Oliver 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.”