CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Ready for Another Classic

Jun 08 2015 admin News Comments Off on CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Ready for Another Classic

Drivers, crew, engineers focused on earning eighth class win since 2001
•Garcia, Magnussen, Briscoe going for endurance “Triple Crown”
•No. 64 Corvette of Gavin, Milner, Taylor second in class during Test Day
•Second race at Le Mans for Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

LE MANS, France – Corvette Racing’s chance to write another chapter in sports car racing history is here. For the 16th consecutive season, Corvette Racing has its sights set on the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a two-car effort against the toughest competition in GT racing.

Six drivers, two cars and a brace of crew members and engineers have their sights firmly set on delivering an eighth class victory in the 83rd running of the French endurance race. For the fifth season, Corvette Racing will compete in the GTE Pro class alongside other top-flight manufacturers and teams. Contested on an 8.5-mile circuit that is a mix of public roads and a purpose-built race course, Le Mans is the focal point on sports car racing’s global stage. It’s famous for its mix of long straights and high-speed corners. The world’s best marques have triumphed at Le Mans, and Chevrolet is well-placed among them.

For Corvette Racing, this year’s Le Mans is a chance at history. The team already has won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring to open the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It’s the first time that Corvette Racing has won both events in the same season.

The No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe claimed victories at Daytona and Sebring. A victory at Le Mans would make them the first trio since 2000 to win all three during the same season in the sport’s premier production-based class. The trio was ninth in class during the Le Mans Test Day on May 31 with a best lap of 4:00.549 (126.760 mph). A pair of four-hour sessions was marked by mostly wet conditions with a small period of dry running.

Garcia and Magnussen lead the TUDOR Championship’s GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, as does the No. 3 Corvette Racing in the team standings. Magnussen is a four-time class winner at Le Mans – each victory came with Corvette Racing – while Garcia has won the race three times. They finished second in 2014.

Meanwhile, Briscoe returns to Le Mans for the first time since 2013 when he drove a prototype machine. He arrives after competing Saturday in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Gavin clocked the second-fastest GTE Pro time during the Test Day with a lap of 3:58.162 (128.003 mph) in the No. 64 Corvette. He also is a four-time winner at Le Mans with Corvette Racing, having first claimed victory in 2002. Full-season TUDOR Championship teammate Tommy Milner won the race for the first time in 2011. The duo opened the season with a third-place class finish in the Rolex 24 At Daytona where Gavin was the GTLM pole-winner.

Taylor moves from sharing a seat with Garcia and Magnussen – the 2014 runner-up finish was the highest at Le Mans for Taylor – and now partners Gavin and Milner. The move has proven beneficial with both pairings featuring three drivers of nearly equal stature. Taylor was part of the winning lineup for the TUDOR Championship’s race at Long Beach in the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette Daytona Prototype and was the Prototype pole-winner at Laguna Seca.

The 83rd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is set for 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 13. The FOX Sports family of channels will air the race with live coverage of practice, qualifying and the race on radiolemans.com.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 63 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Winning Le Mans in addition to Daytona and Sebring would be really special. I’m really proud to be part of those winning teams at Daytona and Sebring. But what’s done is done. I’m starting to miss that feeling about Le Mans. The last time we won there was 2011. There will be points where everything goes according to plan and others where they don’t. We to react and use our experience to rebound from those and go in the right direction.”

(This year’s outlook) “Since we left Le Mans last year, we’ve done basically a full season of racing in the U.S. We will go back through and analyze our weak points and see what needs to improve. Corvette Racing has done a really decent job of that over the years. With the C7.R, we’ve seemed to improve from the first year everywhere we’ve gone. Hopefully that’s the case too at Le Mans. We missed winning last year by one position. We had the pace to win, and hopefully this year we keep heading in that direction.”

JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 63 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Daytona and Sebring were fantastic results. It shows that as a team we work really well together. We go to Le Mans – and every race – to try and win the race. We know we can win it if we don’t get ourselves into trouble. We’ve had great success at Le Mans in previous years. Hopefully we can go there, make those things happen, stay out of trouble, be smart and be fast. I feel good about our chances.

(Running in low-downforce) “Top speed is so important at Le Mans because we have so many long straights that the time gained racing at top speed is significant enough that we do compromise the handling of the car. The low-downforce kit prevents you from being as aggressive in some of the higher-speed corners as you would in a setup for the U.S., for example. This test at Bowling Green was where we tried some of that stuff out and made really good headway to achieve balance on low-downforce.”

RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 63 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It would be absolutely phenomenal to win the three biggest races we have on the calendar. It definitely registers. Does it change our outlook for Le Mans? I don’t know if it does, but it doesn’t hurt that we’ve already won the two biggest ones leading up to it and that we have that confidence going in. Sometimes momentum is a real thing, and we have confidence in our mechanics, our engineers and ourselves. That all helps us going to Le Mans.”

(First impressions of Le Mans) “The schedule stood out to me as being unique. You can basically stay on U.S. time and function perfectly well. Even during race week, you’re in bed at 2 in the morning don’t need to wake up until late morning. That was unique and something to be prepared for so you don’t run out of steam. The weather in the race also stood out. I hadn’t watched too many races at Le Mans, but the first time I drove it rained the first four hours on one part of the track and it was dry in another. You have to be heads up on the weather, for sure. It can make a huge difference in the race depending on what is falling, how hard and where.”

OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “A lot of people in the team would look at winning Le Mans as winning the season. That’s the level and prestige of the Le Mans 24 Hours. You spend your whole year based around it. Of course there’s many good races and many big races afterward in the U.S. But nothing else comes close to Le Mans in terms of stature. Daytona and Sebring are great races in their own right, and it’s great that the team has won those already this year. Winning Le Mans to go along with those two would make the perfect season.”

(Returning to Le Mans) “I look forward to it every time. It’s a circuit that gives you a great thrill to drive around. You think about the teams and the drivers and cars that have raced there, it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. But it’s also a track that requires a great deal of respect. It’s about understanding the points where you can and can’t be aggressive. You know each year that it’s a real test of man and machine, and of a team of people. For you to achieve victory there, everyone has to deliver and execute throughout that weekend. There can be so many turning points in the race, and that’s why it’s so hard to win. You have to have all these variables lined up and a slice of luck to win.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “The first thing I remember about Le Mans is the first time coming out of Tetre Rouge and headed down the Mulsanne to the first chicane. You’re on throttle for so long and you’re incredibly fast. It was an eye-opening experience. Another thing that blew me away was the drivers’ parade – how many people were there and how important the entire event is on a global scale for sports car racing. They are two completely distinct aspects but both are iconic reasons why the race is so special.”

(To win Le Mans) “A win at Le Mans definitely makes things a lot better. Right now, we’ve been pushing hard to get good results no matter the race. In general, the outlook we have in our car is that we’re making the right steps in the right direction. We had a clean race at Laguna Seca – the result wasn’t what we wanted – but we were all pleased that we didn’t have any problems and the weekend went smooth. It might be a small victory but that’s how the sport is now and how our class is. You have to fire on all cylinders to have a chance to win.”

JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 64 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Le Mans is so unique. There is no other track or race in the world to prepare for it. I feel overall I’m a lot more comfortable going back for my fourth year. Every year has been better. There are still so many variables and different things that can happen. There are always changing conditions. You never know what to expect at Le Mans, so you have to be on your toes. At the same time, each year you gain more experience and feel confident that you can control those variables to the best of your abilities.”

(Moving to the No. 64 Corvette) “There are small driving style differences between the two cars. As the third driver, your job is to adjust to what those guys like. The team isn’t going to set the car up for you. They just want you to be comfortable enough to hand the car back to the regulars in a good place and not lose time. Guys like Olly and Tommy have been in the car for a number of years and know what makes it go fast. So I have to adjust to that and learn from them on what style it takes to get the most out of it.”

DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “Between our test at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park and the Le Mans Test Day, I feel like we’re in a positive position heading into our 16th consecutive Le Mans event. Success at Le Mans comes down to 25 percent having a great car, 25 percent having great team and 50 percent good fortune. We’ve experienced plenty of all three over the years. Certainly showing as well as we did at Daytona and Sebring is a confidence booster, and the Corvette C7.R has proven that it’s fast and reliable. Those key ingredients, plus the quality of our drivers and team, give us reason to be optimistic in what should be another massive fight in GTE Pro.”

Le Mans 24 Hours (times in Central European and Eastern Daylight)
•Practice/qualifying:
4-8 p.m. (practice), 10 p.m.-midnight CET (qualifying), Wednesday, June 10
10 a.m.-2 p.m. (practice), 4-6 p.m. ET (qualifying)
•Qualifying:
7-9 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight CET, Thursday, June 11
1-3 p.m., 4-6 p.m. ET
•Warm-up:
9-9:45 a.m. CET, Saturday, June 13
3-3:45 a.m. ET
•Race:
3 p.m. Saturday-3 p.m. CET, Sunday, June 14
9 a.m. Saturday-9 a.m. ET, Sunday

Le Mans: Watch It!
(Saturday, June 13-Sunday, June 14 – all times ET) •8:30 a.m. Saturday-9:30 a.m. Sunday (FOX Sports GO)
•8:30 a.m.-noon, Saturday (FOX Sports 2)
•7-8 p.m., Saturday (FOX Sports 1)
•11 p.m., Saturday-12:30 a.m. Sunday (FOX Sports 2)
•3:30-7:30 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 1)
•7:30-9 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 2)
•9-9:30 a.m., Sunday (FOX Sports 1)

Corvette Racing 24 Hours of Le Mans Record

Year Finish Class Car Drivers
2000 3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
4th GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/Kneifel/Bell
2001 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Pruett
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2002 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Gavin
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Pilgrim/Collins/Freon
2003 2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Collins/Pilgrim
3rd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Freon
2004 1st GTS Corvette C5-R Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen
2nd GTS Corvette C5-R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2005 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2006 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Magnussen
7th GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Papis
2007 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
14th GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2008 2nd GT1 Corvette C6.R Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen
3rd GT1 Corvette C6.R Beretta/Gavin/Papis
2009 1st GT1 Corvette C6.R O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia
4th GT1 Corvette C6.R Gavin/Beretta/Fassler
2010 10th (DNF) GT2 Corvette C6.R Gavin/Beretta/Collard
12th (DNF) GT2 Corvette C6.R O’Connell/Magnussen/Garcia
2011 1st GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Beretta/Milner/Garcia
14th (DNF) GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook
2012 5th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor
6th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
2013 4th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor
7th GTE Pro Corvette C6.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
2014 2nd GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor
4th GTE Pro Corvette C7.R Gavin/Milner/Westbrook
Totals 7 wins 15 starts

Release Date: June 8, 2015