With 18 Le Mans attempts in a row, it is no surprise that Corvette Racing adapt quickly to racing in France at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Teams from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are still running on Michelin tires in France, but a different FIA World Endurance Championship-spec WEC spec Michelin tire. Corvette Racing has come to grips with the compound almost immediately.
“I know we have a Le Mans-specific tire for this race, but it’s hard to tell the difference. I honestly couldn’t tell you which one is the WEC tire and which one is the U.S. tire,” driver of the No. 64 Corvette C7R Tommy Milner said.
“As always, the way Michelin seems to work, they make a tire for every condition so our engineers work with the Michelin engineers to make sure we’re on the right tire, whichever one that is. So far, it’s been the right tire because the car feels good.”
With their leading car qualifying less than a second behind the pole-sitting car in the 13-car GTE-Pro class, the tires seem to be working just fine for the eight-time class-winning outfit, and if this form continues, they could be looking at win number nine.
A win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans would add to the already impressive season the Corvette Racing team has had in the U.S. They’ve won three of four races to kick off the IMSA championship, including the 12 Hours of Sebring and have even higher expectations at Circuit de la Sarthe given how the track has rubbered in.
“It was dry for the test day and the teams put a lot of rubber down and it hasn’t rained since so it is just building grip,” Milner’s co-driver, Oliver Gavin, said.
“In that sense, the track grip level at the start of the race will likely be high, more like the end of other races. And there are lots of Michelin cars here so the rubber is more compatible than at the IMSA races.”
Also working in favor for the Corvette Racing team is the warmer weather expected for the race weekend as their cars historically work well in the heat. However, hot weather doesn’t guarantee that Corvette will walk away with it. The GTE-Pro class is notoriously competitive, and that will make for some close racing for the team during the entirety of the 24 hours.
“Comparing the last couple years here, we’ve had cars that are a little bit difficult to drive, and this weekend, with the heat, the car has been really good,” said Milner.
“As far as longevity goes, the tires are just as fast at the end of two stints as they are at the very beginning.
“I imagine that our competitors that are also on Michelins are going to have the same feeling that we have. If we all have a car that we can race at 100 percent for two hours at a time, that should provide for some pretty good racing.”