Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Historian's Point of View

Those who fail to study history are bound to repeat it.

I suppose Corvette Racing doesn’t spend much time in retroflection then.

Since 2012, Corvette Racing drivers have won the ALMS GT or IMSA GTLM championship 3 times. In 2012 and 2016, their drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin took the honors for the 4 car, and in 2013 it was Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in the number 3 who got the job done.
Last year, I joked with Tommy Milner before the first race that they were bound to win the championship. You see, there was a pattern I noticed. In 2011, Milner won the GT Class of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, then claimed the championship in 2012. In 2015, Milner, along side Gavin and Jordan Taylor, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. History was bound to repeat. And it did. Gavin and Milner had a dream season, with an incredible average finish of 3.27 during the 11-round championship. They bettered their average finish of 3.8 from 2012, when they won their first championship as a duo.

Not to be outdone by their teammates, in 2013 Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia stepped up to the plate. They beat the average finish set by the 4, establishing a 3.6 over 10 races.

2012 at Road Atlanta
So in 2012, the 4 won the championship. 2013 was the 3. 2016 was the 4 again. If history repeats, it should be the 3 in 2017, right? How about some numbers to really drive this home, and give you eerie back-of-the-neck-hair-raising stats?

In 2012, the 3 car finished 3rd in the championship with an average finish of 4.7, no wins but 5 podiums. In 2016, the 3 car finished 3rd in the championship with an average finish of 4.55, one win (VIR) and 5 podiums. They finished 2nd in the first race of the season (’12 Sebring ’16 Daytona), 2nd at Lime Rock and 6th at Road America both years.

In 2012, the 4 car won the championship by attaining 4 wins (Long Beach, Laguna Sega, Mid-Ohio, and VIR) and 7 podiums with no DNFs. In 2016, the 4 car again placed first in the championship with 4 wins (Daytona, Sebring, Lime Rock, and Road America) and 7 podiums, with one DNF (VIR). The drivers stood on the podium for all 3 of the first rounds of the championship both years as well.

2016 Champion, covered with the dirt from a 3rd place finish at Petit Le Mans.
Starting to see a pattern?

Now for the 3 car up-shift. In 2013, that car earned end of season honors with 3 wins (Laguna Seca, Baltimore, and CotA) , 6 podiums and one DNF (Sebring). That same year, the 4 finished 3rd in points, 2 wins (Sebring and Mosport), 4 podium visits and 1 DNF (CotA).

This year, the 3 has been mirroring 2013. They lead the points, 3 wins to date (Sebring, CotA, and VIR) with 4 podiums. Thus, if we are to match the numbers, the 3 will be on the podium for both of the final rounds of the 2017 season. The average finish for the 3 is, quite incredibly, 3.

Jordan Taylor in the pits at Le Mans 2017, driving the car that bears the number 3 in IMSA.

For the 4 crew, this hasn’t been the mirror of the 2013 season. Whereas they finished 3rd in points that year, it’d take a small miracle for that to happen in 2017. Their average finish is 6.56, with 1 win (Long Beach) and that was also their only trip to the podium this year. They’ve had 2 DNFs, as opposed to the 3’s flawless record.
Another bit of potential foreshadowing: in 2013, Dirk Mueller finished 2nd in GT points. He could very well, alongside Joey Hand, finish 2nd in points again this year.

So what does all this mean? Well, honestly nothing. Logic has no place in racing, and if you followed along with my IHG Podium Predictor 0 of 8 score, should rarely does.

Our 2014 champion in GT was Kuno Wittmer with SRT, a factory program introduced mid way through the 2012 championship. While we didn’t have a program start up half way through this season, I might just look a bit closer at Risi for next year, who only ran a half-season this year.  Then maybe another Porsche champion in 2019 to mirror the result of 2015 champion Patrick Pilet, and then money’s on the 4 to start this whole crazy cycle up again in 2020.

The numbers all add up for me. Maybe I’m just crazy.

But I do study history.

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