CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Halfway Report

Jun 16 2019 Randall Shinn 2019, Le Mans, Le Mans, News Comments Off on CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Halfway Report

CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Halfway Report

No. 63 Corvette still in the fight following No. 64 C7.R retirement

LE MANS, France (June 16, 2019) – Corvette Racing reached half distance of its 20th appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans early Sunday with one of its Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs firmly entrenched in the battle for GTE Pro honors.

The No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller ran fifth at the 12-hour mark with Rockenfeller just finishing a double-stint. The practice of having the three drivers stay in the car for two fuel stops at a time was the prevailing strategy for Corvette Racing, which is shooting for its ninth Le Mans class victory.

Unfortunately, the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C7.R isn’t part of the fight following a heavy crash for Marcel Fässler near the six-hour mark. The incident happened in the lightning quick Porsche Curves toward the end of the lap. Fässler – driving with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner – was hit from behind after making a pass on a slower car with the impact sending the Corvette hard into the wall on driver’s right.

The damage was too extensive to repair, and Corvette Racing was forced to retire the car. Fässler was evaluated at the track medical center and was sent to a local hospital for a CT scan, which came back negative.

Early in the race, the No. 63 Corvette led early and often. Garcia began the race from the third position but needed less than 20 minutes to move to the point in a frantic start.

All three drivers of the No. 63 Corvette took turns in the lead early. The first safety car period of the race during the sixth hour brought the top nine GTE Pro entries to within 15 seconds of each other at the six-hour mark. Another safety car near the 10 hours running split the two lead cars from the rest of the GTE Pro field, effectively taking what had been a nine-car battle down to two with the Corvette part of the second group.

The No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette was up and down the order early with Gavin climbing from 11tth at the start to fourth in class during his opening two stints. Debris on his tires made it challenging for him to maintain his early pace but he and Milner had relatively calm stints before handing over to Fässler, who was matching the pace of his teammates before the incident.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: "There was a lot of uncertainty at the start. We were all looking at each other not knowing who would be fast and who would be slow. So we did like we did in qualifying and just settled in. Everybody seemed to be on a good pace and obviously our car felt pretty good. In the draft I was kind of following everybody but I think I feel more secure and better for myself when I’m running in a higher position rather than depend on the others. I could have stayed behind, but I decided to go ahead and see if I could stay because with the amount of slipstreams you have here it’s easy for the others to overtake you again even if they don’t have the pace. There is no better place to stay than P1!"

JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: "The first stint was good, keeping the same distance to the Porsche and opening the gap a bit towards the end, which was nice. The second stint was a little bit more of a handful on the tires. The car started moving around a bit. I think the track isn’t quite ready yet for double-stinting the tires, but we have to do it. I thought we were going to lose everything when I had to come in (early for an emergency five seconds of fuel) under the full-course yellow when the pitlane was closed, but fortunately everybody else was pretty much in the same boat so we didn’t lose anything."

MIKE ROCKENFELLER, NO. 63 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: "Like last year, unfortunately these safety car rules tear the field apart, which is a shame but the race is not over. Let’s see. Maybe we will get lucky and catch the better safety car next time and the field will be bunched up together because it was a good fight when we were all together. Let’s see where we will end up in the morning. It feels like since it has cooled down or the track has rubbered in that the car is running better and better. This is good, but we just need some luck to come to us."

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: "It was a very interesting first couple of stints. We bounced up and down the order among pretty much all the manufacturers. There definitely were some moves early on there. We were on the move a lot of the time. But it was aggressive… very aggressive. It was very intense racing. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking we have a lot of racing to be done but it was pretty wild now thinking about it. Toward the middle of the second stint, I ran wide a little bit near the end of the lap and got a bunch of junk on the tires. I just couldn’t cleaned up for a bit. It was amazing how many stops I dropped just through that one little thing. That shows the fine line in this category."

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: "My stints were pretty relaxed. There was some fighting ahead of me during my second stint, but generally those guys were not going crazy. In the first stint, I struggled with understeer but my pace was decent. On the second stint, we decided to double-stint the tires, which was a bit of a struggle. I think we were heading toward a good balance in the car and would have been in good shape."

Corvette Racing at Le Mans (Wins in bold)

2000
No. 63 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/Justin Bell – 4th in GTS
No. 64 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 3rd in GTS

2001
No. 63 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Scott Pruett – 1st in GTS
No. 64 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 2nd in GTS

2002
No. 63 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Oliver Gavin – 1st in GTS
No. 64 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 2nd in GTS

2003
No. 53 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Franck Freon – 3rd in GTS
No. 50 Corvette C5-R: Oliver Gavin/Kelly Collins/Andy Pilgrim – 2nd in GTS

2004
No. 63 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Max Papis – 2nd in GTS
No. 64 Corvette C5-R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen – 1st in GTS

2005
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Max Papis – 2nd in GT1
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen – 1st in GT1

2006
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Max Papis – 7th in GT1
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen – 1st in GT1

2007
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Jan Magnussen – 2nd in GT1
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Max Papis – 14th in GT1

2008
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O’Connell/Jan Magnussen – 2nd in GT1
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Max Papis – 3rd in GT1

2009
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Jan Magnussen/Johnny O’Connell/Antonio Garcia – 1st in GT1
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Marcel Fässler – 4th in GT1

2010
No. 63 Corvette C6.R: Jan Magnussen/Johnny O’Connell/Antonio Garcia – 12th in GT2 (DNF)
No. 64 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Oliver Gavin/Emmanuel Collard – 10th in GT2 (DNF)

2011
No. 73 Corvette C6.R: Olivier Beretta/Tommy Milner/Antonio Garcia – 1st in GTE Pro
No. 74 Corvette C6.R: Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen/Richard Westbrook – 14th in GTE Pro (DNF)

2012
No. 73 Corvette C6.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 5th in GTE Pro
No. 74 Corvette C6.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Richard Westbrook – 6th in GTE Pro

2013
No. 73 Corvette C6.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 4th in GTE Pro
No. 74 Corvette C6.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Richard Westbrook – 7th in GTE Pro

2014
No. 73 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 2nd in GTE Pro
No. 74 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Richard Westbrook – 4th in GTE Pro

2015
No. 63 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Ryan Briscoe – DNS (Qualifying crash)
No. 64 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Jordan Taylor – 1st in GTE Pro

2016
No. 63 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Ricky Taylor – 7th in GTE Pro
No. 64 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Jordan Taylor – 10th in GTE Pro (DNF)

2017
No. 63 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 3rd in GTE Pro
No. 64 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 8th in GTLM

2018
No. 63 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Mike Rockenfeller – 4th in GTE Pro
No. 64 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 15th in GTE Pro (DNF)