Corvette Racing is ready to put a year’s worth of preparation to the test this week when it goes for a ninth class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The annual French endurance classic – this year’s running is the 85th edition – gets the green flag at 3 p.m. French time (9 a.m. ET) on Saturday with Corvette Racing sending six drivers and its two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs into battle against the world’s best.
“We are quietly going about our business in preparation for our 18th Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s no secret how much importance we place on Le Mans each year,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Program Manager.
“Every lap and every minute in preparation is done with an eye toward giving Corvette Racing the best possible chance for another win at Le Mans.”
Corvette Racing has a Le Mans pedigree that no team in the paddock can match. This will mark the 18th consecutive appearance at the 24 Hours – the most of any active entrant. No GT team can match the Corvette Racing team’s collection of eight victories, the most recent coming in 2015.
Oliver Gavin was the quickest driver in the GTE Pro class during the annual Le Mans Test Day on June 4. Driving the No. 64 Corvette C7.R with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler, Gavin led an incredibly close fight with only 0.684 seconds between the top seven cars in class.
Among them was the No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia, who was fourth-fastest in class. He will drive this week with Jan Magnussen and Jordan Taylor.
The six drivers have combined for 18 Le Mans victories. With such an experienced driver lineup, they know exactly what it takes to bring home victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
“There’s no doubt that if you don’t win Le Mans, the desire to win the next year gets even stronger,” said Milner.
“You kind of mentally ramp up for the race in the weeks before; you replay Le Mans in your head from the year before and from years past.
“You don’t want to repeat mistakes if you’re in contention Sunday for a win. Your successes give you confidence in the following years, and any failures give you that extra drive at the same time.”
While there may be uncertainty over what the ultimate race pace will be in GTE Pro, Corvette Racing has spent the last 12 months identifying ways to improve it strategy and execution both in the pit lane and on the engineering stand.
Those efforts have proven critical, as evidenced by three consecutive victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Manufacturer’s, Driver’s and Team championship leads in the GT Le Mans class.
If the race is anything like the IMSA Championship however, the competition will be strong.
“The further away you get from your last win at Le Mans, the more you want to win it again,” said Garcia who has combined with Magnussen to win two out of the past three IMSA races (and was unlucky not to win three in a row albeit for a last corner, last lap traffic jam at Long Beach.
“It seems like a long time ago since my last win in 2011. Since those years, we had quite a few opportunities to win it; in 2014 we had a very good chance and finished second. Our main focus is to be up there and have a chance at the end.
“There is a lot that goes into it. We have to readapt ourselves to the way Le Mans works with safety cars, the rules… we know what we have to do to be able to fight from Lap One. We will give 100 percent and see if that’s enough to win the race.”