Jan Magnussen may have taken the championship lead for the No. 3 Corvette C7.R with teammate Antonio Garcia after their last outing at VIR, but the team are still on the hunt for a victory in their 2018 campaign as the series heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Northern California.
The two-hour, 40-minute race on the historic permanent road course serves as the duo’s penultimate chance to score victory for Corvette Racing in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The pair are on a hot streak at the moment, scoring six consecutive podium finishes. Magnussen and Garcia are also proven winners at the facility, scoring consecutive wins together in 2013 and 2014.
In addition, Magnussen has claimed pole position and fastest lap of the race a further three times for Corvette, from 2007-2009 and has two additional wins here under his belt before joining the Corvette Racing team.
For the No. 3 crew, Laguna Seca presents a great opportunity to climb the top step of the IMSA GTLM podium in 2018 and extend their championship lead, before heading into Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans, the final race of the 2018 season.
Cars hit the track on Friday for the first practice session at 10:55 am Pacific time. Qualifying is scheduled for 1:10 pm on Saturday with the two-hour, 40-minute race set for 2:05 pm on Sunday.
JAN MAGNUSSEN Q&A
Q: Howgood does it feel to have the championship lead at this point in the season?
A: “It feels fantastic. We knew we had the pace and the team behind us to be championship contenders, but to be in this position with just two races to go makes the dream of defending our 2017 title seem even more possible. It won’t be easy, the IMSA GTLM class is incredibly tight and everyone can win on a given race day, but we’re in a really good place and hopefully, we’ll still be out front when the checkered flag falls at Petit.”
Q: What has put you in this position with two races to go?
A: “First and foremost is the No. 3 Corvette Racing team. We always say they’re the best in the business, and we mean that. They always deliver with the car, with the pit stops, with the strategy. Even the weekends where we aren’t the fastest, we’re right there at the end thanks to this team.
“Secondly, I would say our consistency has been important. From a results perspective, we haven’t had an up-and-down season by any means. Six consecutive podium finishes coming into this weekend, Sebring has been our only finish outside of the top four this year, that kind of consistency is how you build championship charges.”
Q: How much are you pushing to get the win this weekend?
A: “We’re always pushing to get the win. This team deserves to be on the top step of the podium and have their hard work rewarded with that winner’s trophy.
“However, first and foremost we have to think about the championship and be smart about it. For us, as badly as we want to win for Chevy and for this team, and for ourselves, it’s way more important to bring those guys a championship at the end of the year than to win a single race.
“If we’re in a position to fight for it, you can bet we’ll fight. But if it means sacrificing our position in the standings, then we’ll protect that. In a perfect world, we’ll win both here and at Petit and take home the title as well.”
Q: How do you like Laguna Seca as a track?
A: “It is a great old school track where there are penalties if you get it wrong. There isn’t a lot of runoff and if you do run wide you are in the dirt and there is no traction out there.
“Everyone talks about the corkscrew but it is a relatively simple corner where there isn’t a lot of time to be gained – but a heap of time to be lost if you get it wrong.
“The key to a lap here is the flow. From the Andretti hairpin through to the Corkscrew is where you really want the car working well.
“Keeping the car flowing well through those medium speed corners is critical to your pace around here.”
Q: With F1 finishing its European swing, is Kevin happy with his progress going into the last third of the season?
A: “I think he has to be happy with his progress so far! Monza was frustrating, and it’s always hard to go into a longer break between races with a less-than-ideal result. But that kind of result will only make him more motivated come Singapore.
“He’s scored points in more than half of the races this year, and a majority of the points for Haas, so all-in-all it’s been a good year for him.
“If he continues at this pace, he could score more points than the 55 he did his rookie year. He’s on 49 now, so I think it’s more than possible. He’s also just three points out of seventh place in the standings, so he has room to make the year even better than it already has been.”