Corvette Leads GTS Class After Four Hours at The 24 Hours of Le Mans

Jun 13 2004 admin News Comments Off on Corvette Leads GTS Class After Four Hours at The 24 Hours of Le Mans

#64 C5-R running up front while #63 C5-R catches up

LE MANS, France – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team is currently in the top position in the GTS class, running an impressive seventh overall on the 47-car grid. The #64 Corvette C5-R of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen holds the top position in class after running consistently fast lap times and turning quick pit stops. The #63 Corvette C5-R is running in seventh position in class and climbing after an early incident in the second hour of the race put the team back some 20 minutes.

The race started with a tight battle in the GTS class. The top five cars, two Corvettes and three Ferraris, ran nose to tail, all within a second of each other. After sound pit stop strategy brought the #63 Corvette in for fuel, Ron Fellows stayed in the car and took the lead when the other cars went in the pits. The #64 crew did a remarkable job to get Gavin back out on the track in front of the Ferraris, and the Corvettes ran 1-2 until Fellows left the course at Arnage corner just shortly into his second driving stint. The #63 car sustained body damage to the front fascia and was brought back to the pits, where the team lost roughly five laps to the lead cars while attempting to remove the bodywork. No damage was inflicted to the radiator, and Johnny O’Connell entered the car and immediately started the #63 team’s climb back up the charts.

“The front of the car does not feel as precise due to the accident but the crew did a great job to get the car fixed and back on track,” said O’Connell.”I would have liked to have been a bit more aggressive during my stint, but being down a few laps I did not want to take many risks. The engine and gearbox are working fine and I’m glad we got this problem out of the way in the beginning of the race.”

While the #63 Corvette made back time, the #64 continued to run quick laps and opened a lead in front of the Ferraris.

“After the boys did a great job in the pits, I was able to put a bit of a lead on the Ferraris and stabilize that at around nine seconds,” said Gavin. “I encountered a lot of traffic nearly every lap in or around the Mulsanne chicanes, which cost us some critical time on entry and exit speed. Still, we’re doing fine and Olivier and Jan are doing a great job in the car.”

#64 Corvette car chief, Ray Gongla, confirmed the Briton’s words about the car’s performance during these warm evening hours.

“The car is performing very well and the tire performance has been excellent,” said Gongla. “We have been conserving fuel, which has allowed us to do some quick pit stops. As the track cools with the sun going down, we might use a softer tire compound to complement the temperature changes.”

Positions at 4 Hours – Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class
Pos. No. Car Fastest Lap Laps Completed
1 64 Corvette C5-R 3:54.093 59
2 66 Ferrari 550 M 3:53.327 58
3 65 Ferrari 550 M 3:53.956 58
4 69 Ferrari 550 M 3:54.793 56
5 62 Ferrari 575 GTC 4:02.466 56
6 61 Ferrari 575 GTC 4:04.254 55
7 63 Corvette C5-R 3:54.797 54