Corvette Racing Completes Trouble-Free Test at Le Mans
Corvette C6.Rs Third and Fourth Fastest in Eight-Hour Test Session
LE MANS, France – After nearly a year of planning and preparation, Corvette Racing set the pace today in testing at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans, the home of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Jan Magnussen, Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows ran the fastest lap in the GT1 class at 3:49.207. The No. 64 Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis was third quickest among the 15 GT1 entries with a lap at 3:51.628.
Magnussen posted the fastest lap for Corvette Racing with 22 minutes remaining in the session, shading the second-ranked No. 007 Aston Martin of Enge/Herbert/Kox by 1.641 seconds. The scheduled eight-hour session ended with nine minutes remaining due to a red flag.
“Today has been the best ‘pre-qualifying’ I have ever had with Corvette Racing,” said Magnussen. “We managed to set up the car just the way we like it and made very good progress throughout the day. We now have a car with which we can attack hard without risking falling off, which is exactly what we’ll need for the race because I think this year will be a tough one.”
The No. 63 Corvette C6.R ran a total of 81 laps and its sister car completed 82 laps, the most in the GT1 class. The long day was virtually trouble-free for the team as the drivers evaluated tires, suspension setups, and aerodynamic settings. Today’s session was the only opportunity for teams to test on the 8.5-mile course before the start of official practice and qualifying for the world’s most prestigious sports car race on June 13.
“Some people wondered why we were racing in the American Le Mans Series even though we had no competition, and I think today’s result provides a clear answer,” said Doug Fehan. “We’ve done a tremendous amount of work over the winter and early this season, and the testing that we’ve done with Michelin has been outstanding. The drivers, engineers and mechanics did another exceptional job, and that’s one of the reasons why Corvette Racing is successful.”
The daylong test session was divided into two four-hour segments. The No. 64 Corvette C6.R topped the morning session with a lap at 3:52.520, while the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R was fourth at 3:53.824.
There are five Corvettes among the 15 entries in the GT1 class, the premier division for production-based race cars. Joining the two factory entries are a pair of Corvettes from Luc Alphand Adventures (last year’s Le Mans-winning C6.R and the C5-R that finished third in class in 2006) and a C6.R fielded by PSI Experience.
Minor changes have been made in the course at the Tertre Rouge corner leading onto the long Mulsanne straight. Three-degree banking in Tertre Rouge and a slightly shorter lap length of 13.629 kilometers (reduced from 13.650 kilometers in 2006) produced quicker lap times for the Corvettes than last year’s test session when the fastest Corvette C6.R ran 3:53.029.
Today’s test was a prelude to two days of qualifying on June 13-14 and the 24-hour race on June 16-17. The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 3 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 16 and finishes at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, June 17. SPEED will televise 17.5 hours of coverage in North America starting at 8:30 a.m. EDT on June 16.
Also in France today, Chevrolet driver Alain Menu won the seventh round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship on the street course of Pau, in the Pyrenees. It was Menu’s second win of the season in the Chevrolet Lacetti, moving him up to seventh in the provisional point standings. The next round of the WTCC takes place at Brno in the Czech Republic in two weeks.
24 Hours of Le Mans LM GT1 Test Times:
1. (63) Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 3:49.207
2. (007) Enge/Herbert/Kox, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:50.848
3. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 3:51.628
4. (55) Prost/Ayari/Lapierre, Saleen S7R, 3:51.721
5. (008) Bouchut/Gollin/Elgaard, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:51.822
6. (100) Babini/Davies/Malucelli, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.028
7. (009) Brabham/Rydell/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.170
8. (59) Garcia/Menten/Fittipaldi, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:52.295
9. (72) Policand/Goueslard, Corvette C6.R, 3.52.938
10. (70) Hallyday/Gosselin/Peter, Corvette C6.R, 3:53.527
11. (54) Groppi/Prost/Belloc, Saleen S7R, 3:54.176
12. (73) Blancheman/Vosse/Andre, Corvette C5-R, 3:54.625
13. (006) Bornhauser/Berville/Fisken, Aston Martin DBR9, 3:58.935
14. (53) Apicella/Yogo, Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT, 3:59.355
15. (67) Vasilev/Kostka/Pergl, Ferrari 550, 4:01.593
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES:
Olivier Beretta, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “It’s been a very productive day today. We managed to do all we wanted to do, which is very good indeed, because normally you always want to do more than you actually have time for. I went through my whole list of things the engineers wanted me to do, so I’m happy.”
“The track is now also a lot better and safer. The ACO have done a fantastic job in redesigning the Tertre Rouge corner, making it quite a bit faster. They also moved the gravel back a bit at the Ford chicanes which will prevent gravel from being strewn on the track and thus avoid the large number of cut tires we had the last few years. Indianapolis corner is now also a lot more enjoyable because you feel a lot safer with the extended run-off. And the new paddock is of course a big improvement. Happy 75th anniversary to them!”
Ron Fellows, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “We’ve learned a lot today. The team came here very well prepared and I’m getting more comfortable in the car. The track was very dirty in the first session, and then in the last few hours it came in. We’ll make a few more changes for the upcoming test and qualifying sessions, but we certainly have a good foundation now.”
“Overall the changes to the track are very positive. Tertre Rouge is more fun – it’s smoother and it’s faster. Every time I’ve gone through there, I thought I could go a little faster. Arnage is a slightly wider at the exit and that’s helpful as well.”
Oliver Gavin, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “The test has gone extremely well for us. We’ve covered a lot of ground – gone through dampers, suspension settings, and tires as well. Max, Olivier and I are going to come away from this test feeling quite confident in the race car.”
“All of the changes to the track have been positive from my perspective. The way the circuit flows now is very nice. The changes in Tertre Rouge were a big improvement – the tarmac there has a lot of grip and the corner is quite quick now. Last year it was a third-gear corner, and now it’s a fourth-gear corner that lets you really shoot down the Mulsanne straight. They’ve also made a change on the exit of Arnage and there’s a little more room to work with on the exit of the corner.”
Jan Magnussen, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “Today has been the best ‘pre-qualifying’ I have ever had with Corvette Racing. We managed to set up the car just the way we like it and made very good progress throughout the day. We now have a car with which we can attack hard without risking falling off, which is exactly what we’ll need for the race because I think this year will be a tough one.”
Johnny O’Connell, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “It was a great day for both Corvette C6.Rs. One of the advantages of running two cars is having the ability to share information within the team. We made a geometry change that I didn’t like, and when we went back the other way it was a dramatic improvement so we continued to go in that direction. The day was spent with everyone talking about how the car was responding, and in the last 90 minutes we put on the best parts of what we’d learned. Jan did an amazing job. We have a car that can run fast times consistently, and we leave here in good spirits with a stronger package than we have in past years when we’ve won. Hopefully this test is a sign of good things to come.”
Max Papis, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “I think that the No. 64 Corvette C6.R was fantastic. We focused all day on getting a car that’s consistent on long runs and I think this is the best car I’ve had going into Le Mans. All three drivers work together well, and we exchange information with the No. 63 Corvette. It will be a tough battle in the race, but we’ve come as prepared as possible. I’ll race next weekend in the U.S. with the Pontiac Daytona Prototype in my other GM Racing program, and then come back here and hopefully fight for my first victory in GT1 at Le Mans.”
Release Date: June 3, 2007