IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Heading into the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (Oct. 10-13) – the season finale for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – this is the first in a series in which the primary championship contenders in each of the three classes are compared.
Over the next four days, we’ll feature the GTLM class (today), Prototype (Thursday), GTD (Friday) and an all-encompassing look at next week’s overall event (Saturday).
Today, we’ll take a look at the Chevrolet vs. Ford battle for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) championship:
No. 3 Corvette Racing
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen
Engine: 5.5-liter normally aspirated V8 (front engine)
Points: 299 – 1st
2018 Victories: 0
2018 Podiums: 8
How The No. 3 Can Clinch the Title: The No. 3 team will eliminate all others except for the No. 67 by starting the race. It can clinch the title outright with a fourth-place run or better. It would be the team’s second consecutive WeatherTech Championship GTLM title.
2018 Performance: The No. 3 team comes into Motul Petit Le Mans riding a streak of seven consecutive podium results and a total of eight podiums from 10 races this season. The team has finished fourth or better in all but one race this season.
Noteworthy: Since the start of the 2017 WeatherTech Championship, Magnussen and Garcia have finished inside the top five in 20 of 21 races. They missed the top five with an eighth-place showing in March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
What They’re Saying:
ANTONIO GARCIA – “There’s always pressure when you go to Road Atlanta, especially when you are fighting for a championship. We were in a perfect scenario last season where we only needed to start to clinch. It won’t be like that this year. I really like this track and the event itself. It’s very challenging. Hopefully we have a good chance to win the championship by scoring a good result. Road Atlanta has always been a good track for Corvette Racing, but it’s one race that I still haven’t won. So, I definitely want to fix that. Hopefully we can do that and win the championship, as well. It would be great for us to win our first race of the year to clinch the championship.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN – “Last year was an easy Petit Le Mans for us; we basically took the green flag and won the championship. This year for sure will be different. It’s a tough race because you race throughout the day and into the night. Road Atlanta is a very tough circuit; it’s bumpy, super-fast and very old school. If you make a mistake, you’ll hit something! There’s a lot of traffic and some new drivers because so many teams use three drivers. The important thing is that we know what we need to. No one controls luck, but if we do the best we can and run the plan that we set out to do, we will be in good shape.”
No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Richard Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged Ford EcoBoost V6 (mid-engine)
Points: 290 – 2nd
2018 Victories: 3
2018 Podiums: 4
How The No. 67 Can Clinch the Title: There are a several possibilities, but the most straightforward scenario is the No. 67 team would take the championship with a race win AND a result of fifth or worse by the No. 3 Corvette. The No. 67 holds the tiebreaker with three victories to none for the No. 3 team.
2018 Performance: Westbrook and Briscoe lead the GTLM class with three victories this season, in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.
Noteworthy: The No. 67 team led the GTLM standings from the season opener at Daytona until the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, when they were overtaken by the No. 66 Ford GT team of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. One Ford Chip Ganassi Racing car or the other led the championship until the No. 3 Corvette team took the lead for the first time following the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway in August.
What They’re Saying:
RICHARD WESTBROOK – “We had a test in Atlanta and hoped to see a preview of what the weather will be like in a few weeks during the race, but with fall now upon us, that is not always the case. It was a good chance to try some different stuff to last year and build on the good performance we had there last year. We are obviously going for the win after the disappointment of Laguna and will hopefully put some pressure on the (No.) 3 Corvette.”
RYAN BRISCOE – “I think obviously we’ve fallen a bit behind on the points, but we can still win it and we have one goal, to go out and win the race and see where the points fall at the end of it. It’s an important race to win no matter where you are in the championship, so you’re going to have everyone gunning for the win. It’s always an exciting race, one of my favorites.”
Others in mathematical contention for the GTLM title:
* No. 66 Ford GT (Mueller, Hand); No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR (Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor)
* No. 4 Corvette C7.R (Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin); No. 25 BMW M8 GTE (Alexander Sims, Connor De Phillippi); No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR (Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet).