For the 10th time in the 15-year history of the American Le Mans Series, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet are season champions. Chevrolet won the ALMS Maufacturers Championship for the 10th time, as did Corvette Racing in the team category. Despite intense competition within the GT class, the championships came before the season’s final round. But it took until the last race for Corvette drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen to clinch the GT drivers championship.
Garcia and Magnussen finished third on the podium at the Oak Tree Grand Prix on October 5 at Virginia International Raceway, the next-to-last race of the season, to clinch both team and manufacturer titles. The pair took a 16-point advantage into the final race – the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Georgia – where they wrapped the title with a sixth-place finish. “Today was probably the most important sixth-place finish in Corvette Racing history,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager.
The GT class in the Amercian Le Mans Series consists of some of the most brutal competition in all of sports car racing, with Corvette going up against Ferrari, BMW, SRT Viper and Porsche. As a manufacturer, Chevrolet experiments with and hunts for new and better technology. A commited team collaborates to build a world-class car to challenge the competition, both on the track and in the showroom.
The technology and lessons learned on the racetrack frequently makes its way to Chevrolet production cars, with the new C7 (seventh generation) 2014 Corvette Stingray a prime example. As engineers and designers perfected the aerodynamics of the Stingray, they relied on data gleaned from Corvette Racing to help balance front and rear grip for high-speed stability. On Stingray coupe, air intakes are integrated into the rear quarter panels, similar to the NACA ducts on the Corvette race car.
It’s no accident that the new Corvette Stingray Driver Mode Selector has a “Track” setting, said Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager, in addition to “Tour,” “Eco” and “Sport” modes. “The result is a more rewarding, more confident experience,” he said, “whether you’re commuting in a downpour or charging through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca.”
Racing is so often a brutally honest, demanding test bed for new ideas. “The key has been a group of people who have stuck together and functioned properly as a team,” Magnussen says. “Weekend after weekend, we are able to get that high level of performance from the mechanics, engineers, other crew and drivers.”
“The ALMS GT class was as deep and competitive as ever in 2013,” said Mark Kent, Chevrolet director of racing. “Winning the manufacturer championship required the highest level of teamwork from our group, Pratt & Miller, and GM Racing Powertrain.”
This is a particularly historic time for the Corvette Racing team for two reasons: Petit Le Mans was the last race for the Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, one of the most successful sports cars in recent racing history. Next year, Chevrolet will race the C7.R in the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class and at 24 Hours of Le Mans, “By any measure, the Corvette C6.R has rightfully earned a place among the greatest sports cars of the modern era,” Fehan said. Its on-track successes have proven to be a more-than-worthy successor to the C5.R. Teamed together, these two proud representations of the Corvette production car have made Corvette Racing the most successful team in ALMS history.
“It’s a very special car and has won so many races around the world,” said Garcia.
And Petit Le Mans closed out the era of the American Le Mans Series. The ALMS has joined forces with the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series to form the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for 2014, with the season kicking off at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in January. The Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype already took the manufacturers and drivers championships in the Rolex Series, and that car will race alongside the C7.R next year, albeit in an entirely different class.
With sports car racing united under a single banner, and with a potent, high-profile race schedule for 2014, it should be the perfect platform for the new Corvette C7.R to shine.