Corvette Racing Second in GT1 at Midpoint of 24 Hours of Le Mans
Magnussen 41 Seconds Behind Leader at 3 a.m.
LE MANS, France – At the halfway point of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the quest for the GT1 title has become a four-car race. The duel between Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing took on the aspects of a chess match as darkness descended on the Le Mans circuit. The first nine hours of the race were run without a full-course caution, but the first safety car period began at the 9:10 mark and lasted for 32 minutes. Strategy emerged as the two teams jockeyed for track position and made calculated pit stops to ensure full fuel tanks when racing resumed. The extended safety car period negated the fuel mileage advantage that had allowed the No. 63 Corvette C6.R to run 14 laps between stops on several stints versus 13 laps for its rivals.
Earlier in the evening, the No. 64 Corvette encountered an electrical problem at the six-hour mark when a connection on the alternator failed. The Corvette Racing crew replaced the alternator in six minutes, losing a lap to the leader. Oliver Gavin replaced Max Papis in the cockpit and returned to action at 6:03 into the race.
As the race reached its midpoint at 3 a.m., Jan Magnussen was second in the GT1 standings in the No. 63 Corvette, 41 seconds behind the class-leading No. 009 Aston Martin. The No. 007 Aston Martin was third, and the No. 64 Corvette driven by Max Papis was fourth, one lap down.
The Corvette drivers have been running double stints throughout their rotations and double-stinting their Michelin tires in the cool temperatures. Gavin was followed by Beretta and Papis in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R while Magnussen was followed by O’Connell and Fellows in the No. 63 Corvette C6.R. After 12 hours of hard racing, both Corvettes had made 13 pit stops. The top four contenders have turned fast laps that range from 3.49.387 (No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9) to 3:50.650 (No. 63 Corvette C6.R).
24 Hours of Le Mans GT1 Top Five Standings at 12 Hours:
1. (009) Brabham/Garcia/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 180
2. (63) Fellows/O’Connell/Magnussen, Corvette C6.R, 180
3. (007) Frentzen/Wendlinger/Piccini, Aston Martin DBR9, 179
4. (64) Gavin/Beretta/Papis, Corvette C6.R, 178
5. (72) Alphand/Policand/Moreau, Corvette C6.R, 176
CORVETTE RACING QUOTES:
Olivier Beretta, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “We ran for a long time behind the safety car and the exhaust from the car in front of me was giving me a headache. The car is OK, everything is fine.”
Ron Fellows, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “It was very slick out there. I was struggling and I don’t quite know why. The soft tires didn’t quite work for some reason. Jan took over on soft stickers. Traffic was not too bad but I got stuck for a while behind the No. 59 Aston and the Saleen which were fighting each other. There’s still a long distance to go, and anything can happen, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Oliver Gavin, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “It’s been a bit crazy. There have been moments when the traffic is so bad you’re just dawdling around the track for several corners. The car is still running quickly, but then you can lose five seconds in traffic. If you get a clear run you can do 3.50s and 3.51s, and 3.49 if you’re really lucky. I think that will be the pace for the rest of the night.”
Jan Magnussen, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “That wasn’t too bad, just cruising around and staying out of trouble. Which isn’t easy, as there are a lot of guys out there who clearly haven’t driven a lot in the dark before. The balance of the car is okay, it’s just moving around a bit. When the sun comes out again we’ll be stronger than the Astons, I’m sure.”
Johnny O’Connell, No. 63 Corvette C6.R: “The car is a bit nicer than it was before. The toughest thing is getting a clear lap in. We’ve got a good car, and the fuel consumption is very good. We’re doing 14 laps a stint, so each time we’re gaining some time back on the Astons.”
Max Papis, No. 64 Corvette C6.R: “We’ve been pushing very hard since we had the alternator problem and it doesn’t seem like we can make up much ground. We’re very consistent, but not as fast as I was expecting us to be. It’s still a long way and everyone is pulling the best out of themselves.”
Release Date: June 14, 2008