Corvette Racing Completes Trouble-Free Test at Le Mans
Corvette C6.Rs Third and Fourth Fastest in Eight-Hour Test Session
LE MANS, France – It was only a test, but Corvette Racing’s twin Corvette C6.R race cars passed with flying colors as the two Corvettes had a day of trouble-free testing on the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans. Today’s eight-hour session was the only opportunity for teams to test on the 8.5-mile course before the start of official practice and qualifying on June 14.
The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen ran a fast lap of 3:53.029, placing it third among the 12 GT1 entries. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Johnny O’Connell, Ron Fellows and Max Papis completed the 13.6-kilometer circuit in 3:53.174, placing it fourth on the GT1 speed chart. The No. 63 Corvette ran a total of 91 laps and its sister car completed 83 laps. Neither car had any significant issues as the team evaluated tires, shock absorbers and aerodynamic settings. The independent Corvette C5-R of Policand/Goueslard/Alphand was fifth fastest at 3:54.113.
“I couldn’t have asked for the test to be any better,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We had perfect weather and enjoyed a virtually trouble-free day. The two Corvette C6.Rs completed a total of 174 laps, the most among the two-car GT1 teams, and we have a huge amount of data to analyze.”
“Lap times were very good, the dramatic improvement over last year that we were looking for,” Fehan continued. “They were a close match to what the computer simulations suggested, further validating our software. We hit all of the goals we intended to accomplish.”
Corvette Racing is aiming for a fifth class victory in six years in the classic 24-hour endurance race.
“In all of the years I’ve been coming to Le Mans with Corvette Racing, this is the best we’ve ever done in the open test,” said Johnny O’Connell, a three-time class winner at Le Mans. “We’ve had amazing success since 2001, winning four times, but we’ve always struggled in pre-qualifying. This time we found some things and started moving in the right direction. Right now we have two cars that are probably the best we’ve ever had on a test day. We’re feeling very positive.”
Oliver Gavin shared O’Connell’s optimism: “It went very well,” he commented. “We ran through a series of changes, and every time I got in the car it was better. The tires were working well and engine performance was strong today. I think we found a good tire for the race; Jan and Olivier both worked hard on that. We’re looking really good for the race in terms of the speed of the car and its driveability.”
“I am very happy with how the day went,” said Olivier Beretta. “We did a test of the front tires and as always Michelin has brought good stuff. I am very happy with the car, the engineers have done their homework, and we came here with a good package. I am very comfortable with the handling of the car. The whole day went according to schedule without any problems.”
Ron Fellows was also pleased with the continuous improvement of the Corvette race cars.
“There’s no question that we’re farther along on the learning curve this year,” said the Canadian. “If you look at the lap times, that’s certainly the case. We found the cars to be very well balanced at Sebring, and they’re much the same here. We certainly have a better C6.R than we had last year.
Max Papis agreed: “We focused a lot on the race pace and found a great improvement in the handling of the car compared to last year. I’m very pleased about the race setup. We were very consistent and right where we wanted to be.”
Jan Magnussen was delighted to get back in a Corvette C6.R after previous victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Petit Le Mans, and the Sebring 12-hour endurance race.
“This was my first time in the car since Sebring so it was good to get the feeling again,” said Magnussen. “The car has been improved quite a bit since the last time I drove it.”
“Today we accomplished everything we planned to do, so all we need to do next week in qualifying is improve on the details,” he explained. “As usual we didn’t use any sticky qualifying tires today. I’ll fly back to Denmark as I have a race for the Danish Touring Car Championship next weekend and then I’ll come straight back here, hoping we can repeat last year’s result.”
Today’s session was a prelude to two days of qualifying on June 14-15 and the 24-hour race on June 17-18.
“Keep in mind that everything we do and every minute we spend is to accomplish one goal – to get the very best race car and not necessarily to set the fastest lap time,” Fehan advised. “We’re very close to that now, and with two more days I think we’re going to get it better. I’m really pleased, and I know we’re competitive.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 5 p.m. local time on Saturday, June 17 and finishes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 18. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel in North America and in Europe on MotorsTV. Live radio coverage will be available at www.radiolemans.com.
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Test Times:
1. (007) Enge/Turner/Piccini, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:51.408
2. (009) Sarrazin/Lamy/Ortelli, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.664
3. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 3:53.029
4. (63) Fellows/O’Connell/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 3:53.174
5. (72) Policand/Goueslard/Alphand, Corvette C5-R, 3:54.113
6. (69) Babini/Gollin/Pescatori, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:54.507
7. (67) Pergl/Kox/Vasiliev, Ferrari 550 Maranello, 3:55.316
8. (66) Mowlem/Borcheller/Fittipaldi, Saleen S7R, 3:56.695
9. (50) Gardel/Bornhauser/Blanchemain, Ferrari 550 Maranello, 3:58.563
10. (62) Piquet Jr./Garcia/Brabham, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:58.935
11. (53) Apicella/Hinoi/Yamanishi, Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT, 3:59.108
12. (61) Sugden/Vann/Smith, Ferrari 550 Maranello, 4:04.706
Release Date: June 4, 2006