2013 AmERIcAN lE mANs sERIEs GT
The Alms GT game, insofar as how it has
been played in recent years, involves the
pushing of boundaries and comfort
zones with the rule makers at ImsA.
Want to win a championship in 2014?
much of the work that will lead to a title
gets done via telephone and email and
with data traces to gain advantages.
A wider track, an increase in rear-wing
height, opening or closing a piece of
bodywork to cheat the air or decrease
drag…it’s the off-season lobbying that
sets the stage for so much of what ends
up taking place on the race track.
Ferrari won the lobbying wars in 2011
and claimed the title. corvette followed suit
in 2012, asking for essentially the same
concessions given to the Prancing Horse,
and came out ahead of the field. For 2013,
the sRT Vipers used their ImsA-sanctioned
increases to wage a much stronger effort
in only their first full season of competition,
taking a win and multiple poles. Bm W
and its new Z4, by comparison, gave up
ground on the backroom negotiations
game, but still managed to run a close
second in the championship.
“It’s what happens behind closed doors
that sets the stage for who’s competitive
and who isn’t,” says Bobby Rahal. “I don’t
care for the political aspects like this that
are in sports car racing. If you’re good at
politicking, you get the benefits. It’s a
necessary part of a job, so you have to
try and be better at it than the others.
And it isn’t only reserved for the
off-season. It happens in the season,
too. Ferrari and Porsche asked for and
got a restrictor break in the middle of
the season, so you’re always having to
plead your case. Always.”
behind the scenes
frustrating not to win at least a race in
2012, but we knew everything was there
to do better this year. And that’s exactly
what happened. Sebring was bad for
me and Jan, but every single race we
went to, I only thought about that race.
I wanted to win each one and didn’t allow
myself to think about the championship.”
Ask Fehan or any of the Corvette
Racing team members about the
standout performance from 2013, and
they will all point to Garcia’s epic drive to
seal the win for the No. 3 at COTA.
“It was the worst-case scenario,”
recalls Garcia. “From the previous road
course, we’d lost a bit of pace to the other
cars, so we got to COTA and, during the
dry running, we weren’t quite there.
Because of the rain, we had a good
qualifying, but didn’t know what the race
pace would be. I saw that Jan and Tommy
were struggling right away. Anyway, due to
strategy, they pitted Jan early to get me in
the car and that track position really helped
me a lot. I had good in and out laps, made
some passes and held off the BMWs.”
“Held off the BMWs?” Fehan counters.
“Antonio went out and took the race from
them, used the strategy we called to
perfection and let his driving do the
talking. He did a lot more than just hold off
the BMWs. That’s what we were so proud
of. We didn’t necessarily have the fastest
car, but we had the resolve. He put in the
performance of the year and that effort, in
the long run, helped Corvette Racing to win
the title. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
After what they missed out on in 2012,
Jan and Antonio claimed this championship
and left no question as to whether they had
the stuff to get the job done. Bravo.”
Next year, it’s reset time as Corvette
and BMW do battle in the TUDOR United
SportsCar Championship. The Z4 has a
season of experience to build on, while
Corvette will bring its brand-new C7.R to
the fight. Roles reversed, only time will tell
whether youth and enthusiasm can gain
the upper hand this time around.
“Antonio went out and took
the race from BMW, used the
strategy to perfection and let
his driving do the talking”
(tOP) bMW’s new Z4
played to its strengths
when it could, then let
reliability carry it when
it couldn’t. but in the
end, three wins, a
second and a third
gave corvette Racing’s
Antonio Garcia and
Jan Magnussen a
deserved ALMs Gt
drivers’ title (AbOVe).