Corvette Racing’s Danish ace Jan Magnussen has plenty of race miles and skymiles looming in his future with five race weekends over the next six weeks.
Magnussen will contest four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, starting this weekend at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International, along with a round of the Danish Thundersports Championship in Rakkestad, Norway.
The Dane returns to the US this week after crossing the line fifth (later elevated to fourth) in the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans with Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller.
The Danish/Spanish duo of Magnussen and Garcia have been strong at Watkins Glen in the past – finishing third last year and taking the victory in 2014.
Not only will Corvette Racing face the fiercely competitive GTLM class competition in New York state this weekend, they will also face testing weather conditions with temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees fahrenheit on Sunday.
The Corvette Racing squad has already endured a race against time to prepare for this weekend with the Corvette C7.Rs arriving back from France. The team had only four days to return them to IMSA-spec and prepare the cars for this weekend’s event.
Practice begins for the Watkins Glen weekend on Friday at 10:25 am local time with qualifying for the six-hour event scheduled for Saturday at 12:00 noon. Sunday’s green flag will be waved at 9:45am.
JAN MAGNUSSEN Q&A
Q: Le Mans is always a huge challenge. What were your key impressions of this year’s race?
A: “We gave Le Mans everything we could but didn’t quite have the overall pace to be a contender. You can’t afford to have any issues and still be in contention, and thankfully we didn’t have any major issues.
“My teammates (Antonio Garcia and Mike Rockenfeller) were brilliant as usual and the Corvette Racing crew were again at their very best.
“There are just so many factors that can have an impact on the final result. Traffic, safety cars, pit stops, punctures, any one of them can send you backwards in a class as tight as GTE Pro.”
Q: Just how tough is the competition in the GTLM/GTE Pro class?
A: “The competition in GTE Pro at Le Mans is so tough that Le Mans is not a 24 hour endurance race, it’s a series of sprint battles between pit stops.
“Additionally, every week when we turn up for the IMSA series you never know who is going to be fast on any particular weekend.
“Three years ago Antonio and I managed to win at Watkins Glen, two years ago is was Ford and last year it was BMW – you really don’t know where you are at until the green flag.”
Q: What is your schedule like in the weeks ahead?
A: “I’ve got a busy few weeks with five race weekends in six weeks in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and back home in the Danish Thundersports Championship.
Technically I actually have six races in six weeks, but unless I can find some way to clone myself – it’ll be tough to be doing IMSA and Thundersports at the same time over the first weekend in August.
“But we just take it one weekend at a time, starting with Watkins Glen This weekend.
It should be a good run of tracks for us, the team has won races at Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park in recent years so we’re hopeful the Corvette will be strong”.
Q: With temperatures forecasted to be close to 37 degrees celsius, 100 degrees fahrenheit, how does the team cope that?
A: “Being inside the car isn’t bad because we have a great cooling package with air conditioning, helmet cooler and a cooled seat.
“But making sure we’ve got the right Michelin tire at the right time in the heat of the day will be important. That’s where our Corvette Racing guys really excel, with the number crunching to put us on the right strategy at the right time.
Q: Hitting mid-season, do you start thinking about the championship?
A: “Getting on a run at this time of the year is really critical in the points battle. Both the No. 3 and No. 4 Corvettes both have 111 points so far – we are only 10 points off the championship lead.
“One bad weekend can really knock you around. Whatever happens, you have to keep digging and pushing all the way to the finish.
“Like last year, this year’s championship is going to go right down the wire.”
Q: F1 is also entering a busy time of year. How pleased are you with Kevin’s latest form?
A: “Kevin had another stellar race at Paul Ricard with great haul of points. The fact that he has scored every one of Haas’s points this year is just incredible.
“He really likes the car this year, he has been working really well with the team and reliability has been good.
“There is still a long season ahead – another 13 races to go but he certainly loving life at the moment and looking forward to the race in Austria this weekend.”