CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Dress Rehearsal Up First with Annual Test Day

May 30 2018 Randall Shinn 2018, Le Mans, Le Mans, News Comments Off on CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Dress Rehearsal Up First with Annual Test Day

CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Dress Rehearsal Up First with Annual Test Day

Pair of Corvettes set for eight hours of running ahead of 19th straight Le Mans appearance

  • Program looking toward ninth class victory at Le Mans
  • Team coming off third-place finish in GTE Pro in 2017
  • Focal point of Corvette Racing’s 20th season

DETROIT (May 30, 2018) – Corvette Racing has made its annual venture across the Atlantic to Le Mans, France – for the 19th consecutive year – ahead of this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. First up: Sunday’s Test Day at the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe for eight hours of track time ahead of the French endurance classic.

It is the only time that Corvette Racing – and the other 59 teams entered for Le Mans – will get on the track ahead of raceweek from June 13-17. It may seem like plenty of time to run through a test program, but eight hours goes by quickly on such a long track, not to mention cycling through each of the drivers during the day.

The Corvette Racing team has been diligent in its preparation for this year’s race after finishing third in the GTE Pro category in 2017. It spent two days at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin earlier this month to fine-tune and analyze setup options, as well as continue testing its race-specific Michelin tire. The spec and tire options for Le Mans – as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship – differ from what the team runs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

For this year’s race, Corvette Racing is relying on a group of six experienced drivers to battle in a 17-car GTE Pro field that is stacked with the world’s best production-based teams and manufacturers. Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller will team in the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler partnering in the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette. Five of the six drivers will be present for the Test Day with Rockenfeller having a prior commitment that will prevent his participation.

With eight victories in 18 previous Le Mans starts, Corvette Racing has long been GT racing’s prominent program in endurance racing. That is backed up by eight additional runner-up finishes in the event. All totaled, Corvette Racing has 107 victories around the world and swept the last two Manufacturer, Driver and Team championships in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) category of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship. Gavin and Milner won earlier this year at Long Beach for the team’s first victory of 2018.

Each of the six Corvette Racing drivers own exemplary records at Le Mans:

  • Antonio Garcia: Three victories in 12 appearances – 2008, 2009 and 2011; runner-up in 2014; third place in 2017
  • Jan Magnussen: Four victories in 19 appearances – 2004-06, 2009; runner-up in 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2014; third place in 2017
  • Mike Rockenfeller: Two victories in eight appearances – 2005 and 2010; third place in 2012
  • Oliver Gavin: Five victories in 17 appearances – 2002, 2004-06, 2015; runner-up in 2003; third place in 2001 and 2008
  • Tommy Milner: Two victories in nine appearances – 2011 and 2015
  • Marcel Fässler: Three victories in 12 appearances – 2011-12 and 2014

The 24 Hours of Le Mans will air live on the Velocity Channel and MotorTrend On-Demand with coverage of the Test Day, practice/qualifying and the race on RadioLeMans.com.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This race will be even more difficult this year with more brands and new cars in our category. In the end, Le Mans is long enough to work your way back if you lack just a little pace. If that’s minimal, then we can still challenge. Lacking more than that at Le Mans can be very, very painful because of the safety car rules and length of the lap. You can run your own race, but as we saw last year you really have to race your competition. Between us, the Aston Martin and one of the Fords, we all went throughout the race without a mistake in the pits or on the racetrack. With more cars than last year, it makes the odds even higher that there will be more running a trouble-free race this year. That puts a bit more pressure in the way that if you make a mistake, not just one car is going to pass you; it will be a few. For sure you need to raise your game. Every little mistake is going to cost a little bit more.”

JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We’ve had a good amount of time on the Michelin tire that we will use at Le Mans; it’s a different one that what we use in IMSA. So I think we are as prepared as we can be. We know what to expect at Le Mans, but like always we won’t know what we really have until we get on track for the Test Day. We will use that to fine-tune things and really get the last bit of things out of the car. I feel pretty good about where we are. Like every year, no one knows how we will stack up against the competition. We’ve done everything we can up to know, so we’ll see if that’s enough.”

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We got some decent driving in at Road America for our test, and at the end of things we got some good data and preparation ahead of Le Mans. You’d always like to do more because Le Mans is the one that everyone in our group puts a huge amount of emphasis on. We want to win every race we enter, but this one has a little something extra to it. You are operating at 100 percent the whole way – the drivers, the engineers, the crew, the guys setting the tire pressures, the fuelers… it’s so many people within the whole of the team that make all of this work. Everyone has to bring their A-game. Otherwise, we don’t win. There’s only one outcome that everyone wants from Le Mans: being on the top step of the podium. Anything else doesn’t really matter.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “This is our fifth year with the Corvette C7.R at Le Mans. Each year through testing and competition, the team analyzes everything they can and have a laundry list of items that we’d like to improve on for future years. Comparing how the car felt this year in testing to what we had in years past, I think we’ve made some big gains in the package as a whole. It seems like a nicer car to drive, so that’s a big positive. It’s not exactly a one-to-one transfer from testing to the race due to differing temperatures and track conditions. Building off what we learned in previous years, we feel like we’ve made a good step this year. Hopefully that transfers well to the race.”

MARCEL FÄSSLER, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “I’m happy to be back in the Corvette at Le Mans with Olly and Tommy. Hopefully the timing is right for us to challenge for the win to the end. My personal goal is to win Le Mans in this class. I was really close in 2009 with the team, and last year we had the tools to do so. We will be very prepared. We have the car, the team, the drivers, the mechanics, the engineers… everything that is needed to win Le Mans.”

DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “We are back at Le Mans for the 19th consecutive year, and I can confidently say this is the single greatest challenge Corvette Racing will face in all our years coming here. All it takes is one look at the GTE Pro entry to see why. You have multiple cars from the best teams and manufacturers in GT racing, which is a tremendous testament to the importance of this race and our category. This is where it’s at! From a competition standpoint, we have spent a lot of time and laps in testing finding every possible area where we can extract tenths and hundredths of a second. That is how close this race stands to be and how much we want to stand on top of the podium for the ninth time.”

Corvette Racing at 24 Hours of Le Mans

Year Finish Class Car Drivers
2000 3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
  4th GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/Kneifel/Bell
2001 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Pruett
  2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2002 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Gavin
  2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2003 2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Collins/Pilgrim
  3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Freon
2004 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen
  2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2005 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
  2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2006 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
  7th GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2007 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
  14th GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2008 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
  3rd GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2009 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia
  4th GT1 Corvette C6.R Gavin/Beretta/Fässler
2010 10th (DNF) GT2 Corvette C6.R Gavin/Beretta/Collard
  12th (DNF) GT2 Corvette C6.R O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia
2011 1st GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Beretta/Milner/Garcia
  14th (DNF) GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook
2012 5th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Garcia/Magnussen/J. Taylor
  6th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
2013 4th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Garcia/Magnussen/J. Taylor
  7th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
2014 2nd GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Garcia/Magnussen/J. Taylor
  4th GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
2015 DNS GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Garcia/Magnussen/Briscoe
  1st GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Gavin/Milner/J. Taylor
2016 7th GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Garcia/Magnussen/R. Taylor
  10th (DNF) GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Gavin/Milner/J. Taylor
2017 3rd GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Garcia/Magnussen/J. Taylor
  8th GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Gavin/Milner/Fässler
Totals 8 wins 18 starts