Jan Magnussen is back with Corvette Racing this weekend in Austin for the first of two FIA WEC races with the C8.R. The Dane, who was released from his full-time drive with the factory team after the 2019 IMSA season, is tasked with putting additional miles on the C8.R ahead of the two big races at Sebring and Le Mans with Mike Rockenfeller.
While he didn’t take part in the Rolex 24 with the team, Magnussen was involved in the development program for the C8.R, so he’s not completely alien to the new mid-engined machine.
“Got a chance to drive it up Road America, a little bit of Sebring, and then quite a bit at the last year,” he told RACER. “But obviously, no laps around here. So I’ve done some time in the simulator last week to get ready. Tomorrow we’ll have two times two-hour practice sessions, and we better get to know it quickly.
“The whole sensation when driving this new car is different. It’s a big step from the (front-engined) C7, which was an old design. Even though it’s the same weight, the balance of the car is in the middle and it feels more nimble. It’s early days, but you can navigate fast corners easier, it’s a great experience. It has so much potential.”
The last time the WEC raced in Texas was back in 2017, so most of the cars on the grid this season have turned no laps on the circuit in their current form during a WEC meeting. The track was also resurfaced over the winter, meaning there will be a learning curve this weekend for even the drivers with the most experience racing here, as the WEC is the first major championship to race on the new tarmac. The Corvette Racing crew may have a little bit of an advantage, though, when it comes to knowledge of the changes.
“We haven’t run the car on the new surface, and I haven’t driven here yet, but we do have a little bit of information from the (Chevrolet) IndyCar guys (who tested at CoTA this month) about what to expect in the areas that have been repaved,” said Magnussen. “I think it’ll be a much nicer experience.”
Beyond getting some more milage for the car, there’s no real expectations at this stage from Corvette. Winning, or even reaching the podium will not be easy up against cars from Aston Martin, Porsche and AF Corse, all of whom are locked in a title battle in the middle of one of the most competitive GTE Pro seasons in the WEC’s history.
“Here and at Sebring it will give the team a chance to get more up to speed with the car, and of course, keep the ACO happy,” Magnussen said.
“We’ll make sure we get good data for BoP here, all that stuff. Getting a couple more races in before Le Mans could prove to be crucial. At Daytona the car was fast and mostly reliable. There were issues at Daytona but they’ve all been addressed. To get one car to the finish in a race like that which broke the distance record is pretty impressive.”
Beyond Sebring, Magnussen’s plans with Corvette is unclear. Will he be back, or will this serve as a ‘farewell tour’ of sorts for the Dane, who has been with Corvette Racing since the early 2000s?
“I don’t know what the future brings right now,” he admitted. “It’s just a deal for CoTA and Sebring, we’ll see what happens after that. I’m so thrilled though, it’s nice to be back with the guys I’ve worked with for so long. I’m so pleased to be back, I wanted to be a part of the C8.R’s history.”