Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen secured their second consecutive GT Le Mans Drivers’ Championship on Saturday at Road Atlanta and the third in a row for Corvette Racing, but the ten-hour endurance race was not without troubles for the #3 crew.
The duo, as well as co-driver Marcel Fassler, looked on course to comfortably secure the title only for Garcia to crash into the barriers whilst the race was under yellow flag conditions, sending the car to the pit lane and behind the wall for repairs.
The car lost two laps and had to rely on the sister #4 Corvette of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Fassler (again!) to keep the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing machine of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon from winning the title instead.
The #4 not only did what they needed to, finishing second to the #911 Porsche GT Team entry of Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki, but the #67 also fell behind the two BMW Team RLL entries to fifth, ensuring Garcia’s ‘embarrassing’ moment did not cost them the title.
“It was definitely a tough race,” admitted Garcia on CorvetteRacing.com. “From Lap 1, I went in the lead and every time I was in the car I was going for it instead of holding position.
“It probably went from one of my best races of my career to the most embarrassing moment of my career. But that means Team Chevy and Corvette Racing did all the prep work before this race and allowed us to come back from that.
“Thank you to the 4 car for keeping the pressure up on the 67 car, which had to go for the win for the (championship) result. That’s part of this championship – the 4 car keeping the pressure up at the end.
“I’m very happy. It will take me a little bit to forget that mistake, but I’m very happy for the whole team.”
Magnussen agreed with his co-driver about the amazing job the #4 did to deny the #67 Ford the title, and he admits his pride at being involved in such a fantastic team effort at Road Atlanta and beyond.
The Dane admitted that there were thoughts going through his mind that the title was going to slip away from them, but ultimately their joint-worst result of 2018 did not prevent them securing the title.
“The way it turned out, the way the 4 car went in there and really put pressure on changed things around,” said Magnussen. “Fantastic. Such a massive team effort to make this happen. I’m so proud to be a part of this.
“We had a good car and were going to be right there in the mix and the pit exit stuff happened and put everything on its head. It looked like we were out of it, trying to figure out how to still make it happen.
“I think what really did it was the 4 car got sent super aggressively and changed the balance of things. Obviously the 4 car went for the win but they knew why they were doing it. It turned things in our favour.”