Corvettes Running Strong After 16 Dramatic Hours at The 24 Hours of Le Mans

Jun 13 2004 admin News Comments Off on Corvettes Running Strong After 16 Dramatic Hours at The 24 Hours of Le Mans

Drivers perform double and triple stints

LE MANS, France – The General Motors Chevrolet Corvette Racing team is currently holding the second and third positions in the GTS class at the two-thirds mark of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The #64 Corvette is in second position, six laps behind the leading Ferrari, while the #63 Corvette is close behind. The Chevrolet drivers put in overtime during the cooler night hours, staying in the car for two to three hours at a time.

After holding a short lead over the Ferraris into the midnight hour, the #64 Corvette had an incident at roughly 1:00 a.m. local time. Jan Magnussen was cut off by a faster prototype car in the Ford Chicane and spun into the tire barriers. After corner workers pulled his car from the gravel, he nursed the car back to the pits where the Corvette crew set about installing new bodywork. Magnussen returned for duty and chipped away at the Ferrari lead. Oliver Gavin entered the car next and reported vibrations during his early morning stints, bringing the Corvette into the pits a number of times for diagnosis. Eventually the team changed the front fascia again and, as dawn broke at La Sarthe, Olivier Beretta entered the car and ran consistently over a long period of time on the same set of tires.

“My tires were on their third stint, which is an amazing amount of durability, but at the end it was maybe a bit difficult,” said Beretta. “The last five to six laps I was just taking care of the car and noticing a small vibration. It seems that many cars are having problems today, so we’ll just see how the rest of the race goes.”

The #63 Corvette spent the nighttime hours steadily gaining on the leading cars. After a number of accidents earlier in the race, which put the team down to sixth in class, the drivers have climbed back to third position while the car has remained reliable despite a rash of earlier incidents.

“Our game plan has changed in that we can’t run fast enough to catch the leaders, so we are focusing on running smoothly,” said O’Connell. “After three hours of driving, you definitely go through various degrees of pain and you have to maintain your focus. From time to time you might think about how nice it would be to be back home on the lake, but you maintain focus and manage the time inside the car. We’re concentrating on technique with the hope that we will be rewarded for our reliability.”

Positions at 16 Hours – Gran Tourisme (GTS) Class
Pos. No. Car Fastest Lap Laps Completed
1 66 Ferrari 550 M 3:53.327 232
2 64 Corvette C5-R 3:53.598 226
3 63 Corvette C5-R 3:54.162 221
4 69 Ferrari 550 M 3:52.934 213
5 65 Ferrari 550 M 3:52.223 213
6 62 Ferrari 575 GTC 4:00.453 197
7 61 Ferrari 575 GTC 4:00.910 163