LAST OF THE NON-OIL BURNERS
Porsche’s RS Spyder in 2008 upset the diesels from
Audi and Peugeot. Its win stands as the last for a
gasoline-fueled car since the diesels began in 2006, and
the only non-Audi or Peugeot win at Sebring since 2000.
Corvette’s strategy in taking down the
“next guys” – regular ALMS rivals from
BMW, Porsche and Ferrari, plus a handful
of extra WEC GT entrants – includes
shuffling its driver lineup. The team’s No. 4
entrant is its“tall car,” with the willowy trio
of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and enduro
extra Richard Westbrook. In the No. 3, the,
er, more compact Jan Magnussen will drive
alongside Antonio Garcia for a full year,
with Jordan Taylor called up for enduros.
“You have to address the physical aspect
and driving style to make it work with six
different drivers, and there is compromise,”
Fehan says. “But our alignments this year
should go a long way toward optimizing the
changes we made with the car.”
Because of rule changes in the class,
the 2012 Corvette is wider by two inches,
and also features a redesigned front
suspension and a higher rear wing.
Its two American drivers, Milner and
Taylor, have varying goals for their season.
needing a last-second “buzzer-beater” to secure a victory.
Milner, a former BMW recruit entering his second season with
GM, is looking to cut down on mistakes, up his consistency and
match his level from last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, where he
helped lead his car to the GTE Pro class victory.
“I didn’t have an awful first year, as Le Mans was great and
Sebring (podium) was good to start the year,” he recalls. “But there
was a lot to forget – largely from trying too hard, wanting to do the
best job possible all the time. Looking back, I found over-asserting
yourself doesn’t always get the results you’re looking for.”
New hire Taylor is only 20, but a racing “lifer,” having grown
up entirely around the sport with his dad Wayne and older
brother Ricky. Now, the regular Rolex Series pilot has another
chance to learn the intricacies of endurance racing and realize
his opportunity to become recognized on a world stage.
“The pressure is there, but it’s good to keep me on my toes,”
he says. “Testing this track itself for the first time, you see how
line sensitive it is through Turns 17 and 1 with the bumps. You
don’t want a big, snap, oversteer moment. But my teammates
have been through pretty much everything, and that expertise
they’ve provided can’t be bought from a coach.”
With the pressure and prestige of this year’s event on tap,
rest assured both teams want to emerge from the race not
(MAIN) The blend of prototypes and GTs means passing maneuvers are near constant and there’s always something to watch. (ABOVE) Corvette Racing sophomore Tommy Milner aims to be a more complete package in 2012.