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Corvette Racing driver Jan Magnussen almost saw the top of the podium during the American Le Mans Series finale at Laguna Seca, but instead he saw the track-side hospital. Magnussen, driving the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R spent the last several laps of the race battling alonside Jörg Bergmeister in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, before crashing into the wall just feet from the finish line, allowing the Porsche to finish first just 1.037 seconds ahead. (Skip ahead to the 1:52 mark for the best action).
Magnussen even took the lead several in the second last lap, but had to give the position back as it was determined (quite obviously) that he had passed over the pit-exit line to do so.
“I’m definitely sorry Jan went into the wall,” Bergmeister said. “I didn’t want that to happen. But it was a banging game. I’m glad he’s OK. It was tough racing. The Corvette passed me the first time at the hairpin but he went in way too deep and I was able to get back around him. He was a little quicker I have to say. I wasn’t trying to figure out where he was gaining time on me. I was trying to stay on track and in front.”
Magnussen recalls the incident slightly differently. “I didn’t think I even had a chance after I had to give the position back,” he said. “Going into the last corner I was too far away to make a proper attack, but Joerg parked the car. I didn’t see that, so I slid up and hit him a little – he went sideways and I managed to get on the inside. It was a drag race up the hill, and I managed to get ahead of him. Then he turned me into the wall, and he kept turning in. Then I spun around the nose of his car.”
Corvette Racing is looking into the incident but it’s hard to point fingers as there was a lot of bumping going on in the final laps of the race. “It’s unfortunate it ended the way it did. I think we’re going to review the videotapes and see what we can do to ascertain what went wrong there,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “I’m sure we’ll be working with the sanctioning body to address it and put into place safeguards to make sure incidents like this won’t happen again.”
Still, Fehan had to admit that, “Those last six laps were as exciting as I’ve seen in motor racing in a long time – two great teams, two great cars, two great drivers.”
The podium spot is the fifth consecutive podium for Corvette Racing in as many races, since the team joined the GT2 class.