Jan Magnussen and Corvette Racing have had the perfect start to 2015 and this weekend the Danish ace goes from the two longest races of the year to the shortest on the streets of Long Beach.
Magnussen joined with regular teammate Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe on the top step of the podium at both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. After dominating the opening 36 hours of the championship, Magnussen and Garica are now set for a 100 minute street fight in Long Beach – the shortest race of the year.
The famous Long Beach streets kicked off the duo’s amazing run of success in 2014 when they won four races in a row.
Magnussen qualified on pole here last year and Garcia pulled off a blinding start to actually pass some prototypes entering turn 1 and open up a huge gap. By the time Magnussen climbed aboard, he was able to “cruise and collect” as he took the No.3 Corvette C7.R to victory lane.
Long Beach has been a happy hunting ground for Magnussen over the years with two poles, two fastest laps and two victories here in California.
Action for this year’s race kicks off on Friday morning with the annual “street sweeping” session at 7:45am followed by an additional practice session and qualifying from 4:45pm. The 100-minute race goes green at 4:05pm on Saturday, April 18.
Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach – GT Le Mans (all times PT)
TUDOR Practice 1: 7:45 a.m., Friday, April 17
TUDOR Practice 2: 4:45 p.m., Friday, April 17
TUDOR GTLM Qualifying: 5:30 p.m., Friday, April 17
Race: 4:05 p.m., Saturday, April 18 (IMSA.com)
TV: 4 p.m., Sunday, April 19 (FOX Sports 1)
JAN MAGNUSSEN Q&A
Q: We go from two of the longest races of the year to the shortest, how does that change the mind set?
JM: “This is more of a sprint race in every sense of the word. It’s one pit stop and the pit stop probably decides who wins. That’s how it usually goes at Long Beach. You need to be in the fight up front for that first pit stop and then you need to nail that pit stop. After that that’s when the real race starts, right after the only pit stop.”
Q: How wide is the pit window, is there much leeway as to staying out or coming in?
JM: “No, usually at a place like Long Beach because of the duration of the race you probably need to stop as soon as you can, just so that you don’t get caught out with a safety car or something. If you try to run a little bit long and everybody pits and you don’t and there’s a safety car, then maybe you’re in trouble.”
Q: Long Beach was the start of a great run in 2014. Talk about last year’s race, starting with qualifying.
JM: “Last year we had a really good qualifying and stuck it on pole. Hopefully we can copy that this year but it will be tight. As we’ve seen in the first two races, the competition in the GTLM class is so close. We’ll do our best and see how close to the front we can get and then take it from there.
The track is spectacular. I love racing at Long Beach. Even though it’s a street circuit there are a few passing opportunities and there’s just such a great atmosphere about this place. I’m look forward to getting going. We don’t have a lot of track time here, so if the car is good off the truck then we’re in good shape. If it’s not then it’ll be a little bit of a fight.”
Q: How important was Antonio’s race start last year?
JM: “He made a nice start even if it was a little bit of a gamble into the first corner but it paid off and it was probably the key to the win last year. I think we would have held everybody off without that but it gave us a lot of breathing room because he could pull away from the field a little bit and they were struggling to get by the P2 car. For the pit stop we could get all of our stuff done properly without pressure and get out ahead of everybody and drive across the line for the win.”
Q: What’s the trickiest part to getting the set up nailed at Long Beach?
JM: “Obviously because it’s a street circuit and it’s only concrete so you are looking to be as comfortable with the set up as possible. If you’re comfortable and confident that you can push the car to the limit without the car doing crazy stuff then that’s probably the perfect scenario. It never really ends up that way. There are always little bits here and there but because of the walls, if you are not confident in the car, you are not going to be pushing it very hard. You have to give yourself a bigger safety margin to be able to correct if something happens. The more confident you are, the more trust you have in the car, the closer to the wall you can go.”
Q: We don’t have all the classes at Long Beach this weekend, does that open things up a little bit?
JM: “Obviously there will be less traffic but it’s the same situation as last year. I think Antonio ran his whole stint without any traffic, I don’t know that the prototypes got around to lap him so I think he had a whole a stint just running there by himself and that’s uncommon for us but it’s a nice change from Sebring and Daytona where you’re always passing or getting passed like 10 times every lap.”
Q: How thrilled are you about the amazing start to the year for the No.3 Corvette team?
JM: “No, this is such a dream start to the Championship. Obviously the Daytona 24 and the 12 Hours of Sebring are the biggest races that we have here in the United States and on its own they’re races that every driver wants to win. And to come away with two wins, I’m able to cross those two off. Already leading the Championship, it’s just a fantastic way to start the year and the Championship. However, it doesn’t give us a lot of cushion just because of the way the points are. It’ll take a long time before we can ease off and think about the Championship. Right now we just have to focus on every race and getting the maximum out of every weekend and then in the last two or three races we can see where we are in the championship.”
Q: Talk about the event you were at last night where there was one of your old cars from Le Mans.
JM: “It was a fantastic event. Bruce Meyer’s car collection by itself was fantastic but also the crowd that was there – Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Don Prudhomme, Peter Brock, Chip Ganassi, Scott Pruett, Tommy Kendell, Dario Franchitti, Lyn St. James.
It was really a whose who of motorsports and it was so cool that everybody came there for the unveiling of the 2009 GT1 Le Mans winner.”