Few races are as physically demanding on a driver as the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. The only thing that could make it more difficult is to compete in an 8-hour race the night before, which is what the Corvette Racing trio of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller are going to do.
The team will be racing as the No. 63 Corvette Racing entry in the WEC’s LMGTE-Pro class in the 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday night and turn around and come right back as the familiar No. 3 Corvette Racing entry in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
“This one will be different than usual,” Garcia said.
Garcia said it wasn’t as though Corvette went and asked which drivers would like to do double duty.
“It wasn’t quite a question, they just kind of told me,” he quipped. “The only downside is that there are 10 hours in between the races, but I’m happy to do two races in two days.”
Corvette Racing is no stranger to the World Endurance Championship, making the journey to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so there is a bit of familiarity with the rules and regulations of the other series.
While Corvette Racing has picked up victories at Le Mans, the team is hopeful its familiarity with Sebring International Raceway will pay dividends Friday night and the team’s success at Sebring has been well-documented.
“Ever since I joined Corvette the car seems to fit that racetrack very well,” Garcia said. “It’s one of the race tracks we test the most. Even in the worst years we have, we have always been competitive there.
“We’ve been racing there forever it seems. This will be my 11th year racing at Sebring and there’s no situation we didn’t incur. Experience is always a key factor.”
But endurance racing being endurance racing, it takes more than just a fast car to end up the winner’s circle. It also takes a bit of luck, as the team has found out the hard way on occasion, as you can’t always control what the other drivers are going to do and Corvette has been taken out by competitors.
Rockenfeller said it’s a combination of things that makes Corvette Racing so tough at Sebring.
“It’s everything and Corvette has everything,” he said. “We have great drivers, the best team, the best crew, a great car which is well known, so we have all the ingredients. Now we just need to have two good days in a row.”
The two races will be a little different in some aspects, Garcia said, as the speed of the non-GT cars is a little bit different with the LMP1 cars, but he said most of the drivers in the LMGTE-Pro class have raced against each many times in the past.
Corvette Racing will also have plenty of supporters both days and that’s something the team is appreciative of.
“It makes things a little easier knowing you have a big fan base there,” Garcia said. “The amount of support we have there is incredible. I wouldn’t really be able to give a number, but I think more than 50 percent of the people attending there are Corvette fans. The environment at Sebring is great and I always look forward to getting back there.”
Rockenfeller said the fans at Sebring have always been great and he was positive they would like the new race format.
“The first time I came to Sebring, in 05 I think, my teammates said you need to go in the infield if you have a chance just to see how crazy the people are and how many fans are there and really loving racing and the whole scene,” he said. “Some people you see year after year and the fans have a great opportunity to see a lot of action, more than usual.”
Rockenfeller said he’s been working hard on endurance training and he knows it will be tough, but he and the entire Corvette Racing team is ready to go out there and battle as hard as they can, which was echoed by Garcia.
“It would be great to win both, but we’ll give it our all,” Garcia said.