Corvette Racing 18-Hour Report: Morning in Le Mans
American Team Perseveres Through Problems, Corvettes Run Fifth and Sixth in GTE Pro
LE MANS, France – It was a long night and a difficult morning for Corvette Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The aftereffects of the previous issues with the No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R and two accidents required repeated visits to the garage, while the No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R also had to overcome mechanical problems. As a result, the Corvettes were fifth (No. 73) and sixth (No. 74) at dawn in Le Mans.
After 12 hours of racing, a recurring problem with the steering rack in the No. 73 Corvette required a lengthy pit stop to install a new unit. On the other side of the garage, the No.74 Corvette was virtually rebuilt as the drivetrain, uprights, diffuser, and floor were disassembled and repaired. Then in the 17th hour, the No. 74 suffered right-side body damage in an encounter with an Audi prototype and then a spin in the Porsche curves that damaged the rear bodywork, dry sump tank, air conditioning system, and suspension cradle.
The drivers and crew persevered through the adversity, and as other teams encountered their own difficulties, the Corvettes continued on at the Circuit of the Sarthe. Antonio Garcia hauled the No. 73 Corvette up from seventh to fifth by sunrise at Le Mans, while young Jordan Taylor ran sub-4:00 lap times with regularity during his triple stint at dawn. As attrition claimed more cars in the GTE Pro class, the No. 73 Corvette was within sight of a podium finish with six hours remaining.
Oliver Gavin, No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “This is a difficult one to sum up. I’m sure that everyone on the team is feeling disappointment. It’s almost like the race is unreal; you’re in a sort of trance at this point. When you’re at the front you are running on adrenaline, and when this sort of thing happens you start questioning things. The problem that we had with the car, Richard and I both thought it was a transmission problem, but it was part of the floor and diffuser. I feel sorry for the guys who had to rebuild the car around me. They’ve had a really tough night, and it’s been a tough race for everybody at Corvette Racing. When the 74 Corvette had a problem, the guys from 73 came over and helped out, and when 73 had a issue, the 74 crew was helping. It’s been all hands on deck, and that’s what is so marvelous about Corvette Racing. I’m proud to be part of this team.”
Tommy Milner, No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “Two big wrecks there. The first one, I tried to keep out of the Audi’s door; he was going quick, and I pinched the car down more than I wanted to and lost control. The second one, I really don’t know what happened – basically cold tires and I may have gotten on the curb. I wasn’t pushing, but I was a little nervous about the LMP cars. I feel bad for the guys.”
24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro at 18 Hours:
1. 51 Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander, Ferrari 458 Italia
2. 59 Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher, Ferrari 458 Italia
3. 97 Mucke/Turner/Fernandez, Aston Martin Vantage V8
4. 71 Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci, Ferrari 458 Italia
5. 73 Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor, Corvette C6.R
6. 74 Gavin/Milner/Westbrook, Corvette C6.R
7. 66 Cocker/Walker/Wills, Ferrari 458 Italia
8. 77 Lietz/Lieb/Henzler, Porsche 911 RSR
9. 80 Bergmeister/Long/Holzer, Porsche 911 RSR
Release Date: June 17, 2012