Dawn in Le Mans: No. 63 Corvette Retires, No. 64 Corvette Repaired After Crash
Corvette Racing Back in the Race after Dramatic Morning
LE MANS, France – The No. 63 Corvette C6.R retired from the 24 Hours of Le Mans shortly after 7 a.m. this morning after completing 225 laps. Antonio Garcia was on his out-lap after replacing Johnny O’Connell in a routine pit stop when he reported a noise entering Mulsanne corner. Telemetry confirmed a problem, and the engine expired before he reached Indianapolis corner.
“Unfortunately it appears to be an engine failure, our first in 11 years of racing at Le Mans,” said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. “We’ll get the car back, take it apart, determine what the problem was, resolve it, and move forward. The engine was running perfectly one minute, and then not perfectly the next. There wasn’t any indication leading up to it – no loss of oil pressure, no degradation in performance. The cause could be any number of things, so we’ll look into it further before reaching a conclusion.”
Mechanic David James retrieved Garcia and the data acquisition memory from the stranded car and returned them to the Corvette Racing paddock.
“There was no sign of a problem,” Garcia said. “Suddenly there was a big noise and an engine alarm. I tried to cruise back to the pits, but that was it. Last year we won Le Mans, and this year it is a shame not to finish. It’s tough when you can’t fight for a win, but we need to keep our focus. This was the first time Corvette Racing has raced at Le Mans in GT2, and we’ll gain knowledge and improve for the future. The Corvettes ran 1-2 for nearly three-quarters of the race, and I’m looking forward to the next race now.”
At 8:24 a.m., the No. 64 Corvette C6.R had hard contact with the barriers in the Porsche Curves after an aggressive pass by the No. 1 Peugeot LMP1. Driver Emmanuel Collard was not injured in the accident.
“I turned to the second left in the Porsche corner and the Peugeot was on the inside,” Collard said. “I didn’t know he was there, I was focused on my driving. There was no contact, but he was there on the inside and I missed the right line. The car lost grip, and I crashed.”
Collard got the damaged car back to the pits at 8:27 a.m. The entire Corvette Racing crew began repairs, replacing bodywork and chassis components. At 8:42 a.m., Oliver Gavin got in the car, and at 8:51 a.m. the engine was started. Repairs were completed in 31 minutes, and the No. 64 Corvette rejoined the race in fifth place, six laps behind the class-leading No. 77 Porsche.
“It backed into the barrier really hard and took the inner frame bumper off, the rear tail, wing, and quarter panels,” said team manager Gary Pratt. “The clutch was damaged so we had to install a clutch and bellhousing. We changed the front nose box, and the exhaust was pushed under the rocker panel. Fortunately it didn’t tear off the suspension and all four wheels were pointing straight.”
Within a few laps, Gavin turned a lap at 3:59.356 in the No. 64 Corvette, a faster lap than his pole-winning qualifying run.
Release Date: June 13, 2010