DETROIT (March 15, 2016) – Sebring and Corvette. They go together like America and apple pie. In fact, they have for 60 years now – America’s longest-running endurance race and America’s sports car. The relationship continues in 2016 as Corvette Racing returns to Sebring International Raceway for this weekend’s 64th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.
Corvette Racing is the defending winner in IMSA’s GT Le Mans class. It was the second leg of a Triple Crown season for the team, which became the first in 15 years to win the world’s three biggest endurance races in the same year: Sebring, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
A year later and Corvette Racing is back at Sebring looking to start a season two-for-two. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R won at Daytona in a historic 1-2 finish by 0.034 seconds – the smallest margin of victory in the Rolex 24 regardless of class. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller were second at Daytona in the No. 3 Corvette.
The pairings are the same for the 12 Hours, and it’s a formidable lineup. Between them, the group has 13 class victories. Gavin has five wins, Magnussen four, Garcia two, and Milner and Fässler one each; the latter’s was an overall win 2013. Magnussen and Garcia were part of the winning lineup a year ago.
The number of production-class victories for the Chevrolet badge at Sebring also is staggering. The Bowtie ranks second in Sebring history with 27 class victories. Of those, 22 were by a production-based Corvette… including nine for Corvette Racing since 2001. In all, Corvette Racing has 98 victories worldwide.
This year’s 12 Hours has added meaning for the Corvette brand as it marks the 60th anniversary of Corvette’s initial foray into motorsports. Corvette raced for the first time in the 1956 Sebring 12 Hours with five entries, one of which placed ninth overall and won its class.
The same year, work began on two special Corvettes that would race in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours – the Corvette SS and Corvette SR2. Both were purpose-built race cars that provided a foundation for future production Corvettes in terms of technology and aerodynamics. In order to highlight the early days of Corvette as a racing brand, a Corvette SR2 and Corvette SS will be on display this weekend in the Sebring Gallery of Legends.
Since the mid-50s, Corvettes have been constant entries at Sebring. That heritage was amplified when Corvette Racing arrived with the beginning of the American Le Mans Series in 1999.
In addition, Corvette Racing routinely tests at Sebring – not just to prepare for the event but also perfect many of the components that are common to the C7.R and the Corvette Z06 production car.
That first race at Sebring for the Corvette C5-R ushered in a new era of racing Corvettes at the historic track. The introduction of Corvette Racing occurred two months earlier in the Rolex 24 At Daytona but Sebring served as sort of a full circle return for the Cross Flags. This weekend marks the 17th consecutive season Corvette Racing has fielded two cars for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, plus the team has conducted a number of tests at the track over the years – including in early February.
The 2016-spec Corvette C7.R is an updated racecar due to changes in Automobile Club de l’Ouest regulations for top-level GT cars that compete in the IMSA GTLM class. There are a number of aerodynamic changes including a larger splitter at the front and diffuser at the rear of the Corvette. Side skirts and a repositioned wing also are among the most notable changes, along with updated safety features that are now mandated on all GTLM cars.
The powertrain on the Corvette C7.R is unchanged from 2015 with a 5.5-liter V-8 Chevrolet small block powering the race car. The Corvette C7.R will use E20 fuel during the IMSA season and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 64th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is set for 10:40 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 19. It will air on FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Sports Go. Live audio coverage from IMSA Radio is available on IMSA.com.
Corvette, Chevrolet on Display at Sebring
In addition to the on-track activity at Sebring, fans can learn all they need to know about Chevrolet by visiting the Corvette Racing Display from Thursday to Saturday in the Sebring Midway. Among the Chevrolet attractions at the Display and at Sebring include:
The Corvette Racing display opens 9 a.m., Thursday and 8 a.m., Friday and Saturday.
In addition, Chevrolet will pace the two highest-profile races of the Sebring weekend – the 12 Hours of Sebring andFriday’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge – with an arctic white Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The Sebring 12 Hours is a race that I think everyone at Corvette Racing looks forward to. A big reason is our success there with nine wins including last year. It was a good example of what can happen at Sebring. We did not have the fastest car but we had the best strategy and didn’t make any mistakes as drivers or in the pits. At the end of the day, that was the difference.
“Sebring is an important place for everyone at Corvette Racing. We have had many tests there that help us get ready not just for the IMSA season but also Le Mans as well. Cars are punished more at Sebring than any other track, including Le Mans. So if you want to see how strong a car you have, Sebring is the place to do it.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “I always like going to Sebring. It’s a classic, old-school track and one you can’t find anywhere else in the world. In a lot of ways you really like Sebring and you really dislike it, too. It’s great because the event is fantastic and we always have good support from the fans and Corvette owners. But it beats you physically like no other track. Your neck, arms, hands, knees… they’re incredibly sore after the week. But winning there is worth it. I’m hoping we can repeat and give Corvette Racing our 10th Sebring win.”
MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It will be good to be back at Sebring and competing there with Corvette Racing for the first time. There are lots of things you remember always about Sebring. One is how rough the circuit is for long stretches. It’s definitely not like any other track you will race on during the year! But that is what we all enjoy about going to Sebring is the constant challenge of the surface and the other cars in the race. Another nice part is the number of fans and how enthusiastic they are about Sebring each year. It’s very much like a party and that is one of the unique things every year that I enjoy about Sebring.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We’ve had so many great moments at Sebring. Certainly I’ve had many that personally have meant a great deal to me, and many of them came with Corvette Racing. The track has played a large role in the history of our team. We as a team and Chevrolet have used Sebring to test and develop our cars not just for the 12 Hours but also for Le Mans as well. It has been a testing and proving ground for Corvettes over the last 60 years and it has served us all well.
“The 2013 race is one I’ll remember for a long time. We had to fight and claw our way back for what felt like the entire way. Really it was a total team victory – Tommy drove a great stint, our engineers called a great race and our crew guys were spot-on. That’s what it takes to win at a race like Sebring. Everything has to be in sync. It was the same at Daytona this year and we are hoping it happens again this year at Sebring.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Sebring is such a historic track and without a doubt the most physically demanding for us each year. But that’s why it has a special place in sports car lore. The 12 Hours is a race every driver looks forward to and wants to win. Being able to add my name to that list in 2013 is something I’ll never forget. Everything came together at the end on the strategy and pit stop to put me in a position to race for the win.”
“Sebring is an important place for Corvette. It’s the first race for the brand 60 years ago, and it’s obviously played a big role in the development of Corvette Racing as one of endurance racing’s top programs. In two days of testing there, you’re able to pound and beat on your car and equipment to make sure it will last under the most extreme conditions.
MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “I am looking forward to racing again with Oliver and Tommy after our win at Daytona. It was one of the biggest and most exciting wins I’ve been a part of. Obviously have very good memories of racing and winning at Sebring. Although it has been a few years since my last 12 Hours, I always enjoyed competing there. The fans and the atmosphere are great. In a lot of ways it is like Le Mans. Our test there in February gave us valuable feedback. It was definitely a different feeling being in a GT car than a prototype but it didn’t take very many laps for me to get up to speed.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “There is only one Sebring. The unique surface conditions brutalize both the car and the driver. Unlike Daytona and Le Mans, the drivers have no opportunity to rest at any point during a lap. It is those things – and there are many – that raises Sebring to icon status in the world of road racing. We certainly have had our share of success here including an electrifying, strategy-based victory last year. So, coming off a tremendous victory at The Rolex 24 at Daytona last month, I think it’s safe to say our fans are definitely going to witness yet another epic endurance battle.”
2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – GTLM Standings (After one of 10 events)
|Driver Standings||Team Standings||Manufacturer Standings|
|1. Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 36||1. No. 4 Corvette Racing – 36||1. Chevrolet – 35|
|2. Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen/Mike Rockenfeller – 33||2. No. 3 Corvette Racing – 33||2. Porsche – 32|
|3. Earl Bamber/Michael Christensen/Frederic Makowiecki – 31||3. No. 912 Porsche North America – 31||3. Ferrari – 30|
|4. Alessandro Pier Guidi/Alexandre Premat/Memo Rojas/Daniel Serra – 29||4. No. 68 Scuderia Corsa – 29||4. BMW – 28|
|5. Bill Auberlen/Augusto Farfus/Bruno Spengler/Dirk Werner – 27||5. No. 25 BMW Team RLL – 27||5. Ford – 26|
Corvette Racing at Sebring
|1999||GTS||Fellows/Kneifel/Paul Jr.||4th||Corvette C5-R||Fellows pole|
|Pilgrim/Sharp/Heinricy||7th||Corvette C5-R||Pilgrim fastest race lap|
|2000||GTS||Fellows/Kneifel/Bell||6th||Corvette C5-R||Fellows pole|
|2002||GTS||Fellows/O’Connell/Gavin||1st||Corvette C5-R||Fellows pole|
|Gavin/Collins/Pilgrim||3rd||Corvette C5-R||Gavin pole|
|2004||GTS||Fellows/O’Connell/Papis||1st||Corvette C5-R||Fellows pole|
|Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen||6th||Corvette C5-R||Gavin fastest race lap|
|2007||GT1||Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen||1st||Corvette C6.R||Magnussen pole, fastest race lap|
|Beretta/Gavin/Papis||1st||Corvette C6.R||Gavin fastest race lap|
|Beretta/Gavin/Fassler||2nd||Corvette C6.R||Gavin pole, fastest race lap|
|2012||GT||Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor||2nd||Corvette C6.R||Magnussen pole|
|Gavin/Milner/Liddell||6th||Corvette C7.R||Gavin fastest race lap|