Magnussen: The midfield is just so close

Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen is really getting his 20th Le Mans week, and is confident about the race. a talk with him about the upcoming race.

How does Corvette Racing feel ahead of the race?

“I think that we are well prepared, I think we’ve done a good work. We are faster than ever before – unfortunately there are just some who went even faster. But our focus as always been on race speed, and how constant you can be during the race. Trying to keep our self away from stupid mistakes, and keep us out of other guys battles and do our own race. That is what we have been preparing at in America. I think it has gone well his year – it went better than expected, compared to the laptimes we thought we could do. But some of the others are just really fast.

“Where we are in the field, is in the middle of a lot of cars, doing about the same speed. There are just some Porsches who are a bit faster. The midfield is so close, and it’s a tough field, but we have to see. It was the first try yesterday evening, and the track has developed a lot since, so I can’t imagine anything other than everybody tries to improve tonight, if it stays dry. Then we would have a much better or more real picture of where we are.”

Jan Magnussen
Photo: JJ Media

“But Corvette has never done a specific Qualifying setup. It has always been the race setup, where we just take out some fuel and put on new tires, and trying to do the laptime with the race setup. So it’s the race car that we try to work on all the time, and trying to get a car that goes in the right direction, when the track rubbers up. It’s two completely different cars. The one you are starting with and the one you are finishing with a completely different in relation to the feel. There is a lot more rubber on track, and the track has changed significantly. I think that Corvette has historically been super at predicting what we need for 24 hours. We will be driving 5000 kilometers, or something like that, so there is a long way home. Qualifying, yeah it’s totally awesome, and a great feeling to be on Pole, but that doesn’t matter on the Sunday.”

You don’t have much chance to adjust the car a lot during the race, other than tire pressures?

“We have a lot of things we can adjust. We are able to wings and anti-roll bar plus we can make some even greater changes during the race. Everybody needs to change their brakes, so at that point you are near the suspension anyway, so you can make changes there. So there’s actually a lot you can do, if you plan and practices well, you will be able to do quite big changes during the race.

“If it’s a race with a lot of accidents all the time, you would probably try to do these long pitstops when there is a Safety Car, to minimise the time loss.”

What does your weather forecast say for the race?

“Dry – for now. But it changes from day to day. Where we are in the field, and with big speed difference to the guys out in front, a bit of mixed weather could be an advantage for us – but it can go against us too. If we were the fastest and able to pull away, then you want dry weather, stable conditions to run. But if you need a miracle, then it doesn’t matter if it’s pissing down, ” he said and broke into a huge laugh.

Corvette Racing #63
Photo: JJ Media

In the qualifying yesterday, Bruni in the Porsche #91 was far ahead, and in the other end we had Aston Martin, but the midfield is so close.

“If you remove Bruni, I think it’s two seconds between 13 cars. That’s not much on 14 kilometres! And they find the time in different areas. Some are fast down the straights, and others are fast in the corners. BMW aren’t so fast on the straights, but they are immensely fast in the corners – they are fastest of all through the Porsche curves. So it will be a fight where people are fast in difference places. I think that we all will do 14 laps, so the fight will be on the track.”

This year, the things are more or less decided on the track, rather than doing a faster pitstop, due to the new pitstop rules, where you can change tires and fuel at the same time.

“Yes, the mechanics has gotten a lot more time. We just have to do driver changes in less than 30 seconds, and the mechanics all of a sudden have 30-35 seconds to chance their tires, because everything happens at one now. So the fight will be more and more on the track, and not so much in the pits.”

The second qualifying session will be run later today at 19.00 CET.

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