Corvette Racing Leads GTE Pro at Le Mans at Six Hours
Opening Segment Features Fierce Fight Between Corvette, Aston Martin, and Ferrari
LE MANS, France – Corvette Racing led the GTE Pro class at the six-hour mark in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Richard Westbrook was in the middle of a three-way battle, trading the lead repeatedly with the No. 97 Aston Martin and the No. 51 Ferrari. The No. 73 Compuware Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, and Jordan Taylor fell back initially, and then rebounded to run fourth as the first quarter of the race ended.
Despite predictions of rain, the only precipitation was a light sprinkle at the start. The racing was interrupted at the five-hour mark by an extended safety car period following a huge crash involving the No. 8 Toyota and No. 81 Ferrari at the Mulsanne corner. The field continued to circulate behind three safety cars at the six-hour mark while the damaged cars were removed and the tire wall repaired.
Starting third on the GTE grid, Gavin quickly moved to challenge the class-leading Aston Martin on the first lap. He took the lead shortly after the first hour, and then traded places with his rival throughout his second stint. Tommy Milner took over at 1:49 mark and the battle resumed – with the addition of the No. 51 Ferrari that had started at the rear of the field after missing qualifying due to an accident. Milner also did a double stint, handing off to Richard Westbrook at the 3:43 into the race.
Jan Magnussen started the No. 73 Corvette C6.R fifth on the GTE grid, but handling problems caused him to drop back to seventh. Antonio Garcia went in on the first pit stop, and an adjustment changed the character of the car as the Spaniard moved up to fifth. Jordan Taylor began his first stint as a Le Mans racer at 2:44 into the race, followed by Magnussen at 3:34.
Jan Magnussen, No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “I had some serious understeer throughout my first stint coming out of the corners. Since we had some other issues in practice and qualifying we’re maybe a bit behind in the development of the best race setup. They’ve now adjusted the rear of the car a bit to see if that can cure the problem for Antonio. Personally I don’t feel too well as I woke up with a cold and some fever. I can more or less drive around it as the adrenaline sort of takes over as soon as you’re in the car, but I don’t feel good enough yet to do double stints.”
Antonio Garcia, No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “That was quite all right, I think. I knew from Jan’s feedback that I would have to work the car a bit harder than usual. I had some understeer which I tried to compensate for, but maybe I tried a bit too hard because the lap times were quite good. We then adjusted the pressure in the rear tires for my second stint on the same set, and that brought the car back into the comfort zone.”
Jordan Taylor, No. 73 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “I had a good stint, feeling more and more comfortable each lap. A slow puncture in the right-front tire messed with my head a bit, giving me understeer in the left-hand corners and snap oversteer in the right-hand corners. Other than that, no real issues, apart from two guys who held me up through Porsche Curves.”
Oliver Gavin, No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “As usual it was a bit chaotic at the start. I was side-by-side with the Aston Martin coming out of the last corner. The 59 Ferrari was a bit tentative, and the Aston Martin was just gone on the straight. I knew I had to get past the Ferrari before his tires came up to temperature. I followed the Aston for the next 11 laps or so; my Corvette was very good on the brakes and in low-speed parts, but he was fast on the straight and the high-speed sections. On the second stint he was having a problem getting his tires up to temperature and I got inside of him going into the second chicane, but then I started sliding around and he went back by me. The sun had come out and the track temp was going up, our tires were coming in, and the circuit was rubbering up, so I think we’ll be pretty good as the race continues.”
Tommy Milner, No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R: “It was a lot of fun out there! You could see that Darren and I were being very polite to each other, which is how it should be at this stage of the race. It’s more entertaining when you’re racing someone close, either chasing or being chased. Our Corvette felt really good, quite consistent, even though the track was a little greasy. As the temperature cooled off the car felt better. The Aston Martin was very quick on the straights but I could see that their setup is not quiteright. The Ferrari was quite a way behind, so for them to get back to the front shows they are quick as well.”
24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro at Six Hours:
1. 74 Gavin/Milner/Westbrook, Corvette C6.R, 81
2. 51 Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander, Ferrari 458 Italia, 81
3. 77 Lietz/Lieb/Henzler, Porsche 911 RSR, 80
4. 73 Garcia/Magnussen/Taylor, Corvette C6.R, 80
5. 59 Makowiecki/Melo/Farnbacher, Ferrari 458 Italia, 80
6. 97 Mucke/Turner/Fernandez, Aston Martin Vantage V8, 80
7. 66 Cocker/Walker/Wills, Ferrari 458 Italia, 79
8. 71 Bertolini/Beretta/Cioci, Ferrari 458 Italia, 77
9. 80 Bergmeister/Long/Holzer, Porsche 911 RSR, 71
Release Date: June 16, 2012