much of the evening session before finishing second fastest

Magnussen is out to help his teammate Garcia challenge for the driver’s championship this weekend at the final round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

While the crash at VIR and subsequent concussion put the Dane out the title race, the driver’s title will now come down to a three-way battle between Garica and Dodge Viper drivers Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito.

Wittmer and Bomarito have been teammates in the same car all season but their team has split the pairing for the final race of the year to maximise their championship chances.

If Garcia, Magnussen and Briscoe can win on Saturday, both the Dodge Viper drivers will have to finish fourth or lower for Garcia to take the championship.

Magnussen and Garcia took four consecutive wins earlier this season before IMSA AOP (adjustment of performance) changes hindered their progress. However, the win tally will be important for Garcia in the event of a points tie at the end of Saturday’s 10 hour race.

The Danish/Spanish duo are also just point point adrift in the Patrón Endurance Cup Driver’s Championship – trailing teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in a tightly packed race. The team is also chasing the season-long Manufacturer’s and Team’s championships for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing.

While in the past, Petit Le Mans has been 10 hours or 1000 miles – whichever came first – this year the race has been changed to 10 hours. The race goes green at 11:15am on Saturday.

Petit Le Mans (all times ET)
TUDOR Championship Practice 4: 10:10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 3
TUDOR Championship GTLM Qualifying: 4:40 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3
TUDOR Championship Prototype Qualifying: 5:25 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3
TUDOR Championship Warmup: 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 4
Petit Le Mans: 11:15 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 4

Petit Le Mans – Watch It (all times ET)
Qualifying: 5:30 p.m. (IMSA.com), Friday, Sept. 19
Race: 11 a.m. (IMSA.com), Saturday, Oct. 4; 3 p.m. (FOX Sports 2), Saturday, Oct. 4

JAN MAGNUSSEN Q&A

petit_thurs_gal1_ 4Q: Looking back at COTA, how frustrating a day was that?

A: “That was a tough day because we didn’t really have any major issues in the race. We had a little bit of a braking problem where the brakes were fading, getting too hot, but other than that we ran a decent race, decent strategy and had decent pit stops. Everything was pretty OK and we were second last and third last. It was tough. We were way off.”

Q: Is the car a lot better around Road Atlanta?

A: “Well, it’s early. Nobody really knows what everybody is doing. It feels pretty decent, I have to say we don’t quite have the overall grip that we would hope for but that just might be the track that’s not in perfect condition. Compared to last year, I think we’re ahead on lap times already so we’ll see. This will be an interesting weekend just because today is kind of hot and humid and tomorrow is supposed to be stormy and wet and Saturday cold. It could be a tricky weekend in that respect.”
petit_thurs_gal1_ 5Q: If the track gets a proper ‘bath’ on Friday night and washes all the rubber away is it a totally different ballgame on Saturday?

A: “Yes, it’ll change a little bit. This race isn’t quite the same as it used to be. We use to test on the weekend prior and we’d be running Monday, Tuesday, get Wednesday off and then we started with race week so it’s not the same amount of rubber that we’re used to having. So if it clears it up now, it’ll change some but not a huge amount. Sometimes for us in GT, it’s not horrible when they get to wash the Continental rubber off, it seems like it’s not always a help to us.”

Q: Did the championship battle for Antonio Garcia just got a little tougher with the SRT team splitting up their guys

A: “Yeah, now we have to beat both of them to help Antonio and the team for the Manufacturer’s title but it’s a tough call to make. That couldn’t have been a good meeting because somebody will get the short straw! They just don’t know who yet, but definitely one of them could miss out on the championship and that’s a shame. It just goes to show how much this means to them and how much they are willing to sacrifice to get the win, which is nice. You never know what this does to the mind of those two guys that have now been split but we’ll still have to just do our best, beat both of them if we can and see where we end up.”

Corvette Racing Daytona 2014Q: You have some extra help for this weekend with Ryan Briscoe coming in, how did he go in the first session?

A: “It was a good three sessions today as Ryan got to drive both cars. He was on the pace immediately, just as we had expected.”

Q: How did your races go last weekend in the Danish Thundersport Championship?

A: “That wasn’t good! It was the last race of the championship and I was six points off the lead going into the weekend, we had three races, so I knew I had to get a lot of points. Unfortunately, I got pushed off in the very first corner of the first race and it caused a ton of damage, so I got no points in race one. I then had to start from the back for race two and I got up to second but the guy leading the championship won that race and had enough points that he actually won the championship. I had an absolutely fantastic race getting through the field but it wasn’t enough for the championship, unfortunately. So it’s back to the shop and we’ll get ready for next year.”

Q: How was Kevin’s race in Singapore having to deal with the heat inside the cockpit of his McLaren?

A: “He was really, really fighting, I’m so proud of what he did. It was easy to see that he was struggling because anytime the camera was on him he was sitting there with his hands out of the cockpit trying to cool himself down, so something obviously was wrong, but that was the first time that he’s been cooked like that. They found what was wrong with the car, it was a seal that had broken so all the hot air got into the car from the radiators. He fought through and showed what he’s made of. He just kept fighting even though it was unbearable.”

Q: How tough would that have been when you’re on a street circuit without any real straights and concrete all around you?

A: “It looked like a place where you are driving all the time, there’s no relaxing. He did a fantastic job again and showed himself as a real racer and he fights with everybody. He’s doing a good job making a name for himself.”

Q: How much do you think he’ll like Suzuka this weekend for the Japanese Grand Prix?

A: “I think the track he’ll like. I don’t know how competitive McLaren is going to be, we won’t know until later tonight after first practice but it’s up there with everybody’s favorite tracks. It’s a fantastic place.

Gallery: Petit Le Mans Thursday Practice