Corvette Smashes Records in Le Mans Test Session
Chevrolets run more laps than any other competitor in preparation for June race
LE MANS, France – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team set record times today during preliminary testing in Le Mans, France. The open test day is the only time participants in the sports car classic can run on the famed Sarthe track before qualifying in June. The day was used by the two factory Corvettes and some 50 other entrants to prepare their cars and acquire important data from this rarely used circuit. The #63 Corvette C5-R, driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Max Papis recorded a best time of 3:49.982; the #64 Corvette C5-R, driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen recorded a best lap of 3:50.079. The times represent a significant leap in development, with the two cars besting last year’s test session times by roughly 10 seconds.
“We tested over 11,000 miles since last season in preparation for Le Mans,” said Harry Turner, GM’s group manager for Corvette Racing. “We’ve improved on virtually every single aspect of the program; the times we posted and the efficiency we showed is better than we expected and it is due to the hard work of everyone at Corvette Racing.”
The works Corvettes put on a display of absolute efficiency, with both running nearly the same number of practice laps despite different testing priorities; both also eclipsed even the faster, lighter prototype cars in total laps completed.
“This is representative of our tremendous team effort to constantly improve ourselves,” said Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing. “We talked about our improvement all winter, now we’ve walked it.”
Team members evaluated a variety of modifications specifically engineered for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition, the drivers provided feedback on the new side windows, front fascia fairings and a different rear wing angle – all developed for the high-speed straights of Le Mans.
“I am extremely proud to be a part of the Corvette family today,” said Max Papis, driver of the #63 Corvette C5-R that set the fastest GTS lap in practice. “Everyone here works very hard and I was provided a great environment to drive well. All three of us on the team are comfortable with the way the car feels and we are excited for the race in June. This is a real team.”
Less than one tenth of one second separated the two Chevrolets, a remarkable feat considering the 8.46-mile length of the Sarthe. Both cars beat last year’s test and qualifying times by a significant margin while the closest competitor in today’s session was more than four seconds behind.
|Combined Practice Times – Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class|
|63||Corvette C5-R||Fellows, O’Connell, Papis||3:49.982|
|64||Corvette C5-R||Gavin, Beretta, Magnussen||3:50.079|
|69||Ferrari 550 M||Bouchut, Goueslard||3:54.105|
|66||Ferrari 550 M||Enge, Kox, Menu||3:54.115|
|65||Ferrari 550 M||Rydell, Turner, McRae||3:56.026|
|62||Ferrari 575 GTC||Hezemans, Barde, Deletraz||4:00.780|
|61||Ferrari 575 GTC||Bosch, Sullivan, Biagi||4:04.394|
|60||Pagani Zonda||Alliot, Hallyday, Kumpen||4:14.394|