Corvette Racing Dominates the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona
The 2015 Tudor United Sports Car Championship season is a big one for Corvette Racing, as they take to their second year in the C7 Corvette Z06-based C7.R. The #3 and #4 Corvette teams had plenty of success in 2014, but mechanical gremlins on and off throughout the season prevented them from winning the GT LeMans championship. The twin Corvette C7.R teams came into Daytona with a point to prove, and they couldn’t have done so with any greater emphasis.
Fast All Weekend
The Chevrolet Corvette C7.R teams came into Daytona looking to assert themselves as the top dogs for the 2015 Tudor championship season, and they did so in a big way. The #3 Corvette driven by Jan Magnusson, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe and the #4 Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Simon Pagenaud were in the upper half of the field throughout the first two practice sessions and come qualifying, Oliver Gavin laid down the quickest lap of the class in the #4 car. The #3 Corvette wasn’t quite as fast, qualifying 5th, but that C7.R was the second quickest GTLM car in the final practice session before the big race.
In short, the C7.R Corvette race cars were the odds-on favorites heading into the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Leading Throughout the Race
The #4 Corvette started first in the GTLM class and spent the first 12 or so hours either in the lead, or in the hunt for the lead. While the #3 Corvette started 5th, that team quickly worked to the front of the segment and for much of the first half of the Rolex 24, the two Corvettes took turns at the front of the field. Unfortunately, just past the 12 hour mark, the #4 car came to a stop on the track with a flat tire that shoved him back in the field, leaving the #3 Corvette to battle with the best from Ferrari and BMW at the front of the GTLM class.
Over the next 6 hours, the #4 Corvette worked its way back to the front of the GTLM field and the Corvettes looked to be ready to battle for a 1-2 finish – until the #4 car got tangled up with a slowed prototype car that resulted in fairly extensive damage across the front end. The team had to head to the pits for several new front end components, which cost them 4 laps and put them out of contention for the win. The #4 Corvette finished a very respectable 3rd in class and 8th overall.
The Final Run
With the #4 Corvette out of contention for the win, the final few hours had the #3 Corvette battling with the #25 BMW Z4 GTE. These were the only two GTLM cars on the same lap and as the time ran down, the BMW was hot on the heels of the bright yellow Corvette. Fortunately for Corvette Racing fans, Antonio Garcia was able to hold off the storming Bimmer to take the class win by a margin of just under a half second.
In the end, the 1-3 finish was an incredible achievement for the Corvette Racing program and this should be the first step to what could be a championship season for the C7.R.
Rough Finish in Daytona Prototype
The Corvette Daytona Prototype cars dominated the 2014 Tudor championship season and the likes of Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing were the teams to beat at the 2015 Rolex 24. After being at the front of the field literally all day long, even working through some mechanical issues, the #10 Corvette DP of Wayne Taylor Racing looked like it would cruise to victory over the #02 Ford EcoBoost DP.
However, in the final half hour, WTR realized that they had made a math error and if driver Jordan Taylor had driven to the checkered flag, they would be in violation of the driver time rules. This force Taylor to dive into the pits for a driver change – a move which would force them to settle for a very disappointing third place finish. Leading up to the driver change, the #10 Corvette DP certainly appeared to be quick enough to beat the #02 Ford that ended up winning the race.
The #5 Action Express Corvette DP battled back from mechanical issues of its own and finished a close 2nd, so barring other math problems, it looks like the Corvette DP teams will be in the run for the championship in 2015.
Image: Corvette Racing Facebook Page