CORVETTE RACING AT LE MANS: Test Day Sets the Stage for 24 Hours
Both Corvette C7.Rs ready for Le Mans dress rehearsal
•Eight hours of track time on 8.3-mile Circuit de la Sarthe
•Corvette Racing with seven class victories at Le Mans
•Official test day follows two days of running at National Corvette Museum track
DETROIT – With victories in two of sports car racing’s biggest events already in 2015, Corvette Racing turns its focus across the Atlantic Ocean for the focal point of the season. The 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans again sees two entries from Corvette Racing competing in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race on June 13-14. It will be the second time at Le Mans for the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
The countdown to Le Mans officially begins Sunday with eight hours of testing. It is the only time cars will run on the full 8.5-mile circuit – made up of public roads and purpose-built race track – ahead of the first practice and qualifying sessions June 11.
Between the impending Test Day and the most recent round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship at Laguna Seca, both Corvettes and all six drivers tested at the National Corvette Museum’s Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Ky.
Full-season Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner are set for Le Mans, as are endurance drivers Ryan Briscoe and Jordan Taylor in the GTE Pro class. The group will try to lead Corvette Racing to its eighth victory at Le Mans since 2001 and has a combined 13 wins there – 11 with Corvette Racing.
Garcia, Magnussen and Briscoe reunite in the No. 63 Corvette C7.R, having already won in class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. They can become the first trio to win in the premier production-based class at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans since 2000. The two victories in Florida vaulted Garcia and Magnussen – the 2013 American Le Mans Series GT champions – into the lead of this year’s TUDOR Championship in GT Le Mans (GTLM).
Garcia and Magnussen were second in GTE Pro at Le Mans last year with Taylor. The latter has moved to the No. 64 Corvette C7.R with Gavin and Milner. Gavin and Milner were third at Daytona and won the 2012 ALMS GT title together. Milner and Taylor also already have raced together for Corvette Racing as part of an all-American lineup for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s round last year at Circuit of The Americas.
The two days at the Corvette museum allowed the drivers to reacquaint themselves with the low-drag aerodynamic setup for Le Mans – necessary due to the track’s long straights – and a new tire compound from technical partner Michelin that was designed specifically for Le Mans.
The Le Mans Test Day starts at 9 a.m. CET/3 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 31. The 83rd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is set for 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 13.
ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Testing makes us almost reset everything we’ve been doing for here in America to focusing completely toward Le Mans. It’s always good to have testing where you can cast aside ideas that don’t work. Yes you have a full day of testing at Le Mans and many hours of practice, the lap is so long and you have three drivers to cycle through. At the end, there is not much time to improve the car. The track we will find on Test Day will be completely different than what we will find Saturday at the start of the race and especially Sunday morning after 18 hours. Le Mans never stops changing and never stops forcing you to improve. That’s what you need to work with – try to be ahead of the game as much as possible and be prepared.”
JAN MAGNUSSEN, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We won’t know what we really got out of the testing until we get to Le Mans we can try some of the things we ran through to see how it translates well to what works on that circuit. It certainly felt good. We don’t have any indications that it won’t work at Le Mans. It was a short lap – less than a minute. So you get a lot through a lot of stuff. I have a good feeling about the race this year. Last year it turned into a bit of a problem due to a failure on the air jack system that we hadn’t had before and haven’t had since. It was a silly failure that we think cost us the race. We’re in a good place as a team this year.”
RYAN BRISCOE, NO. 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “We had a very productive test in working through the new Michelin tire. Honestly, the car felt good. It didn’t feel bad at all. The track we were running was pretty grippy. Probably once we get to Le Mans, the car will feel like there is less grip than what we had at the Bowling Green test. We need to be ready for that. The car was behaving well. I felt like we had good aero balance, and everything felt the way it should. It was all very smooth and felt really good. The biggest thing was probably working with the tire from a team perspective. For me, it was about pounding around, making setup changes and see what they would do to the balance of the car. Hopefully these all carry over once we get to Le Mans.”
OLIVER GAVIN, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Le Mans is so unique because you don’t run anywhere in the world with as long a straight as the first part of the Mulsanne. The low-drag setup does change the characteristics of the car. It will most likely take Tommy and I a good few runs in the morning to get ourselves acquainted with the circuit, let the surface clean up, get the timing right for how you go through certain parts of the circuit. You definitely in the race, you fall into a very distinct rhythm on how you do certain corners. From my experience, that’s the way to be consistently quick around Le Mans. You need to be in the mindset of hitting a lap time, being consistent with that time, working traffic, and keeping in mind how the car and tire can change over the stint.”
TOMMY MILNER, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “Everything points toward testing at Bowling Green being beneficial. We won’t know until we get to Le Mans and get on track. But we got some good information on tires, so all in all it was a good test. You’re always taking the information you learn and apply it to wherever you’re going to race. The biggest help of being able to test in Kentucky is to run the cars in low-downforce and expose them to high-speed corners – of which there are many at Le Mans. So in that respect I expect the data to be very beneficial. The change in aero setup isn’t a huge adjustment. The design of the Corvette C7.R gives you good confidence even when you’re in low downforce that the car isn’t going to do anything crazy.”
JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R: “It was good for me to get back in the car. It’s been since COTA in the FIA WEC race last year that I’d driven the Corvette C7.R, and that was with high-downforce aero. To get back in the car with low drag, it was a little tricky. But it’s good to get those laps before heading to Le Mans where it’s even trickier. I got three our four good runs in the test to get up to speed and get comfortable. From last year, it felt like the team has made gains with the Le Mans aero from a drivability point of view. It’s always going to be on edge but in the test at the Corvette Museum, it was the best I’ve ever felt in a Corvette running low-drag. I was happily surprised the car was that comfortable to drive.”
DOUG FEHAN, CORVETTE RACING PROGRAM MANAGER: “The Test Day is important because it allows us to validate all the work the Corvette Racing team has undertaken since the conclusion of last year’s Le Mans. There has been significant time spent on tracks in the U.S., on engineering simulations, in wind tunnels and on dynos. All were with the aim of achieving our ultimate goal of winning at Le Mans for the eighth time.”
Corvette Racing 24 Hours of Le Mans Record
Release Date: May 26, 2015