France – of all things – is the source of the most help for Corvette Racing this week as they prepare for the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Road America.
The Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track – one of the US's most famous road courses – features long straights and sweeping turns among its 4.05 mile length, which makes it a match, at least in the eyes of Corvette, for Le Mans.
Because of these characteristics Elkhart Lake played host to much of the team's testing, before embarking for the historic 24 Hours, leaving them not only better prepared for La Sarthe, but to race for victory in the GT2 of the ALMS at the track.
“We tested at Road America this year in preparation for Le Mans, and I’m looking forward to going back to a track where we raced the GT2-spec Corvettes last year,” notes driver Jan Magnussen. “We are probably starting at a higher level because of the amount of testing we have done there, but it will still be a very tough, difficult race. We know what we can do, and we also know what our competition can do. We’ll try to be smart and take advantage of the knowledge that we have gathered there.”
“The most important aspect of the car setup is the aerodynamic balance,” explains Ken Flory, the chief engineer for the no.3 Corvette C6.R Magnussen shares with Johnny O'Connell. “Getting the aero balance right is crucial at Le Mans. If we get it set up right for Elkhart Lake, it’s generally pretty good for Le Mans as well.”
“You run as little downforce as you can get away with at Road America because it is such a high-speed track,” Magnussen expands. “The more downforce you take away to find top speed, the more exciting the Carousel and the Kink become because the car moves around a lot.”
Armed with the additional knowledge, and one year's extra experience with the GT2 class Corvette the team hope to improve on the third place result Magnussen and O'Connell achieved last year.
The pair were among the fastest in the class twelve months ago, though they still finished a lap behind the leader after the field was split by an early safety car intervention.
That will not be problem at this weekend's two-hour, 45-minute event as a new rule was introduced after last year's race.
All Magnussen and O'Connell (and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the sister no.4 car) need to do now is win the battle in the GT2 class.