Corvette Racing Running Second and Sixth at 12-Hour Mark in Le Mans
No. 64 Corvette Closing on Class-Leading Aston Martin in GT1; Misfortune Stalks No. 63 Corvette
LE MANS, France – At the midpoint of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette Racing’s twin C6.Rs were running second and sixth in the GT1 class and sixth and 12th overall. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen was two minutes behind the class-leading No. 009 Aston Martin and cutting the deficit. The No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R of Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis encountered misfortune in the form of a clutch problem and a three-minute stop-and-go penalty that thwarted its comeback from an early-race incident.
“We’re halfway through the race, so now it’s like we’re starting the 12-hour Sebring race,” said GM Racing road racing manager Steve Wesoloski. “The No. 64 Corvette has been running on the top of its game. It had contact with a prototype that caused some damage to the bodywork and we had a long pit stop when refueling as a consequence. That’s really the difference between the leading Corvette and Aston Martin now. The No. 63 Corvette has had its issues, and we hope they’re behind us now.”
“The cars are running great and our drivers are happy with the overall balance,” Wesoloski reported. “The big challenge was at twilight when some drivers seemed to lose their way and dragged a lot of gravel onto the track. The temperatures are much cooler now and there is a good amount of rubber on the racing line. Our drivers are doing double stints but we are doing single stints on the tires due to the risk of punctures because of the gravel on the course.”
The crew of the No. 63 car performed an 18-minute clutch replacement at 12:37 a.m. after driver Max Papis reported that the clutch was slipping during gear changes and when accelerating out of the pits. The team also made repairs to the left rear bodywork that was damaged in contact with the guardrail in the second hour.
NO. 63 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R QUOTES:
Johnny O’Connell: “The handling of the car is very good. It was frustrating in the first stint because the visibility through the windshield was very bad. Before the second stint the crew pulled a tear-off from the windshield and that helped a lot. That was our first shot at double-stinting the tires, and that’s not the thing for us to do right now. We’ve worked our way back into the top six, and there’s a long way to go so we’ll keep pushing as hard as we can. We’ve got a good car, but we need some breaks to go our way.”
Max Papis: “It looks like today things are not coming easily to us. We had a clutch problem, and I don’t know whether it’s related to what happened earlier in the accident. The clutch started to slip on the gear changes, and then after my pit stop it was slipping a lot. The guys did an amazing job to change the clutch in the time that it took for me to get a drink. We didn’t need to put them to this test, but they did well. The car is a little beat up; we worked really hard to get a great car, and I’m a bit sad that we can’t get the best out of it. We’ll keep marching on.”
NO. 64 COMPUWARE CORVETTE C6.R QUOTES:
Oliver Gavin: “Everything was going well till two laps from the end of my stint. I didn’t know there was an LMP car behind me on the pit straight, so when I turned into the Dunlop chicane I all of a sudden heard a big bang and then I was in the gravel. I pointed the car in the direction as well as I could and miraculously I got out of the gravel without much delay. I did have a puncture though, so did a slow lap and came in. In the Corvette we have a rear-view camera rather than a rear-view mirror in the cockpit, but the TV screen in the cockpit had come off, so you sort of have to hold it to get a look at what’s coming behind. As a result you hardly look in your rear view mirrors on the doors. It’s a real shame because everything was going very well. Hopefully no other damage has been done, but it’s still a long race.”
Jan Magnussen: “Everything is going quite well now. I did a triple stint, double stinting the tires. We’re using the medium compound tires now which allow us to go quicker. The car is still not as good as it was this afternoon, still a bit loose at the back, but we’re cutting back our deficit. The track is getting grippier, but there’s a lot of gravel everywhere.”
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Standings at 12 Hours:
1. (009) Sarrazin/Lamy/Ortelli, Aston Martin DBR9, 177
2. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 177
3. (62) Piquet Jr./Garcia/Brabham, Aston Martin DBR9, 174
4. (72) Policand/Goueslard/Alphand, Corvette C5-R, 172
5. (007) Enge/Turner/Piccini, Aston Martin DBR9, 171
6. (63) Fellows/O’Connell/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 167
The 24 Hours of Le Mans started at 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, June 17, and will conclude at 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, June 18. The SPEED Channel is televising 20 hours of live coverage in the U.S., from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday and from 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday to 11:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday. Audio coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans can be heard over the Internet at www.radiolemans.com.
Release Date: June 17, 2006