Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller finished second for Corvette Racing in the Motul Petit Le Mans last weekend, missing out on victory by 1.060 seconds at the end of an enthralling ten hours of racing.
For the Spaniard and Dane however, the position ensured them as the GT Le Mans champions of 2017, finishing eighteen points ahead of the Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims BMW, with the Garcia and Magnussen being crowned champions early on at Road Atlanta.
Auberlen, Sims and Kuno Wittmer may have taken victory at Road Atlanta in the season finale, but Garcia said the spirit of Corvette helped get him through his three-hour stint behind the wheel, and that the season has been pretty much perfect from start to finish, having finished inside the top five in every race.
“I really cannot expect anything else,” said Garcia. “We gave it all we had until the last lap. Actually for a moment, I thought I had some chances for a win when an hour before I thought it was done.
“That is the spirit of Corvette Racing. That has been the spirit all year long. We never give up. Big thanks to Jan and the whole crew. For me it was very, very easy for me to believe I couldn’t make it to the end because I was in the car for three hours.
“After one hour, I was like ‘Don’t tell me I have to do another two.’ They really kept motivating me. That is part of their job and I am very thankful for that. Big thanks to Team Chevy, the whole Corvette Racing team and the whole Corvette community.
“I think other than maybe Long Beach, this was a perfect season, so thank you all!”
Magnussen was delighted to clinch the title, but he admitted it was a difficult race at Road Atlanta, especially as the whole class were at very similar pace and no one was making mistakes.
“A fantastic day and a fantastic race,” said Magnussen. “The whole category has been so close all day long. It was difficult to really make a difference out there… to pass people.
“You kind of had to wait for mistakes, but nobody made mistakes. Traffic could sort of play into it, so it was kind of waiting for the right place and the right time to take advantage. We had great strategy.
“Beating the 67 Ford out on that last stop was very important. That Ford got taken out by a prototype later on, but it was important for us to get out ahead if for nothing else than to prove a point.”
Rockenfeller, who joined Corvette Racing for the three endurance events of the season at Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, was full of praise for his championship winning team-mates, and he felt pride that he was able to help the manufacturer claim the Teams’ Championship as well.
“Congrats to Corvette Racing,” said Rockenfeller. “It’s amazing what they achieved this year, especially Antonio and Jan; they had a fantastic year to win the Driver Championship.
“The Manufacturer Championship was secured for Chevrolet so I think we fulfilled almost everything this weekend. We wanted to win as well, but the BMW was too strong. Congrats to them. It’s been a good year with Corvette Racing.”