Corvette Racing claimed the first victory for the seventh generation Corvette C7.R in dominant fashion in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. The third event of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship saw Michelin and its technical partner teams claim the first seven positions in the highly competitive race.
Taking the victory were the 2013 American Le Mans Series GT champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The victory on the 1.968 mile circuit was the fifth GT category win for Corvette at Long Beach in eight years and the first win for the newest generation Corvette in its first season of competition.
Finishing second in GTLM was the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE of BMW Team RLL, driven by Dirk Mueller and John Edwards. Taking third was the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. After Corvette’s Magnussen won the class pole in qualifying, Milner set the fastest GTLM lap of the race at 1:18.954 seconds. The top Michelin technical partner team cars from BMW, Corvette Racing and Porsche North America all turned race laps within 0.5 seconds of that mark.
“We are delighted that all of our Michelin technical partner teams were able to race competitively and take full advantage of our tire performance,” said Ken Payne, motorsports technical director, Michelin North America. “We are pleased for our friends at Corvette Racing as they celebrate their first victory with the new car in just its third race.” said Payne.
Michelin and Corvette have developed a very close collaboration for both the race team and the new 2014 Corvette Stingray C7 and 2015 Corvette Z06 production models.
All of the top GTLM cars followed a FIFO (First In-First Out) race strategy, making a single pit stop just 41 minutes into the 100 minute race and taking on fuel and tires for the remaining hour in a race that was free of caution periods.
Overall race honors went to the Ford Ecoboost powered Chip Ganassi Racing entry driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
The key to the GT victory was a confident move by Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia at the start of the 100 minute race.
“Our Michelin tires warm up very quickly and I was able to make an aggressive move heading into the very first turn and got by one of the top Prototype class cars,” said Garcia. “Every car you can put between yourself and the competition is good.” Garcia steadily pulled away to a 10.5 second advantage. “The prototypes seemed to take longer to get their tires warmed up and that was enough to help us get away,” said Garcia.