@CorvetteRacing • @United SportsCar • @IMSA • MONTEREY, Calif. (May 3, 2015) – Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante gave the Corvette Daytona Prototype its third straight victory in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship on Sunday. The pairing won the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in their VisitFlorida.com Racing No. 90 Corvette DP.
Corvette Daytona Prototypes took four of the top five positions in the fourth race of the season. Sunday’s result increased Chevrolet’s lead in the Prototype Engine Manufacturer championship, and it vaulted Westbrook and Valiante into the lead of the Prototype Driver’s standings.
Westbrook finished 1.351 seconds ahead of Ricky Taylor in Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP. Taylor and brother Jordan now have a victory and two runner-up finishes in their last three races.
“It was an excellent battle between Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor to the finish today at Laguna Seca,” said Jim Lutz, Chevrolet Program Manager for Corvette Daytona Prototypes. “Richard and Michael Valiante drove well, and the quick work by the VisitFlorida.com Racing crew helped secure today’s win. Our Corvette DP program is carrying great momentum heading to our ‘home race’ in Detroit later this month.”
Valiante led the first 15 laps, and Westbrook led the final 29. The key moment came on his final pit stop with 29 minutes left when he took a quick splash of fuel without giving up the lead. Westbrook won for the second time at Laguna Seca. He and Valiante also won last year at Watkins Glen International.
The Wayne Taylor Corvette DP led three times in the race for 70 laps. Jordan Taylor started the race from pole position.
Action Express Racing’s two Corvette DPs were fourth and fifth. Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP finished just ahead of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP.
In GT Le Mans, Corvette Racing’s two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs finished sixth and seventh in class. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette posted their best finish since a third-place result to start 2015 at Daytona. Milner qualified fifth but was balked at the start and had to cede two positions. Gavin drove the final 57 minutes and suffered a minor hit by a Prototype Challenge car but otherwise had an uneventful stint.
Two-time and defending Laguna Seca class winners Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen found frustration early and often in their race. Garcia started near the rear of the field after an overnight engine change but quickly moved through the slower GT Daytona field. Unfortunately he suffered right-front body damage as two prototypes worked their way through in a battle for the overall lead.
The next race for the Corvette Daytona Prototypes is the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic from Belle Isle Raceway in Detroit on Saturday, May 30.
Corvette Racing next heads across the Atlantic Ocean to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 13-14.
CORVETTE DP QUOTES
RICHARD WESTBROOK, VISITFLORIDA.COM RACING NO. 90 CORVETTE DP – RACE WINNER: “It was a nuts race. Michael (Valiante) got us a great start and put us in a good position. Then we had a problem with the belts on the stop and came out in fourth position, I think. I lost a position on the restart to Dane (Cameron). Then I knew what a good Corvette DP we had, and I didn’t want another third position. I just threw everything at it, and scraped a bit of paint off the car to get there. But I’m absolutely delighted. It was a good race with Ricky there at the end. We had just enough. I’m so happy for everyone at Visit Florida Racing. We were sick of coming in third to be honest. It’s about time we won. We have the championship lead, but that doesn’t matter. We have pace and we have our confidence back.”
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ON THOSE FINALS LAPS? “I wasn’t thinking about points, that is for sure. I asked the team not to tell me any information on the radio because I didn’t know how long to go. I wanted it that way so I could look after tires, and not make a mistake. The tires were done by end. I was trying to get two stints out of them, or a stint and a bit. The same for Ricky (Taylor), but he may have had a little bit more than me at the end. It was just nice to hang on for everyone at Visit Florida Racing. They have worked really hard on our Corvette DP for this. Like I said in Long Beach, we got our mojo back, and it was a great run at Long Beach. I am so delighted to be on the top step again with Michael and this awesome team.”
MICHAEL VALIANTE, VISITFLORIDA.COM RACING NO. 90 CORVETTE DP – RACE WINNER: “It was a challenge. The brakes and tires were cold going into Turn 1. I got a good start in our Corvette DP. I got on the inside of Jordan (Taylor). We made a little unintentional contact slipping down the inside. It was clean for a while, but then we hit heavy, heavy traffic. I got frustrated, I was really boxed in. I got by one PC with a little contact, going into turn 1 was a huge traffic jam. I made contact with a GTLM car, and I think it hit Jordan on the other side. We sort of forced him off the road and gave him a different line. But it was a good race.
“I had a really good start and was able to get the lead. In clean air, the Corvette DP was great. The first bit of traffic we had no problem with. It’s crazy out there with some of the inexperienced drivers and different classes. I just got boxed in on the front straight and into Turn 1, and that’s where Jordan was able to get around.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING NO. 10 KONICA MINOLTA CORVETTE DP – RUNNER-UP: “It was a good race. We knew it was going to come down between the us, the 90 and 60. We thought the 01 would be there but they had trouble. We ran well. The race was dictated by traffic. Once we hit traffic we could gain a gap or lose a big gap. That’s what really changed the race today. We were leading by 10 seconds and then we’d lose the lead. When Ricky got in, we held the lead and then pitted. Richard (Westbrook) had clean laps while Ricky had traffic, and that’s where Richard made up his time. It was more a strategy and traffic race than anything, but we can leave here with good points and be happy with second place.”
RICKY TAYLOR, WAYNE TAYLOR RACING NO. 10 KONICA MINOLTA CORVETTE DP – RUNNER-UP: “We had a really good car. Jordan did a great job in the opening stint to pull an 8-10 second gap to the 90 car. Then I got in and was able to hold a 5-6 second gap until the pit stops came around again. You can’t predict what traffic is going to do in those times. They pitted a couple of laps after us and came out of the pits as we were coming by. Three-tenths of a second and we could have gotten ahead and probably won the race. Our car was really good after that. I felt like I could put some pressure on Richard but it was a little too late and the opportunity was lost. We knew they were going to strong at the end of the race. But I think we were as strong or if not stronger. It’s a bit of a shame to have the best car and not win, but the points are good.”
JOAO BARBOSA, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP: FINISHED FOURTH: “I am happy…happy it is over. I am joking, but we are glad this weekend is over. We were never as we usually are competitive for some reason. This race track has never been very good to us. But we managed to get some good points which will be important at the end of the year. We are just looking forward to the rest of the season, and going to race tracks where we were very competitive last year. The Action Express guys worked really, really hard to get us through this weekend in the best shape possible. We did the job we were able to do and the best job possible. We are looking forward to the rest of the season.”
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 5 MUSTANG SAMPLING CORVETTE DP: FINISHED FOURTH: “I had a very good start. I think the 10 got into the 01 a little bit or the 01 into the 10. I almost managed to get a run on him but then he bumped me back because he was on the inside of the corner going into Turn 3. But I can’t complain. All in all we had a challenging car to drive during the stint.”
ERIC CURRAN, ACTION EXPRESS RACING NO. 31 WHELEN ENGINEERING/TEAM FOX CORVETTE DP – FINISHED FIFTH: “We had a reasonable day here at Laguna Seca. The No. 31 Whelen Corvette DP was a decent car all weekend, but we didn’t have the speed that we needed. Dane did a great job, charged as far as he could late in the race, but we just didn’t have pace with the leaders had this weekend. So we will take another fifth place finish. We are gaining points in the championship. So we are going to move forward and I think we will be really strong at Detroit. We will get back on pace and charge toward the front of the field.”
CORVETTE RACING GTLM QUOTES
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FINISHED SIXTH: “It was a tough day in the office today. Tommy got balked at the start by the Ferrari. It seemed that we could get up to the back of our competitors but trying to pass people was very hard. Just the way the pit stops turned out, it was me getting in for the last hour of the race. We had a glitch getting me in the car. I had a bit of a race with Jan coming into the Corkscrew. We’ve raced each other for years and know each other very well. I thought our car was quicker at the time, so I was able to get by and pull out a gap. They had damage too. Then it was a case of reeling off the laps and staying out of trouble. Some of the driving by some of the other drivers in other classes was very creative. Clearly some people haven’t gotten very much experience in the cars they are driving or at this track. With our competition seemingly having a performance advantage over us, it feels like we’re sort of driving with one arm tied behind our backs. Hopefully by the time we come back after Le Mans, there will be a tighter rules package that will make for good, strong competition.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FINISHED SIXTH: “Right at the start, the Ferrari… I don’t know what he did, but he went and then he stopped. We can’t pass before the start/finish so we got kind of messed up there. I think I lost one or two spots. Not too bad and just a little frustrating. From there just running our race. Certainly we were not as quick at the BMWs for sure, and the Porsches and Ferraris are fast enough we can’t really on pace compete with them. I had some good battles with the Falken Porsche and one of the factory Porsches there. For as bad as the traffic was, it was just holding on, keeping the nose clean and giving Olly a car he could race with.”
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FINISHED SEVENTH: “It was tough today. Starting from the rear was unfortunate but necessary. Our Corvette felt well-balanced and relatively fast early as I moved up through the GTD cars. Then I had damage when one of the prototypes slowed in front of me, and that was pretty much our day. The balance and handling of the car suffered. It is tough to pass here without damage but with it, passing is nearly impossible. It was frustrating for sure for both Jan and I because we couldn’t fight with other cars in our class. We definitely lost out on a couple of positions. But now we have to regroup and focus on Le Mans.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R – FINISHED SEVENTH: “Antonio had a fantastic start and got through the GTD cars. Unfortunately he got caught up in the DP lead battle and had a little bit of damage on the front. It really deteriorated the handling of the car and made it compromised. So when I got in the car, I was just trying to hold on to it. It was a handful. It is hard to give any good feedback to the engineers with the setup so compromised from the damage. We salvaged a few points. We now have a break from IMSA as we test and head to the biggest race of the year in Le Mans. Hopefully we can come back from France and resume the battle for the championship.”
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