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Magnussen, O'Connell relishing Long Beach return

1 January 1901

Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell are eager to put prior experience of tricky street circuits to good use when the American Le Mans Series makes its trip to the streets of California and the Long Beach circuit.

The shortest track the field will race at, the tight and twisty circuit will make its debut on the ALMS calendar this year, but while many drivers will go there to embark on a weekend of learning, both Magnussen and O'Connell will merely have to dust the cobwebs off their memories to get by.

Indeed, Magnussen raced at Long Beach recently thanks to his Grand-Am commitments and he admits it is a circuit he enjoys greatly.

"All in all, Long Beach is a great setting for a race and it's good for the ALMS to race there," the Dane said. "I've raced a Daytona Prototype there previously, and the track is much like the street circuit in St. Petersburg in terms of how the track is crowned. One corner that's unique to Long Beach is the very tight hairpin at Turn 11. It's a place where you just don't try to pass, and you hope that nobody else tries to pass you."

O'Connell meanwhile will have to delve further into the recesses of his memory to remember the last time he raced at Long Beach, that being when he was an up and coming driver through the open-wheel ranks.

"I've driven a little bit of everything at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, but the course has changed quite a lot since I last raced there so it will take some time to get familiar with the layout," said O'Connell. "We'll have to get up to speed quickly because practice time is very limited, but we have such an amazing engineering staff at Corvette Racing that all I have to do is focus on my driving.

"The most important part of Corvette Racing's program is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so while we approach these street races as good preparation for Le Mans, we don't want to bang up our race cars. It forces us to be very precise and drive with good technique. Racing in Long Beach is a great opportunity for all of the Corvette owners in Southern California to see the Corvette C6.Rs in action."


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