Le Mans 12-Hour Report: Consistent Corvettes Second and Third in GT1
Routine Run for Corvette Racing at Midpoint of 24-Hour Race
LE MANS, France – Nightfall brought cooler temperatures and welcome relief to the Circuit of the Sarthe as the rivalry between Corvette and Aston Martin heated up in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen was second in the GT1 class and eighth overall after completing 172 laps at 4 a.m. The No. 63 Corvette of Johnny O’Connell, Ron Fellows and Max Papis was on the same lap, 1:51.223 behind its sister car.
Max Papis put in a triple stint in the No. 63 Corvette in the darkness, turning over the yellow C6.R to Johnny O’Connell shortly before 4 a.m.
“Italians like to stay up at night,” Papis joked. “We’ve been working a lot on tire choices, and we’ve been finding a good balance in the car. The car is comfortable; it’s cool and not tiring to drive, so you can stay in for a long while.”
The six-hour run since midnight has been routine in the Corvette Racing camp, with no repeat of the tire punctures that plagued the No. 64 car in the early stages of the race.
“We’re keeping on eye on the tires and adding fluids occasionally on pit stops, and so far everything is going by the book,” said Ray Gongla, crew chief for the No. 63 Corvette C6.R. “We had two flat tires early, but now we’re back in the game. The hot temperatures earlier today took their toll because the heat dehydrates you, but the crew’s come through in good shape.”
Dan Binks, crew chief for the No. 63 Corvette C6.R, agreed with his colleague’s assessment. “The drivers and crew are doing a great job and the car is running good, so everything’s fine to this point,” Binks reported. “We’re fortunate that we haven’t lost any time with flat tires, but we’re only halfway through this race and a lot of things are going to happen before this race is finished.”
“So far I’m very happy with how everything is going,” said Jan Magnussen after his nighttime stint in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R. “Obviously we didn’t expect the two punctures we had in the beginning that put us behind the game, but we’ve caught up now. The first time in the car when the sun was out, it was tough because it was really warm, but the night stint was not bad.”
“It’s always eventful and you have to keep your wits about you because you never know what’s going to be around the next corner,” noted Oliver Gavin after his double stint in the darkness. “People are flying off through the gravel traps, spinning, putting oil on the track – these things make the character of the race. Our car’s balance is really good, and the C6.R is an awesome car that’s getting stronger as the race goes on. I’m very happy with our position at the moment, but the test will come this morning when the heat returns.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will conclude at 10 a.m. EDT (4 p.m. local time) on Sunday, June 19. SPEED Channel will televise 17.5 hours of live coverage; check local listings for times.
GT1 Top-Five Standings after 12 Hours:
1. (58) Enge-Kox-Lamy, Aston Martin DBR9, 173
2. (64) Gavin-Beretta-Magnussen/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 172
3. (63) O’Connell-Fellows-Papis/Chevrolet Corvette C6.R, 172
4. (59) Brabham-Sarrazin-Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 170
5. (50) Goueslard-Dupard-Vosse, Ferrari 550, 166
Release Date: June 19, 2005