24 Hours of Le Mans to Showcase Corvette’s Past and Future
Corvette’s Milestone 50th Anniversary at Le Mans Opens New Chapter for Corvette Racing in GT2 Category
LE MANS, France – This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans marks the 50th anniversary of Corvette’s first participation in the world’s most celebrated sports car race. It also signals the start of a new chapter in Corvette Racing history with the Le Mans debut of the second-generation Corvette C6.R in the fiercely contested GT2 category. After six victories in the GTS/GT1 division over the last nine years, Corvette Racing has moved to the GT2 division, taking on teams representing Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Jaguar and Aston Martin in the 24-hour classic on June 12-13.
Fifty years after the thunder of a Chevy V-8 engine first roared at Le Mans, this year’s event brings together Corvettes of the past and the future. Corvette’s racing history is represented by Briggs Cunningham’s No. 3 Corvette that finished first in the large displacement GT category and eighth overall at Le Mans in 1960. The new-generation Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars represent Corvette’s future in the GT2 class.
John Fitch, who co-drove Cunningham’s No. 3 Corvette with Bob Grossman at Le Mans in 1960, will attend the race with Lance Miller, the current owner of the historic Corvette race car. Wearing traditional American white and blue racing colors, the immaculately restored Corvette will participate in a parade through downtown Le Mans on Friday and lead a ceremonial lap of Corvettes before the start of the race on Saturday.
“When you look at the Corvettes that raced at Le Mans 50 years ago, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the passion, the immense courage, and the physical stamina that was required to race for 24 hours in those vehicles,” said Corvette Racing program Doug Fehan. “It was an astounding feat, and the men who drove them have my respect. Regardless of what Corvette Racing may have accomplished in the past or what we may accomplish in the future, we will always work in the shadow of these racers.”
Driver Johnny O’Connell enjoyed the rare opportunity to drive the No. 3 1960 Corvette during a photo shoot at Le Mans. “The race cars and technology have changed greatly over the years, but Chevrolet’s approach to racing has been consistent,” O’Connell said. “The Corvettes that raced at Le Mans in 1960 were very nearly stock vehicles, and to this day, Corvette Racing is still a tool to improve the breed. The relationship that the race team has with the production engineers definitely benefits Chevrolet customers.”
While Corvette Racing honors its heritage at Le Mans, the team’s focus is on success in the upcoming twice-around-the-clock race. Corvette Racing’s six drivers have a total of 20 class victories at Le Mans in 66 starts. O’Connell became the first American driver to score four class wins at Le Mans when he and teammates Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia won the GT1 title last year.
“Le Mans will be the hardest competition we have ever faced with the GT2 Corvette,” said Magnussen, who will again share the No. 63 Corvette C6.R with O’Connell and Garcia. “We are well prepared and everything we’ve done with the new car has been targeted at Le Mans. We’ll do what we’ve done every year: push hard all the time with only one goal – to win!”
Oliver Gavin agreed: “Le Mans is going to be an extremely competitive race this year, and we know we will have our work cut out for us,” said the Briton, who will be teamed with Olivier Beretta and Emmanuel Collard in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R. “I know that we will have the tools, the car and the team behind us to fight for a win.”
Corvette Racing’s next event is the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans in Le Mans, France. The race will start at 3:00 p.m. CET on Saturday, June 12. SPEED will televise the start of the race live from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET on June 12, and continue coverage from 6:00 p.m. to the race finish at 9:30 a.m. ET on June 13. Streaming video can be viewed on www.speed.com from 12:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET on June 12, and flag-to-flag audio coverage will be available on www.radiolemans.com.
Release Date: June 8, 2010