Category Archives: Le Mans 24 Hours

Post Le Mans 24 Hours news and views from Oliver Gavin

sm_20160618_LM-1195-CTLThe story of the race

  • Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor retire from the 84th 24 Heures du Mans in the early hours of Sunday (19 June) morning
  • Having already taken victory at Daytona and Sebring in 2016, Gavin had hopes of making it a clean sweep with a second Le Mans win in as many years and the sixth of his career
  • Gavin started the 2016 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours from 13th in class behind the Safety Car, deployed after torrential rain struck Circuit de la Sarthe
  • Gavin was happy with the progress made during a triple stint, which wasn’t without its issues on a drying track
  • Milner and Taylor followed Gavin and handed the #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R back to the five-time Le Mans winner with approximately 17 hours remaining
  • From ninth, Gavin utilised soft compound tyres to gain one more position, but further progress was proving tough
  • Corvette Racing team tried to make the best of rules aimed at balancing performance to run in the top eight in the GTE Pro division
  • A collision with the barriers with Milner behind the wheel in the early hours of Sunday (19 June, 2016) morning brought the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours to a premature and abrupt end.

    Gavin says…

    On starting the 84th 24 Heures du Mans with a triple stint…

    “The triple stint was eventful and the wet conditions at the start were a challenge, but it quickly dried out. The Corvette Racing team made a good call on tyres and we made some good ground on our competitors. I had some problems with the tyre pressures and chassis balance, particularly after the second stop, but it will come to us as the race progresses and the circuit rubbers in. My left ear-plug also fell out, so my last stint was quite painful! But we’ll make progress even if our chassis balance is a little edgy early on.”

    On his return to the #64 Corvette as the sun set over Le Mans…

    “To be honest, I think we were treading water a little bit and we need to see who is still competitive and running well when the sun comes up. We have no major issues and we’re just rolling through the pit stops and driver changes. We’ve switched to the softer tyre and that has helped us be a little more competitive, but we’re short on outright pace.” “The triple stint was eventful and the wet conditions at the start were a challenge but it quickly dried. The team made a good call on tyres and we made some good ground on our competitors.

    On Tommy Milner’s race-ending trip into the barriers…

    “Tommy (Milner) was in the car for a double stint, but, on the entry into the Dunlop Chicane, the rear snapped away. He corrected, but the car was already heading towards the wall and it impacted head-on into the wall. The car was heavily damaged, but Tommy was able to walk away unaided and unharmed. This again demonstrated how strong and how safe the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is, and number one on the list of priorities for everyone at Corvette Racing is driver safety.

    “Drivers are all here to perform, we all did that and I just said to Tommy that it’s an extremely tough break and it could have been any one of us. He was a big factor in last year’s win so we know he’s got everything you need to be successful at Le Mans. It’s just the way Le Mans can bite you, as you’re going so fast for so long and the car’s so light on aero. You’re relying on mechanical grip so you can be off the track in a heartbeat.”

    On the Balance of Performance in the 84th 24 Heures du Mans…

    “Right from the start we knew we were going to be up against it, looking at the pace of the Ford and Ferrari, as well as the Porsche and Aston Martin. As the race unfolded and we got into the night, it seemed we were a match for most, if not a little bit quicker than the Astons and Porsches. It was only when the sun came up that we saw the Fords and Ferraris really starting to stretch their legs again. You can easily lose the race at night, but you can’t win it, so maybe they were being a little easier and then waiting for the last few hours to see what they had.

    “The Balance of Performance adjustment certainly helped us, but it wasn’t all we needed so we were trying for strategies that would work, like trying the soft tyre combination. There’s only so much that we can do as a team and there are many frustrated people frustrated, but we know we’ve got to go away and work doubly hard to make our car better and see what we can do on our return in 2017.”

    On recovering from Le Mans weeks…

    “Over the next few days I won’t think an awful lot about racing. I try to spend as much time as I can with my family and just reset back to normal life. There has been so much intensity, pressure, time and anticipation – everybody gets really ramped up for this race. It’s the focal point of the year, but, win or lose we know the racing season does continue after Le Mans.”

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    Pre-24 Hours of Le Mans news and views from Oliver Gavin

    sm_ecd6cb00-f304-49d6-b04e-3bc1141b96d8Oliver Gavin’s incredible Le Mans record

  • 15 times a 24 Heures du Mans competitor
  • Five-time winner
  • Eight-time podium visitor
  • 14 attempts in a Corvette
  • Most successful Corvette Racing driver at Le Mans
  • 32 per cent entry-to-win ratio
  • 53 per cent podium ratio
  • Official Le Mans test report (5 June, 2016)

  • Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor return, reuniting the 2015 Le Mans-winning line-up;
  • Corvette Racing ended the official Le Mans test in first and fourth in GTE Pro, Gavin in P4;
  • Ultra-competitive GTE Pro field promises to provide the closest of fights for victory across all of the manufacturers;
  • Chevrolet Corvette C7.R runs 2016 aero and new Michelin tyres at Le Mans for the first time, with satisfactory results;
  • Fastest pre-race testing pace ever: lapping Circuit de la Sarthe two seconds quicker in similar conditions suggests a very fast race pace in the 24 Hours of Le Mans itself.

    Gavin says…

    Ahead of his 16th visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

    “Our whole year at Corvette Racing is geared up around this event. It’s huge for the team and for me. I love it when June comes around each year, although it represents an enormous amount of work and effort by all involved.”

    On the official Le Mans test…

    “We ran through the intended programme and were pleased with the results of the test day. Jordan (Taylor) only flew in from Detroit that morning after competing for Wayne Taylor Racing in the WeatherTech United SportsCar Championship. It was good for us all to be back together at Le Mans.

    On the 2016 Corvette C7.R at Le Mans…

    “It felt good. We were really pleased with the balance. It’s the first time that we have run the updated aero package in conjunction with the new tyres from Michelin, and I have to say the results were very satisfying. We ran the aero kit in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and it performed very well there, but we were on the low-energy Michelin tyres, so it was great to get to grips with the new package.”

    On the competition and the chief threats for victory…

    “I see threats coming from all directions, pretty much. All the manufacturers in GTE Pro look very strong and the pace was fast from the start of the test to the end. You couldn’t take your eyes off the timing screens for a second, as different cars were posting faster sectors here, fastest laps there. It is going to be ultra-competitive, that’s for sure!”

    On his chances of achieving victory number six…

    “We have a good chance; the test showed we have good pace, but we will have to see what the opposition was really doing. Some may have been driving to a delta time, others may have been laying everything on the line. We will only find out when we come back for the race. We have proven reliability, while others have new and untried cars at Le Mans, but everybody is focused on one thing – winning.”

    For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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    Oliver Gavin Honoured by the BRDC with the Colin Chapman Trophy

    Oliver Gavin was the deserving recipient of the Colin Chapman trophy at the annual British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) awards luncheon on Monday 7th December 2015, being handed the accolade by former Formula One World Champion Damon Hill at a ceremony in London.

    The award, which is presented to drivers that have displayed great team spirit, has a glittering array of former winners that include; Sir Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Ross Brawn and Christian Horner.

    Gavin’s career, which has spanned some two and a half decades, has seen him achieve many notable milestones, from winning the British Formula 3 Championship and being awarded the McLaren Autosport Young Driver of the Year title to his rise to the cusp of Formula One, before firmly establishing himself as a World Class endurance and GT driver by winning the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours for the fifth time this year.

    “I was very honoured to receive the Colin Chapman Trophy” said Gavin, “My season this year was defined by one event, the Le Mans 24 Hours and the roller coaster of emotions and events that week made it an extraordinary race. This award reflects the efforts of the whole team throughout that week which resulted in our ultimate victory in the GTE Pro Class. To get my 5th victory at Le Mans is very special.” 

    Oliver will be back on track for another season with Corvette Racing in 2016 including another assault on the classic French race in June.

    For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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    Oliver Gavin becomes five-time class winner in 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans

    Corvette Racing Le Mans 2015Oliver Gavin became a five-time class winner in the 83rd 24 Heures du Mans, the Yardley Hastings driver and his Corvette Racing teammates, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor, seeing off strong opposition from Aston Martin and Ferrari and emerging from some of the best GT racing ever witnessed at Circuit de la Sarthe to top the super-competitive GTE Pro category (13-14 June).

    Gavin completed two stints during the first half of the French endurance classic, when Corvette Racing and Aston Martin were locked in a seemingly relentless battle for top honours in the GTE Pro class, only for the latter to fade away during the early hours of Sunday morning.

    But while the Aston Martin challenge dwindled, the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander happily picked up the baton as Corvette’s chief challenger.

    Taylor was in the midst of another lengthy spell behind the wheel as dawn broke over central France and an untroubled third stint followed for Gavin.

    Milner then jumped aboard the sole factory Corvette and emerged directly ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari; unbelievably, the pair were nose-to-tail after 18 hours of racing, but Milner soaked up the unrelenting pressure and eventually made a break for it at the head of GTE Pro.Corvette Racing Le Mans 2015

    The race continued to ebb and flow when Taylor stepped back in for his final outing of the race, and localised sprinkles of rain temporarily increased the risk but ultimately never impacted the lap times.

    Young American, Taylor, circulated solidly for the duration of his two hours behind the wheel, but Gavin was left to take a run at the class-leading AF Corse team en route to the chequered flag.

    Sadly, fans were denied a grandstand finish when Vilander pulled the #51 Ferrari 458 Italia into the pits with unconfirmed technical problems during the 22nd of 24 hours.

    As a result, Gavin and Corvette Racing were given a free run at the GTE Pro victory, although AF Corse’s demise was a pure demonstration of the brutality of Le Mans and a stark reminder that there’s no place for complacency in the twice-around-the-clock enduro.

    The tension and anticipation within the Corvette Racing camp was profound and there was an unwillingness to believe that a victory was possible during the final throes of the race.

    The threat of rain only served to heighten the anxiety felt by all involved with the Corvette Racing programme and, while a wet race was declared with less than 20 minutes on the clock, Gavin deployed all of the lessons learned during 14 years of competition at Le Mans to protect his position.

    Corvette Racing Le Mans 2015The British ace tentatively nursed the #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to the finish and, after 337 laps of the 8.46mile Circuit de la Sarthe, achieved his fifth class victory at Le Mans and the first win for Corvette Racing since 2011.

    The success was made all the more poignant by the fact that the sister #63 Corvette was withdrawn from the race after a heavy practice-qualifying shunt.

    Following unrestrained podium celebrations, a delighted Gavin said: “Winning Le Mans is always a fairy tale story. The way everything turned out over the week, with the #63 Corvette having its issues and not being able to start the race… the way the team all came together and led us into the race and enabled us to have this fantastic result today, it’s just amazing. It’s just been one of those days where you’re waiting for something to spring up, like another hurdle to come in your way to stop you from taking a victory. It was a spectacular race for Tommy (Milner) and Jordan (Taylor) and myself – one of those events where you’re having great races with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche but in the end we were the strongest car and we ended up coming away with victory. This is my fifth victory here at Le Mans, and I’m absolutely thrilled to come back here with Corvette Racing. I’m a very happy man.”

    “The battle has been very close and the ebb and flow of the race in GTE Pro was extraordinary. There wasn’t much between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari, but Le Mans is brutal and it doesn’t pull any punches when choosing who’s going to win. The victor can be someone who has performed brilliantly, or somebody that did a good job, but has had a nice slice of luck. We have needed to catch a break after a few tough years at Le Mans and I’m delighted that we took our chance here today.”

    For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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    Oliver Gavin at Le Mans: The 12-hour update

    3RPR8434A stout Oliver Gavin completed two stints during the first half of the 83rd 24 Hours of Le Mans, as Corvette Racing and Aston Martin relentlessly hammered one another in an enthralling battle for top honours in the GTE Pro category (13-14 June).

    Gavin moved from seventh to fifth in class after dispatching the SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini and the #91 Porsche Team Manthey entry in the hands of Richard Leitz prior to being lapped by the LMP1 frontrunners for the first time on the fifth tour of the 8.46mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

    There was no let-up in Gavin’s pursuit of the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantages and the AF Corse Ferrari at the head of GTE Pro, but, with the top five lapping within a tenth of a second of each other during the first hour, the gaps remained relatively static.

    However, a Safety Car intervention followed the first round of pit stops and brought Gavin to within striking distance of first position, six seconds splitting the British ace and Nicki Thim in the class-leading #95 Aston Martin at the restart.

    A challenge from Richie Stanaway in the #99 entry forced Gavin to play a rear-guard action and the chase continued for laps on end, with James Calado joining the fray and creating an gripping three-way, sprint race-style dogfight that captivated the television cameras.

    The trio squabbled without jeopardising their races and Gavin eventually concluded what was a thrilling exchange by yielding, aware that a ferocious defence might be counter-productive at such an early stage of the race and knowing Tommy Milner was due to take the reins at the start of the third hour.

    Reflecting on a successful opening stint, Gavin said: “The track needed to come in more and I think all of the GTE Pro cars struggled for grip. We looked to triple-stint the tyres from then on, with our rivals able to gain 20 seconds in every second stop by not fitting fresh boots. On the whole, it was a good first stint and we’re feeling happy with the way the #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is running.

    “It was nice to be able to fight with the competition,” said Gavin. “I was able to get by the Porsches and started catching the Aston Martins, finally getting on terms with the Richie Stanaway car as James Calado came up behind us. It was quite a nice battle with those guys – I was initially able to open up a little gap, but, towards the end of the stint, they were very strong.”

    Gavin continued: “Richie caught me and was putting me under a lot of pressure. Coming through the first and second chicanes, and then at Mulsanne, he pretty much dive-bombed me. As we came off the corner, James got a good run and we were three-wide going to Indianapolis; I think we had a little bit of straight-line speed advantage on most people, but James managed to get on the inside and Richie got a run on me to get by at Arnage.”

    During a strong stint, Tommy Milner soared from fourth to the top of the leaderboard, overhauling his rivals immediately after a protracted Safety Car intervention.

    The American had to defend with all his might while locked in battle with the #97 Aston Martin art car of Darren Turner, who later span in avoidance of a collision, and then to fend off Fernando Rees in the #99 machine.

    A mammoth stint followed for Jordan Taylor and the 24-year old ran comfortably at the sharp end of GTE Pro as dusk fell over Circuit de la Sarthe and the twice-around-the-clock enduro reached quarter distance.

    Taylor’s advantage disintegrated when the Safety Car made its third appearance of the race but the threat from behind faded along with the light when the #97 entry succumbed to terminal mechanical issues.

    Corvette Racing carried out a driver-change in the next sequence of stops during the ninth hour and, with Gavin back behind the wheel, traffic mired the New Hudson-based team’s progress and assisted an Aston Martin resurgence.

    Gavin and Rees in the #99 car ran together as the race neared half-distance and the order continued chopping and changing on-track and in the pits before and after the Briton relinquished the sole factory Corvette to Milner, the nip and tuck nature of the battle suggesting the GTE Pro fight would go down to the wire.

    For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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    Oliver Gavin and Corvette Racing show no weakness in official Le Mans testing

    Corvette Racing Daytona 2015Oliver Gavin and his Corvette Racing team showed no weakness in official 24 Hours of Le Mans testing at Circuit de la Sarthe (Sunday 31 May) and are buoyant about their prospects for the French endurance classic itself (13-14 June).

    Official testing is a dress rehearsal for Le Mans and the first opportunity for the 64 entries to assess their strengths and weaknesses ahead of the 83rd running of the twice-around-the-clock endurance race on the legendary 8.46mile Circuit de la Sarthe.

    As is typical of the super-competitive LM GTE Pro category, the gaps were miniscule. There was less than a tenth separating the pacesetting #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage and the factory #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor at the end of the day, while the Porsches and Ferraris were left to squabble over the remaining positions on the timesheets.

    The #64 Velocity Yellow machine led the way at the conclusion of the first four-hour session having lapped the circuit in 3m58.162s and the pace remained relatively static, only for the #97 Aston Martin Racing entry of Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Rob Bell to knock Corvette off the top spot by going marginally quicker during the latter half of the day.

    So, the scene is set for the eagerly-awaited four-handed fight for LM GTE Pro honours and there is cause for optimism as the seven-time Le Mans-winning Corvette Racing team attempts to reclaim its mantle with its C7.Rs.

    “The official Le Mans test went as well as could be expected and I feel we’re in a good spot in terms of pace,” said Gavin. “Corvette Racing seems to be at the sharp end, we appear to be going in the right direction with the programme we ran through with tyres, aerodynamics and suspension setups, and the work we did at the National Corvette Museum Motorsport Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky correlates, which is extremely encouraging.

    “The changeable weather was a frustration, particularly for Jordan (Taylor) who completed a marathon journey from Detroit, then had a load of admin work and briefings to deal with before heading out on track, only for it to rain. He did a good job and Tommy (Milner) could have gone faster and eclipsed the #97 Aston Martin had he not been baulked on his two fastest laps. Nevertheless, the car ran faultlessly throughout the day and there’s a fair amount of optimism on our side of the garage. Of all the testing I’ve done with Corvette Racing, this was one of the better days, but we’re not getting carried away and we will remain measured heading into race week.”

    For more information on Oliver Gavin and his racing activities, please visit the website, ‘like’ his Facebook page or follow @olivergavin on Twitter.

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    The highs and lows of Le Mans 2014

    This weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans brought joy and despair to teams up and down the pit lane in equal measure, and Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin experienced both during the world’s most famous, and toughest, sportscar race.

    The British driver, together with team mates Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook brought the No.74 Corvette C7R – making its debut at the French endurance race – home to finish fourth in the LMGTE Pro race which had, up until the 15th hour, promised so much more.  The class was won by the AF Corse Ferrari ahead of the No.73 Corvette of team mates Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.

    Olly started the race from fourth after a challenging couple of days of practice and qualifying sessions which were constantly interrupted by accidents and incidents, though fortunately none affecting the Corvettes.  It was an action-packed first half of the twice-round-the-clock race, with great battles between Olly, Jan, the AF Corse Ferrari and Aston Martin Racing’s lead car.  The No.74 was never out of the top three in class, leading for a several hours, and always a contender for victory.

    The decisive moment for the lead in the super-competitive GTE Pro category came when the weather gods intervened in the race and two short but sharp rain storms hit the track.  Olly and engineer Chuck Houghton took the bold decision to stay out on slick tyres, giving Corvette the advantage over its rivals.

    “Those were tricky conditions and difficult at times,” explains Olly. “I’m pleased we made the call to stay out. Certainly when it first started to rain, coming into the first chicane where the Audi crashed, I was really unsure what was going to happen. There were sheets of rain coming down and you could see it sitting on the surface.  The car starts to glide and you just have to let it go and coast. Fortunately I was able to get the car slow enough to get through the chicane and stay out of trouble.”

    After superb stints by all three drivers in the No.74, including a triple by Olly as the dateline ticked over from the 14th to 15th June, the Le Mans bad luck gremlins struck again.  A lap was lost as dawn broke when an unscheduled stop had to be made to replace a door – due to the car’s number not being illuminated enough to satisfy the officials – and it all went wrong for the Briton who was chasing his fifth Le Mans victory.

    “We had been running so well, and had some really great battles out there with our rivals which absolutely sums up why Le Mans is so important to us all,” Olly reflected.  “The best sportscar drivers in the world are all on track together and there’s rivalry, respect and nose-to-tail competition hour after hour with no quarter given, but no silliness either.  It was mega and we not only led for some time – which is a great reflection on all the hard work put in by Corvette Racing to develop the C7R – but were always in with a chance of a podium. 

    “It all started to go wrong when I got a low voltage reading and could smell burning inside the car.  I came into the pits and the guys pored all over the car trying to find out what it was, eventually diagnosing a gearbox oil leak and slipped alternator belt as a result.    We lost eight laps in total but, once it was fixed, we gave it all we had to make up some lost ground and get to the finish. We made up a couple of laps but it wasn’t quite enough for a place on the podium alongside our team mates.”

    Olly concluded, “For Chevrolet and everyone within the team to see this new generation of Corvette finish second and fourth is a real testament to their commitment to sportscar racing at the highest level.  On a personal level it’s very disappointing to have been in contention for the win for so long and to then see it taken away, but congratulations to the team for a well-deserved result.”

    There is now just a short time to recover before attention turns to the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, the fifth round of the Tudor United Sportscar Series on 29th June.

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    Olly qualifies 4th in LMGTE Pro for 24 Hours of Le Mans

    Oliver Gavin will start from fourth on the LMGTE Pro grid for Saturday’s 24 Hours of Le Mans following a much more encouraging second day of practice/qualifying.  The No.74 Corvette C7R will line up behind pole sitter Gimmi Bruni in the AF Corse Ferrari, Corvette Racing’s sister car and the lead Aston Martin Racing entry.

    The British Corvette Racing driver set a fastest lap of 3:55.190 and was encouraged by the progress made in the sessions, despite further interruptions for incidents throughout.  The gap between all the manufacturers in the Pro category is extremely close which promises a battle of the ages!

    “It was certainly better this evening than yesterday,” noted Olly.  “We managed to get some decent running in the car and develop it a little more. We feel like we have a better racecar now. I managed to stick in a time in there that put us fourth. It would have been great if Tommy could have had a really good run at it right there at the end with maybe some softer tires.

    “We’ve made some steps and it seems like we are right there in the hunt with everyone else. It also seems that pretty much everyone is complaining of low grip and edginess. The circuit, the surface and tyres don’t seem to be bonding and working together so well at the moment. But that could come; the circuit could rubber up more and we could get a more consistent and quicker race car. We’re in a good spot. This should be a dogfight throughout.”

    Oliver, who is teaming once again with Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook, also set his best lap in Thursday’s final session.

    The times were improvements from Wednesday’s red-flag filled session in which Garcia set the best time in the No. 73 Corvette at 3:56.443 (128.935 mph). Milner’s best effort in the No. 74 Corvette C7.R was a 3:59.446 (127.319 mph).

    The 45-minute warm up begins at 9.00 am tomorrow, and the race start will be given by Ferrari F1 star Fernando Alonso at 3.00 pm (CET). Let the games begin!!



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    Corvette bidding for an 8th Le Mans victory

    The scrutineering is done, the group photo and autograph session have taken place and there are now just over 5 hours left until the track opens for the first practice session for the weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.  Here is Corvette Racing’s official preview including quotes from all drivers.

    The biggest race on Corvette Racing’s calendar is here: the 24 Hours of Le Mans – one of racing’s marquee events. The twice-around-the-clock endurance classic will see the Le Mans competition debut of the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R in its toughest test to date. The C7.R is the first completely new racing Corvette to compete at Le Mans since 2005 when the C6.R made its debut.

    The goal is simple: an eighth class victory for Corvette Racing since 2001. The lineups in each of the two Corvettes are formidable. The No. 73 Corvette C7.R has Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen – winners of the last two races in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – driving with Jordan Taylor. Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook share the No. 74 Corvette. The driver pairings in each of the Corvettes are the same for the third straight year.

    Gavin was fourth-fastest in the GTE Pro class during the annual Test Day on June 1, and Magnussen was sixth. Less than two seconds separated the top six cars around the 8.3-mile track that is a mix of purpose-built race track and public roads.

    Corvette Racing will go for its first win at Le Mans since 2011 with a race car that has the latest in engineering technology. The C7.R, based on the 2015 Corvette Z06 production car, has a 40 percent stiffer aluminum chassis compared to the C6.R. It gives the driver a more stable and predictable car – a facet noted by the Corvette Racing roster on multiple occasions.

    On the aerodynamic front, the team tested its low-downforce setups during the Test Day and earlier this month at Road America. The aggressive aero advancements help the C7.R go faster on the straightaways while still being consistent under braking and during cornering. Those areas traditionally were strengths in previous versions of the Corvette but are that much more enhanced in the C7.R.

    The use of direct-injection technology within the Corvette’s 5.5-liter engine provides another advantage over recent years. It has been five years since Corvette Racing competed with a direct injection engine as part of the GT1 era. Corvette engineers believe the C7.R can see as much as a 3 percent gain in fuel economy, which could save Corvette Racing at least one regular pit stop over the course of the race.

    The next time Corvette Racing takes to the circuit at Le Mans is 4 p.m. CET/10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, June 11 for free practice and qualifying. Corvette Racing will go for its eighth class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001 at 3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET on Saturday, June 14 with live coverage on SPEED.


    (Expectations) “The main thing about having a new car is that we don’t know how the car will behave during the race. We proved at all the TUDOR Championship races – including Daytona – that we have the speed although we had some issues in the first couple of races. We are confident in how fast the car is, so I think we will have the baseline to compete with the rest of our competition. But we have to be careful and not to make any mistakes. We will see if that’s enough to win the race. If everything runs according to plan, I think we have a good shot.”

    (About Le Mans) “The event is huge and very important, and it’s very good to be a part of it. At Le Mans you always need to wait and see on things. There can be surprises that come up. It helps that now I’m on the best team to approach the race. If something wrong does appear, I’m on the best team to work through it.”


    (Test Day recap) “We made some good changes to the car and found a good balance. Our Corvette C7.R feels comfortable and not on edge like (the C6.R) last year. At Le Mans it’s very important to have a comfortable car because often you’re out in a situation where you’re not on the ideal racing line – either overtaking slower cars or being passed by the prototypes – and that’s a lot easier when you have a comfortable car. It’s still new and you can’t guarantee a good result at any 24-hour race because it is so hard on the equipment. We go there well-prepared but also with the aim to win.”

    (About Le Mans) “I wasn’t a big fan of Le Mans when I first started coming there. That all changed when I joined Corvette Racing, and we’ve had a chance to win every time out since. That makes a huge difference. You can really enjoy it, and it really motivates you when you know you have a team behind you and the car to do it. Year after year and since I’ve joined Corvette, Le Mans has grown on me and it definitely is the highlight of my racing season. I look forward to going there to compete and be part of the world’s biggest sports car race.”


    (About Le Mans) “The past two years, I’ve left Le Mans thinking, ‘Wow that was a whirlwind of emotions during the whole week.’ It’s hard to remember what happened the whole time. The first year was very hectic, and my head definitely wasn’t in the right place. But going back for the second time, I knew what to expect and had a lot more focus on the driving side of it rather than just experiencing Le Mans.”

    (Driving in last year’s race) “Last year with all the condition changes throughout the race, it felt like we got a year’s worth of experience in that one day. Oliver Gavin said it was the toughest race he’s ever done… and he’s done this for 14 or 15 years. For him to say that – and for us to make it to the finish and not making any mistakes – I was really happy. It makes me a lot more comfortable knowing that no matter the conditions, we’ve already been through it once. We can focus on going forward.”


    (Test Day recap) “The C7.R has very nice and stable characteristics around this track and feels very strong through Porsche Curves. It’s still difficult to know where we are compared to the competition, but all in all, with the weather being nice and sunny, it was almost perfect conditions on the Test Day.”

    (Preparation) “New gearboxes have been saved for this event. Lots and lots of bodywork, spares and new bits all get set aside for this. We haven’t been able to run all the newest, brightest and shiniest bits of equipment through the first few races of the season so we can run them at Le Mans. It’s our biggest race and our biggest event. Le Mans carries that cache because it’s that event in the sports car world that you want to win. You’re going to show up with your crew, team and car as finely tuned as possible with the newest parts so you can compete against the strongest competition in the world.”


    (Long-distance racing) “It doesn’t hurt that we’ve done a 24-hour race and a 12-hour race. Does it help? Maybe a little bit. We were able to run the car in long-distance endurance races to prove some parts and find some weaknesses; unfortunately we found a couple of those at Daytona and Sebring while we were leading. The good thing is that we were able to correct them as best we can. In the first year of a car, getting miles and races under its belt means more than with another team or manufacturer who has had a couple of years. All the teams we race against are professionals and they’ve all done long races like Le Mans many times.”

    (About Le Mans) “In some ways, Le Mans is just another race. As a driver, you don’t want to hype the race up too much and get yourself too excited about it. Inevitably, you realize how big of a race Le Mans is and how important it is on many levels. So it’s not just another race but you try to go about things as you would at any other. Certainly it’s a race that you have to see what it gives you. You start clicking off laps and try not to make any mistakes. That’s the name of the game – having a clean race. It doesn’t have to be perfect but keeping it out of the pits is a key.”


    (Expectations) “We’ve made massive strides in developing a more advanced racing car and a faster racing car. I feel a lot more confident after the test than I did before. It’s definitely something that suits me when I step into it. All we can do as drivers is get in the maximum out of the car. I feel like we will be able to do that. I have every faith in Corvette Racing that it will be giving us a car that is capable of fighting at the front because usually that’s where we are.”

    (About Le Mans) “You always try and treat Le Mans like it is another race but you can’t. When you get there, you just can’t ignore the atmosphere, history and importance to every manufacturer in the GTLM field. You can get carried away with that. With the nature of the circuit, the development in tire technology and the cars, every lap is flat-out. You’re qualifying every lap. It’s the most intense racing I’ve ever been involved in and you can’t treat it as routine. Everyone has to be at the top of their games and you have to give it 100 percent for every single minute.”


    “The Test Day proved to be a very rewarding experience for all our guys. Both cars ran flawlessly, responded well to the planned testing protocol and looked to be very competitive. The drivers were particularly pleased with both the handling and braking of the new C7.R. The initial look at the new BOP standards was promising with the entire field closely bunched. So now on to qualifying and see what that brings. The challenges of Le Mans are many and diverse. But we have the experience, the product and the personnel to bring home victory number eight and that remains our primary objective.”

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    The C7.Rs first laps at Le Mans!

    Corvette Racing successfully ran through its test programme ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans today as the two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs turned their first laps around the circuit in the Sarthe region of France. Both Corvettes ran virtually trouble-free during the two four-hour sessions, and the famed endurance race takes place on June 14-15.

    Four-time Le Mans winner Oliver Gavin set the fourth-fastest time of the GTE Pro field in the No. 74 Corvette at 3:58.403, set in the afternoon session. Gavin, partnering with past Le Mans winner Tommy Milner and Richard Westbrook, also was the quickest Corvette Racing driver in the morning session.

    Jan Magnussen was the fastest driver in the No. 73 Corvette C7.R and sixth in GTE Pro with a lap of 3:59.192, set late in the second session. Also a four-time Le Mans winner, the Dane was the first driver in the No. 73 to start the day and was the last driver in at the end of the session. He drives with Antonio Garcia – the pairing have won the last two races in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – and Jordan Taylor.

    The two Corvettes recorded almost 100 laps together around the 8.3-mile circuit and, with the top six cars LMGTE Pro cars all within two seconds, the Corvettes’ performance bodes well for a competitive race.

    With seven class victories at Le Mans since 2001, Corvette Racing and Chevrolet rank among the most successful teams and manufacturers to compete at Le Mans in the modern era.

    The next time Corvette Racing takes to the circuit at Le Mans is 4 pm (local) on Wednesday, June 11 for free practice and qualifying. Corvette Racing will go for its eighth class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001 at 3 pm CET on Saturday, June 14.


    “The Chevrolet Corvette C7.R is a major step forward compared to last year’s car. So far we’ve worked on our usual, annual to-do-list for Le Mans, and everything is going to plan. With the new car we of course have a lot more work to do than with the previous car, which was always a known package. But so far everything we tried and at Road America seems to be working here and we’re definitely going in the right direction.”


    “We just improved the car as we went along. It was very hard to already find a race setup given the conditions of the track (green and dirty after a year). All three of us were happy with the changes we made, and we specifically made some good progress on the brakes. We came here with a car that was very good straight out of the box, so we could stick to the plan we had set ourselves to do today.”


    “I didn’t get too much time in the car yet. So far I’ve tested the car at Road America, so it was good to spend half a day in Le Mans. The car feels quite comfortable. That’s the most important thing here in Le Mans – to have a car you feel comfortable driving and which all three drivers feel comfortable with setup wise. All three of us are happy with where we are and we are definitely looking forward to the race.”


    “The track was very dirty in the beginning and it took a while to be good enough. Everybody seemed to waiting for the track to become nice and clean. By the second half of the morning session is was good enough for everybody to work with it. All in all it’s been a good first run with the C7.R here in Le Mans. The car seems to be very predictable here. It does what we want it to do.”


    “We went through our program of changes and ideas to make the car better, both in handling and performance. I’m fairly happy with where we are now. After all the changes we made, I did a run on new tires early in the afternoon session and the car felt a lot better than this morning on used tires. This is a first good test for the Corvette C7.R here, and things have been a lot better so far than last year around the same time.”


    “The first few laps were pretty strange, having raced in the Detroit TUDOR Championship race less than 24 hours before. There are probably no two more opposite cars like the Corvette DP and the Corvette C7.R, just like there are no two more opposite tracks like Belle Isle and Le Mans. Other than that the car felt really good with no major issues so all I had to do was to make sure I felt comfortable. I’m quite looking forward to the race the week after next.”


    “Unlike in years past when there was a huge differential between the different types of cars, this year they are all pretty closely bunched together. This is of course testament to the efforts made by the sanctioning body in creating a very good balance of performance. We’re pleased with where we are on a performance standpoint and are looking forward to qualifying in 10 days with the new Corvette C7.Rs.”

    Posted in Le Mans 24 Hours | Comments closed