Covette Racing testing at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Credit: Richard Prince/Corvette Racing Photo)

Covette Racing testing at Sebring International Raceway (Photo Credit: Richard Prince/Corvette Racing Photo)

It's shakedown time for Team Chevrolet and the Compuware Corvette C6.R. The 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is upon us.  When they arrived at Sebring for the official, two-day, pre-season test session, Team Chevrolet brought the full team (including team mascot, Jake), and some new faces to the paddock.

As announced here at The Checkered Flag, last month, Corvette Racing are full-steam-ahead with their two new Corvette C6.R chassis, a fresh new driver, and a whole new plan of attack for the 2012 season.

Making his debut in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R for Corvette Racing, twenty-year-old, Jordan Taylor of Apopka, FL, split the piloting duties between his co-drivers, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. Sliding into the cockpit of the No. 4 car were Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Richard Westbrook.

Taylor wasted no time making the adjustments to both his new team and his new car.  Listed as the ‘third’ for Sebring, Le Mans, and Petit Le Mans, Taylor shared his feelings. “It's been exciting so far, being teamed with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia for the three long-distance races. It's a lot of pressure but also a huge opportunity for me to drive with these guys and to learn from them.”

Taylor went on to say, “Every time I get out of the car, I compare the data with them to see where I can improve.  Yesterday, Jan was helping me with Turn 1 and now I'm on pace with the quicker guys. Things are going really well, so far!”

The fire-breathing, yellow-jacketesque liveried Corvette C6.Rs completed nearly 15 issue-free hours of operation.  With the long runs taking precedence over the sprint laps, the Corvettes still set a considerably blistering pace over last year's GT pole-setting 2:01.561. Keeping in mind that this is the winter test and things stand to be significantly different at race time, the pair of Corvette C6.Rs were turning impressive laps.  The No. 4 Corvette turned a 2:00:700 lap, while the No. 3 cranked out a 2:00:799.

Clearly satisfied with the performance of the Corvettes, Tommy Milner said, “The work that the team has done during the off-season gives me a lot of confidence. I can really feel the results when I drive the car, and that's very encouraging.  Every test matters and every outing counts because the racing is so competitive in GT. Everyone at Corvette Racing is looking forward toward our ultimate goals-winning races, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and winning the ALMS GT championship.  Testing here in Sebring with our competitors has given us a benchmark to see how our work has paid off.”

Oliver Gavin shared Milner's sentiment, “The new car is very good, and the wider track has helped with the balance.  I would almost say that this GT Corvette C6.R handles like the GT1 Corvettes that we raced several years ago.  It's simply amazing how the technology, the aerodynamic development, and all of the work done by Corvette Racing's engineers and crew have taken us a step forward for 2010.”

Richard Westbrook, third for the No. 4 Corvette C6.R, “Everyone has been very determined this winter, and so far, so good.” Westbrook continued, “The car feels great. It's not just aero, the engines, or one single thing – the Corvette team has taken 50 small items and improved them across the board.  As we know, everyone in this class improves every year, so it's going to be tough as ever, but we feel we're in good shape.”

As in the 2008 ALMS championship, Jan Magnussen displays the same winning confidence in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. “I'm very positive with everything that we've tried.  We've gone in a new direction with this car, and when we try something new, we find another 100 things that we want to try! I think this test has been super-productive, and the new car is responding well to the changes we're making. It's always difficult at the Winter Test because the track will be quite different during the Sebring 120-hour race – but I think we are in good shape.”

Shifting his role from the third, to a full-season seat in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R, Antonio Garcia has his expectations set high.  “We have put all our effort into making this car as fast as possible.  There have been big changes overall to the bodywork, so there was a lot of work to be done by the engineers and the crew in the shop.  We have certainly improved since last year – the question is, 'How much have the others improved as well?' We won't know that until the race, so we just need to focus on our program.  I think we will have a very competitive car to fight for victory in the 60th running of the Sebring 12-hour race.”

Corvette Racing will flex their muscle as the season gets underway at the 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, at Sebring International Raceway on March 17, 2012.