Corvette Racing are ready for their Texas adventure as the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) gets ready for a double header with the World Endurance Championship (WEC) deep in the Lone Star state in Austin.
For the first time the Circuit of the Americas will play host to endurance racing following an opening two years which have already seen it host Formula One, Grand Am and the V8 Supercars. Corvette will be hoping that their two car effort will take the first and last ALMS GT victory at the circuit.
Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, championship leaders in the #4, will be hoping that their good form can continue at the event which starts the run in to the showcase event Petit le Mans.
Gavin said of the track: “It is the most recently built big racing facility in the United States and built to Formula One spec. It’s impressive and a great track. It has a number of challenges and a couple of different personalities. From Turn 1 to Turn 10 is all high-speed, long-duration corners. You need a car with a lot of downforce to get through there quickly. Then it goes from there to basically a circuit of very long straightaways and hairpin turns. That’s all about straightline speed and braking. Getting back to the pit area, you’ve got a very long right-hander and then a quick left-hander where you go into another hairpin to the frontstraight. You could run a low-downforce setup or a high-downforce setup and maybe make either work there. We will have to wait and see when the time comes.”
Indeed in the #3 sister Corvette, Antonio Garcia is also looking forward to the challenge of a new track on a calendar that doesn’t normally see many changes: “It will be difficult and different. Teams in the ALMS are used to running through the same schedule of events. With new events, the team becomes a bigger part of it. It’s true we had a couple of test days late last year, but in the end we don’t know what to expect. There have been some races there and maybe the track has changed a little bit. Now it’s up to the team to judge what will be the ideal setup to start the weekend and develop a program to approach the race.
“If I were running the Formula One season or more of the European season, it would be just another track and similar to many there. I knew from the past a few of the tracks are designed by the same person. When you go around COTA, it is a combination of Turkey, Bahrain and Shanghai together. But because we don’t have tracks like this, it’s different and it’s great to have. It is good for everyone. Maybe it takes away a little bit of bravery because of the run-off areas, but I think everyone will be very close because of that. It will be challenging for sure.”
In the GT manufacturers standings Corvette have a 20 point advantage over BMW with 64 points still available from the final three races. While it looks like a done deal that the yellow machines can maintain their lead coming out of Petit, anything can happen in the world of endurance racing.
For people in the UK, the race is live on Motors TV with the two hour 45 minute race starting at 9.45pm. For American viewers ESPN3 is streaming the race live at 3.45pm local time with a repeat being broadcast on ESPN2 at 1pm Eastern the day after. www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will be live Tweeting the race on @tcfsportscars starting at 9.30pm.