Target Le Mans: Corvette Racing Ready for Test Day
First steps toward eighth victory in world’s greatest endurance race
LE MANS, France – With seven class victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours since 2001, Corvette Racing is an established force at the world’s greatest endurance race. The drive for an eighth championship begins this weekend with the two Compuware Corvette C6.Rs taking part in the annual Test Day at the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday (June 9).
The eight-hour session is as critical as ever for the No. 73 and No. 74 entries. This serves as the first chance to verify settings and engineering the team established since the 2012 race.
“As is our standard practice, the objective will be to achieve the absolute best track setup for all conditions and not necessarily set the fastest lap time,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager. “We have learned throughout our time at Le Mans that having a car in which all the drivers are comfortable is far more meaningful than sitting on the pole. Simply put, getting everything right is required for success at Le Mans.”
The test also is key to getting Corvette Racing’s two endurance drivers – Jordan Taylor and Richard Westbrook – reacquainted with their teammates and cars. Neither Taylor nor Westbrook have driven the Corvette since the Sebring 12 Hours in March to open the American Le Mans Series.
“Normally, it only takes a few laps to readjust,” said Westbrook, who will drive the No. 74 Corvette with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner. “But Le Mans is Le Mans, and it’s a very different track than anything else in the world. Things do take longer there. But I’m not too worried. The last two years I missed the test and it wasn’t too much of a problem. So this year being able to do it is a bonus. More track time is better.”
While Westbrook will contest Le Mans for the fourth time – third with Corvette – the 23-year-old Taylor made his debut in 2012. The magic of Le Mans wasn’t new; he spent his formative years watching his father, Wayne Taylor, compete at the 24 Hours. As was the case a year ago, Taylor teams with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia who have seven class wins at Le Mans to their credit.
“It will be nice having seat time in a car that you don’t drive that often,” Taylor said. “Taking a couple months off is difficult, but that’s the benefit of the test day. Getting more laps at Le Mans is always a good thing, as is learning from my teammates who all have massive amounts of experience.
“I knew (Le Mans) so well last year having watched the race my whole life that when I got on the track I already knew where I was,” Taylor added. “It was a matter of braking points and how much speed you could carry. The track itself is fun for a driver but for an engineer it’s a little tougher because you have high-speed corners where you need downforce but long straights where you want to take it (the downforce) off. There is definitely an engineering compromise but the Corvette guys do a really job with that and always give us a good car.”
A great car and great strategy netted Corvette Racing a class Victory Lane at Sebring. The Gavin/Milner/Westbrook trio drove from two laps down due to an electrical problem and gave the team a huge endurance boost.
“Sebring was a monkey off our backs,” Westbrook said. “Even though we won the ALMS championship last year, in endurance races we had a bad record. The last two years I’ve been in the No. 74 car, we were leading by more than a lap and failed to finish. So I personally really needed Sebring and I know the crew wanted to prove they could do it not just in a two-hour race but also in a 12-hour race. It’s a massive confidence builder going into Le Mans.”
Release Date: June 6, 2013