Photo: Richard Prince/Corvette Racing

Corvette Racing continues its endurance race roll at Sebring

Leave a comment

Last year, Corvette Racing secured the first two legs of an endurance race triple crown sweep at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida.

They then completed the 2015 triple crown sweep at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the blue riband event for the team, except with the No. 3 Corvette C7.R unable to start (renumbered No. 63 at Le Mans per the class number system) and the No. 4 Corvette C7.R (renumbered as No. 64) claiming an emotional victory as the lone Corvette standing.

What that’s then done is propelled the No. 4 pairing of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner into the stratosphere where now they’ve captured a triple crown of their own: they won Le Mans and have now opened up the 2016 season with wins at Daytona and Sebring. They won Le Mans with Jordan Taylor and that trio will be set to defend that; meanwhile Audi factory driver Marcel Fassler has been part of the opening two U.S. race wins in 2016.

So now Gavin and Milner are in the position where teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia were this time last year – winners of the opening two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races but hopeful that this won’t be the end of their winning run.

“It’s the perfect start, really,” Gavin said Saturday night. “It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s a great head start in the championship.

“But there will be many more bumps in the road from here. Long Beach is very different. In terms of enduros, our next big one is Le Mans… and that’s our biggest race of the year.”

Milner’s drive Saturday at Sebring was excellent, particularly when he took on wet tires early – then watched as Fassler and Gavin handled the tricky middle portion of the trace – and then went back in to the finish. Fassler actually hit a sign at one point, and a portion was wedged into the car – but it wasn’t bad enough to take the car out of contention.

“I’d had one big moment in Turn 1, as it was snappy on exit, and I got on the grass and hit a Tequila Patron banner which stuck to my nose a bit and gave too much temperature to the engine,” Fassler said. “After that, it was full of sand. It was a tough stint for me. I hate to do mistakes.”

Despite the sign contact, the car rolled on.

“At the end there, as the night started to fall, the last three hours, I don’t know if I’ve had a car that good,” Milner said.

“It was difficult there with all the cautions and having the field bunched up. I’d had a 20-second lead, then another caution came out, and then I don’t think I had a big gap again. It wasn’t quite as good again. The last 15 minutes we had the yellow flag and all the GTD traffic. They were racing hard and fair. Once I got through all them, there weren’t any issues behind me.”

Gavin took time to praise the Corvette Racing team’s Sebring preparation and Milner’s drive.

“Sebring is a good track for Corvette Racing. We test here a lot. In the last four months, we’d been here twice so for five or six days. So a lot of good preparation,” he said.

“Today again showed the class and strength of Corvette Racing. With the weather, through tire choices, and with keeping the thing on the road. We dealt with very difficult conditions. (Fassler’s) our new lucky charm.

“But hat off to Tommy today. He got us in the lead the first few hours. The car wasn’t showing that much pace. But it’s wonderful to get two in a row.

“In 12 months, we’ve won 60 hours of racing. So we’re very pleased with all that.”

The win was a nice tonic after the No. 3 car got collected into Turn 1. Magnussen was on the outside and passing Lawson Aschenbach (incidentally, who drives a Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in the Pirelli World Challenge for Blackdog Speed Shop but was in his No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS this race) before Kevin Estre made it three-wide and then proceeded to take out the No. 3 car.

The No. 3 car limped back to the pits and resumed, ending ninth. On the chance the No. 3 car wins this year’s GT Le Mans class title by a point, you could look back to this race and see that this is where there was an extra point gained.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

Leave a comment

Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).